Up Next -October/ November 2018 Edition XI- RayGiftedKeys

1. How did you start singing?

At age 16, my mom put me on punishment and took away all my rap CDs and cassette tapes and gave me R Kelly, Beyoncé - Dangerously in Love, Carl Thomas, Full Moon Brandy and Omarion told me that was my punishment -- knowing how much I loved rap! I started to mimic the CDs because it was all that I could listen to. Moms bust in the door ask me who was singing the radio or me. She was shocked and told me to sing for my family! That’s how it began. She said I was special.

2. At what age did you come out to your family?

I was 18 but I didn’t come out! Some girl I was talking to called me 'baby daddy' every time she seen me and my oldest niece caught the girl saying it and got offended lol. Told my older sister what she heard and my sister was like “dammit just tell mom your gay already because everyone know” lol

3. Do you currently have a girlfriend?

Wouldn’t y’all like to know....hmmmm do you?!

4. What’s your favorite food?

Baked Mac and cheese and chicken breast.

5. Who’s your biggest musical influence?

R Kelly, Brandy, Jazmine Sullivan & Chris Brown.

6. Has your success changed your friendships with people?

Most definitely. Can’t bring everyone to the top of the elevator with you, I guess... the ones that are close to you envy the most. Be careful for them.

7. How did you come up with your name?

Well, I wasn’t suppose to be born and when I was, my parents called me their miracle baby. When I was almost 1, I had rhythm to anything that came on the radio. So my father bought me a small piano to play with. Found me making a tune out of it and called me his little gifted prodigy! My real name is Ray and my last name is really 'keys,' so I just put gifted in the middle and there you go!

8. How many exes want you back since you’ve become so popular?

Hopefully none. We didn’t have nothing in common that’s why they are Ex’s. Examples of what I don’t want the next time. Experiences, you feel me.

9. What do you want the world to know about you that they don’t already know?

That I have pain in my heart and I was once crushed by life but I ran to music which saved my sanity. Now I can write for other people to relate in so many ways of how we live in today’s society. I am the voice that couldn't speak. I am the music they need to feel so they can understand they aren’t alone and someone is feeling the same! I’m not afraid to be that voice! I want to be that artist everyone can relate to want it to feel genuinely real.

10. Who’s your celebrity crush?Janet Jackson & Kyla Pratt

October/November 2018 - Edition XI-Fashion Forward with Sniqker Head

T. Lavender: Dom, so tell me all about your background and how you got started. What's your ultimate goal or goals are for your SniqkerHead brand?

Dom of SniqkerHead: I grew up in a small town right outside of Modesto, CA called Ceres. Growing up in Ceres at that time, being African America stuck out like rocking a fresh pair of Jordan Bred 1s, there were just a hand full. Being myself was always easier than being accepted. I was athletic throughout my childhood up until I graduated high school in 2006; I played soccer, basketball, and ran cross-country & track and field. In high school, I was the leader of the Black Student Union Step Team in which during that time, my friends and I created a dance group we called “HEAT”. We started participating in talent shows and Juneteenths which helped expose our individual talents. That eventually opened doors for opportunities to perform and background dance for some of our dope, local artists. I would design and make our outfits for our shows, spray painting our t-shirts & sweats, and even distressing our jeans. I was always into matching and color coordinating my sniqkers (sneakers) with my outfits. I was kind of good at it. I would say this is where my path as a designer began, though I never thought that I would’ve become a cut and sew designer. I started out just designing t-shirts, hoodies and hats with my logo in different color schemes and paying someone else to do the dirty work. But as Erika Badu said “I am an artist and I am sensitive about my shit”. It was time that I cut out the middle man and do things exactly how I wanted, so I started investing in my own equipment to do it myself. My first attempt at sewing was not the best but I came around to give it a second chance. I was able to thrive under the guidance of my cousin who played a huge role towards my steps in becoming a cut and sew designer. She taught me all the basics and from that point on, there was no stopping me. After I got the hang of doing custom sleeves for t-shirts & mastered that, I put the pedal to metal and made my first pattern for a jacket. I didn’t work with regular cotton on my first attempt on this “SniqkerHead Bomber Jacket”, I used alligator fabric! I set the bar high because I always try to challenge myself. When it was complete, I felt the best feeling I had ever felt in accomplishing anything. I’m sure it wasn’t perfect, but in my eyes it was. That was the first jacket I wore on the runway at TrapXart, and still include in my shows today. It reminds me of where I started as a cut and sew designer. And as Kendrick Lemar said, ”Be Humble, Sit Down”. Since then I have designed joggers, shorts, and fanny packs. I am still perfecting my craft, but I make sure each piece exceeds my expectations of what I can do, as I only make one of each. I came up with this concept because I wanted to separate SniqkerHead from your other street wear brands. Exclusiveness is hard to come by nowadays, and I wanted people to know that once they copped a SniqkerHead piece, they wouldn’t run into anybody else rocking the same thing. Ultimately, my goal is to design and style for some of my favorite celebrities, while still building SniqkerHead into a luxury street wear brand. I don’t know what the future holds, but it’s only up from here. Thanks for your time.

To purchase Dom’s clothing line head over to SniqkerHead.com follow her on Instagram @sniqkerhead “Fashion Forward” with CEO of Dom of SniqkerHead

- T. Lavender