Kedar Massenburg is acknowledged in the industry for working magic, but the man responsible for launching the careers of Erykah Badu and D’Angelo, stirred something up when he attempted to create a powerhouse in three strangers from across the country. And thus far, he’s struck gold.
Ariel Nicholson, Asia Shabazz and Bel Cabrera of the group, Rawyals, cemented one thing Tuesday night (May 12) at BET’s Music Matters event at S.O.B.’s – 50 Cent’s stamp of approval was spot on and these ladies are prepared to fill the void missing in music. They aren’t the girl groups you’re used to and they don’t aspire to be the next TLC or Destiny’s Child of this decade. But to take a line from Mrs. Carter herself, these ladies are “grown women,” with raw content in their lyrics, an attitude noting they’re about their business and a visual sex appeal not executed by female groups in previous years.
After a mellowed out R&B session from two acts prior, the trio came with an energy that got the audience buzzing, followed by whispers and head nods of acknowledgement that the three truly do go hard. If Rawyals sounded unfamiliar before Tuesday, their set let everyone know they’re worthy of the crown.With a debut performance at a place “where legends are made” and kicking off their summer at the BET Experience in Los Angeles in June, there is no doubt that these ladies have what it takes to become royalty in the business.
The Queens of “King Me” chatted with Vixen about their beginnings, what they’re bringing to the table, and how they vibe together.
Let’s talk about the name of the group. How did ‘Rawyals’ come about?
Asia: It pretty much just describes us. We are building a queendom. We’re in a generation now where people don’t keep it straight up and women don’t recognize their power – and men don’t either. So we’re really speaking to the kings in men and the queens in women and reminding them who they are. We’re coming at it from a completely raw perspective because we’re in 2015, so why sugarcoat anything? In order to spread the message, we have to keep it all the way lit.
Did you all know one another prior to coming together as Rawyals?
Asia: No, we didn’t know each other. Actually, Kedar handpicked us individually, so we all came from all over the country (Los Angeles, California, Washington state, Mt. Vernon, New York). Kedar had this vision of putting this ultimate girl group together of just three powerful women – and here we are!
There’s this notion that women, particularly women of color, don’t work well together. Tell us about how you three managed to vibe off each other as strangers coming to form the group.
Asia: What helps is the concept behind the group. We’re trying to show women that you can work together and respect each other. You don’t have to be BFFs all the time. Being a queen is recognizing another queen and it’s not about hating, it’s about uplifting each other. More than ever, that’s what keeps us grounded. We’re not going to always get along–we don’t always get along, let’s keep it real–but the thing is, the dream and the vision is way bigger than us.
Is there any competition you ladies face between each other?
Asia: It’s friendly competition and motivation to do better. We’re as strong as our weakest link. Everyone brings something to the table, we recognize that and nobody’s perfect. We feed off of each other. We’re constantly trying to grow as a group, individually, all of the above.
Individually, what are you all bringing to the table?
Bel: I think it’s dope that Asia’s all the way from the California. We get to reach two different fan bases, two different sounds of music. I’m Latina and I can’t wait to bring that to the table too.
Ariel: I think all of our personalities because of the different cultures (backgrounds in Asia, Dominican Republic and Jamaica), we also bringing a different type of demographic.
Getting a co-sign from 50 Cent to kickstart your careers is huge. How did that feel to hear that?
Asia: It meant a lot and it was a huge honor. The fact that we’re surrounded by so many amazing people and legends in this game, it’s crazy. Every day we wake up, we’re like is it real? (Laughs) For 50 to say that was another stamp of approval, another confirmation. We’re not trying to replicate anything, that’s our biggest thing. We’re not trying to be Destiny’s Child, we’re not trying to be TLC, we’re trying to be Rawyals. Obviously, we’re taking from those women and those groups and we would be stupid to not look at our history, but we’re really trying to mold ourselves and be who we are.
So, let’s go into the music. Where do you ladies find your inspiration for your sound?
Bel: It’s everything in life. We’re girls, we’re emotional, we deal with heartbreak.
Asia: I think love is the foundation of all of it. There’s different versions of love. We have good days, we have bad days. We have days we want to turn up, we have days we want to chill. We have days we want to come home to our man and put it down. It’s all of those feelings, and we’re talking about that.
How did Fetty Wap jumping on your first single [“King Me”] come about?
Bel: We were in the Dominican Republic, shooting some music videos. We got back to the states and next thing you know, Kedar is like, guess who I got on the record? He blessed us with a real dope verse. It felt good.
Give us some insight into your upcoming projects and particularly, the In The Raw EP?
Asia: We’ve been working on the EP and the album for the last year. We got to work with a lot of amazing people like D. Cannon and The Heatmakerz. I think in the process of it, it started off with this one record Kedar found and that was what actually put the group together. From then, we just wanted to be real, so we have this record on the EP called, “I’ll Take Your Girl” (featuring Remy Ma) and I think that’s probably our most raw record. It falls in line with what we believe in. Men don’t know how to treat women right now–some do–but a lot of them forgot, so the song is “I’m going to take your girl and I’m going to show her how she needs to be treated.” That’s a record (laughs). There’s also Troy Ave on “On One” and Wale on “Dis My Shit.”
Photo Credit: Facebook