With an animated delivery and a penchant for channeling his pain into heartfelt bars, Ray Vaughn is the next Top Dawg Entertainment artist to take over the culture. Showing off his forklift-certified charisma in his latest video, Vaughn shouts down stiffs in “Mannequin,” his new video. Produced by Kino Beats, Tariq Beats & Phonix Beats, “Mannequin” provides Vaughn with a warm bed of whirring synths dotted with plenty of negative space that Vaughn can fill with his personality. The rising rapper tells tales of his upbringing in Long Beach, weaving in characters from his hometown and celebrating his escape from the hood: “My environment was in the lion’s den/But now my life a movie like Lion’s Gate.”
The video for “Mannequin” is one-part blue collar comedy, and one-part science fiction. Vaughn dozes off during his shift at the warehouse, and imagines himself and his homie as the only real people in a world full of mannequins. Instead of recoiling in horror from his Twilight Zone-esque surroundings, Vaughn makes the most of his situation, staging the mannequins and hosting a block party with his fiberglass friends.
“Mannequin” continues the TDE signee’s lightning-quick come-up, which started last year when he signed to the legendary label. Ray Vaughn first gained recognition on YouTube, with his Freestyle Fridays series that showed off his clever punchlines and bottomless arsenal of flows. The spitter gave a taste of his abilities over the beat from fellow LBC legend Snoop Dogg’s “Lay Low” during a L.A. Leakers freestyle, generating over 2.5 million views. He proved that his fiery freestyle wasn’t a fluke with Peer Pressure, a three-track EP that earned notice in Complex, UPROXX, and more. Ray Vaughn kept the momentum going into 2022, with singles like “Picking Cherries,” named after Cherry Avenue in his hometown of Long Beach.
Hard at work on his debut album, due later this year, Ray Vaughn is out to prove that few rappers can do what he can do. “”I digest pain different from others,” says Ray Vaughn. “I figured out how to turn my wounds into wisdom.”