Trenton, NJ-based rapper Raymond "Ray" Strife recently reached out to me, via email after seeing my write-up on JE DOUBLE F's HUMAN RITES teaser single, "JAGGED EDGE." I believe I actually got in touch with Jeff due in part to (or maybe even because of) my recent work with fellow East Coast emcees Height Keech and Darko The Super affiliates, STATIC BROTHERS. Ray Strife & JE DOUBLE F are both founding members of Trenton-bred Rap crew DKFG, which additionally includes Kahlil Ali, RayRayBeats, Luis, Roebus One, Wade Wilson, Cody Jones, Dready Mercury, Ill-Omega, and Cornelius The Third. "Raymond Strife used to play in Punk bands, until the iPod was invented and replaced musicians. Strife isn't actually his last name. Reads lots of comic books, but gets laid more than most nerds who read lots of comic books," Ray Strife's rather brief, yet fitting Bandcamp description details; included within for FREE or Name-Your-Price download are Ray Strife's latest solo albums I'm Sorry, I'm Broken (2013) and Self-Loathing Egomaniac (2010) along with two releases from his recently reunited "Pizza Hustle" Hardcore Punk band Crack Filler, 2014's Get Drunk & Let Bad Things Happen EP and Crack Filler... It's What's for Lunch! EP (2005.) Strife's most recent release was November 2016's interestingly named Gretchen On Acid Telling Her Mom to Shut The F**k Up with DKFG producer RayRayBeats, which was actually based on a real-life experience with a recent ex-girlfriend. In addition to DKFG and Crack Filler, Ray Strife is also a member of of comic book-referencing Hip-Hop group Dreadpool Parker with Wade Wilson and Dready Mercury, Tabasco Cats with Roebus One, and very recently-formed Negative Hardcore band called Dad D*ck—although, its name is likely to change prior to their first show in May—with "a few other aging Punks from Trenton."
"Preface: I Will Never Be Beautiful EP is the warm-up for the full-length, Go for The Gusto coming out this summer. Both are the product of Raymond Strife (lyrics and vocals) and Cap City Ent. founder Ill-Omega (production). [Go for The] Gusto serves as sort of a narrative for the rapper going through a huge transitional period of his life and [Preface: I Will Never Be] Beautiful represents the range of variety of [Go for The] Gusto on a much smaller scale," Ray Strife recently wrote within a text messaged statement. Preface: I Will Never Be Beautiful EP, part 1 of a proposed 3-part series, fully embodies Ray's go-to lyrical themes of "low self-esteem, addiction, relationships, Punk shows, and comic books;" although, Ray Strife tells me he's newly-sober, as of just eight months ago and now, spends the majority of his time rapping, riding his bike with other "clown bike punx," and trying to be as actively and positively involved in his city as he can. Strife's lyrical has been previously compared to artists as broadly-ranging as Snoop Dogg and self-destructive Punk/Shock Rock cult figure G.G. Allin, both of which, you can surprisingly, hear echoed throughout Preface: I Will Never Be Beautiful EP. Across its contained 5-track span, DKFG producer Ill-Omega lays out a rather interesting Blues, Jazz, and G-Funk-evoking soundbed for Ray Strife to rhyme over, which at times, sounds something like Asher Roth spitting over an imagined collaboration between Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA and The Chronic-era Dr. Dre. "The next thing I have of note is this Saturday [April 15th,] I will be guest hosting the Live from The Dining Room podcast. Go for The Gusto will be out this summer and I'm doing an East Coast, South, and Midwest tour with Lt. Headtrip and [The] Karma Kids out of NYC late June and early July,” Ray Strife said, in closing.