Eminem’s Shady Music Rapper/Singer/Producer Astray Is Finally On The Right Path

  • February 20, 2017
  • 9 min read
Eminem’s Shady Music Rapper/Singer/Producer Astray Is Finally On The Right Path

Astray is a talented rapper/singer/producer that has paid his dues in the music industry. From his early beginnings in the local music scene in Saginaw, Michigan to getting a coveted publishing deal with Shady Music. I spoke with Astray about his entry into the rap game via Saginaw, his music influences, and his years of hard work before landing the Shady Publishing Deal.

Where did you come up with the name Astray?

I came up with the name Astray right when I started taking rap real seriously. I came up with it for a couple of reasons, the word astray means off the path right? I feel like with my music career and living by my talents as opposed to living a normal get up go to work, have a family, and die when it’s all over; that didn’t seem appealing to me. I have these gifts and wanted to use them and wanted to do my thing. Live out my dream, most people don’t do that, they give up and settle for a normal life. Plus, I feel like I’ve been astray since my birth because I was adopted, I was given up for adoption at birth so right from jump was like your not going this way your going this way, so I was put on a path that might not have been the path that I was meant for.

What was it like growing up in Saginaw? What were some of the obstacles you faced trying to get into the music industry in Saginaw?

Saginaw was cool growing up there. Some of the best times of my life. I’ll definitely always have love for Saginaw even if I’m not there. As far as obstacles and getting into the music industry in a local sense there was none. On a more broad sense, Saginaw is not a hub by any means. I wouldn’t even consider Detroit a hub and that’s where I reside now. The local scene was very easy I never had a problem hopping in the game and felt accepted right away which I attribute to being good. As far as industry wise its a small chance of making it from Saginaw, people aren’t looking at Saginaw, Michigan.

Did you feel it was hard to get taken seriously initially?

No I never had those complications of being taken seriously. I just left a that kid was just dope impression. I did have the Eminem comparisons initially who was a huge influence on me from 1998 to 2003. Sometimes you end up sounding like your influences because those are the people who taught you initially, you don’t even know you’re doing it.

As an independent artist what were the ways you found most effective to get your music out there?

I had really good sale numbers for a few of my albums, especially the third one. I give credit to the label I was independently signed to. My manager throughout my career was really good at strategically marketing, sales, and knew how to get those distribution deals and knew how to get my record in stores nationally and even build street teams on a national level as a result my third album “Who’s Coming With Me” ended up doing 6,000 sales in the first week and got me number 67 on the Billboard charts and number 5 on the Heatseekers Chart which was a huge accomplishment. Selling CDs hand to hand I took that so seriously I made that into a job. If I wasn’t working on music I was selling CDs whether it was me solo or some of my friends. I would pick a spot like a mall or a fair. We would go to Indiana or Ohio. If the fairs weren’t popping we would hit the mall and have to duck and dodge mall security. I actually got banned from life from the Genesee Valley Mall in Flint, Michigan for selling CD’s.

Where did you come up with the idea for the Entourage mixtape?

I just could relate to every aspect of all the main characters on the show. I could identify with Vinnie Chase an up and coming actor cause I’m in the same position just music and I could also identify with the character Eric. Sometimes Vinnie Chase was more carefree and didn’t give a shit about certain things and Eric was always stressed out and very particular about stuff; which I could relate to about being extremely professional with what you do. My manager Nick was always like an Eric Murphy or Ari Gold type. So I was going to do a mixtape to this because back then people were doing themed mixtapes and I put out the mixtape and people liked it.

You speak about being discouraged over losing the deal with TVT, how did you get over that?

Remember how I told you earlier we sold 6,000 the first week and ended up on the Billboard charts? So that was how we gained the attention of TVT. What we used to do before I started making my own beats. We would go on Soundclick and download the beats to all these producers, it wasn’t like we had great producers we could reach out to in Saginaw. So we would go on Soundclick and download a bunch of beats we never took notes or anything like that. I ended up putting out “Who’s Coming With Me” and only owned one beat out of eighteen songs. This was when Lil Jon and the Eastide Boyz and Yin Yang Twinz were first popping off but when they found out I didn’t own all the songs they came back with a counter offer which wasn’t worth it. It was devastating but I just kept going and a year later came out with the Entourage mixtape.

Who were some of your musical influences growing up?

When I was young people that really stick out before I started or just getting into rap I always liked Michael Jackson, Prince, Guns & Roses, Nirvana, Hall & Oates. Stuff that my parents would listen to that I would soak up in the backseat. My cousin introduced me to the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, NWA, and Ice Cube. I was just fascinated with it. Those are just some of that people that grabbed my attention at an early age and I never let go.

How did you end up meeting King Gordy and working with him?

So we all had a show in Pow Wow. So whenever I would go these shows I would always find a way to go backstage and hand off my album to rappers who would come through touring Michigan. When I started producing I started handing off my beat CDs instead. I gave King Gordy a beat CD and the next day he went and recorded seven songs off of it and thats how our relationship started. After that he did this whole album (Van Dyke and Harper Music) which I did the majority of production which is considered a classic hip hop album out of Detroit. And King Gordy was on a label that happened to be in the same building as 54 Sound in Ferndale, Michigan where Eminem used to record out of thats when I got my internship out of that studio and was able to sit in on mix sessions and just learn and I met Eminem for the first time.

You got a publishing deal with Shady how did that come about?

That actually had nothing to do with the publishing deal. People always think, Eminem has known about your music since 2006 or 2007 since I was an intern but I always heard stories how people would try and cut in and say I rap and they would get kicked out of the studio. So I always tried to play it cool and never mentioned myself to be a rapper at 54 Sound, he always knew me as a producer. Paul Rosenberg heard my music from a mutual friend which had nothing to do with me working at 54 Sound and was like he wanted me to write songs for different artists.

Who are some of the artist that you have worked with?

I’ve worked with a lot of big producers. I went to New York and worked with Wiz Khalifah, Rittz, and Jelly Roll. I haven’t landed a huge placement yet but have been extremely close.

You sing on some records like “Bedroom Bully” and “Ballad of Bobby Boucher” did you take vocal lessons? When you make records like that how conscious are you of making songs for radio?

Yeah I’ve taken vocal lessons from an actual vocal coach and there are CD’s you can buy to learn. I’ve learned some stuff off them. I’m not conscious of making records for radio at all, on a scale of one to ten like two. I try to make things catchy. I don’t even listen to the radio. I only listen to music that inspires me. I think a lot of producers try to follow whats new, everybody wanted to be DJ Mustard a few years ago but that initial sound he came out with is dead, DJ Mustard is still relevant. You don’t want to mimic. I try to go off my influences and whats in my head.

What is next for Astray?

I just been honestly working on my own stuff rapping and singing because I want to be known for both as well as producing. I’ve been sitting on songs I want to put out until I have the time to focus on promoting it.

Ryan Glover is a contributing writer for Follow him on Twitter @RyanDavisGlover, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your Google network

Share Button
About Author

Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan is an accomplished promoter, event planner, producer, activist, counselor, poet and blogger. Within the course of two and a half years Chris Ryan has worked with some of NYC's most established promoters/event planners, been named 2007′s GaySocialite of the year, granted a promoter of the year award from NYC's most famous gay establishment, Splash. He's worked in some of NYC's top venues including; Avalon, Capitale, Cipriani, Cielo, Pacha, Element, Le Poisson Rouge, XL, G Lounge, Plumm, Hilton Hotel, Indigo Hotel, Spirit, Myst/Quo, Splash, The Ritz, Vlada, Roseland Ballroom, Heaven, etc. In 2008, Chris Ryan has begun to unveil some of the most innovative & unique parties New York City has ever seen. The Fusion events "fuse" together all disciplines of art into an event that remains diverse yet cohesive at the same time. won best gay promotions website from NYC Event Patrons in 2008 & he was granted an award from the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Gov. Patterson & Michelle Clunie (QAF) saluting him for his hard work in nightlife. Chris Ryan has also begun working with many renown companies, including; doctors, lawyers, physicians, modeling agencies & more. Chris Ryan has been responsible for wide-scale promotions for all these companies & generating tremendous business. Chris Ryan has even started to become National with events taking place in LA & Miami this year. In May of 2009 Chris Ryan received the very prestigious honor of being named a "40 Under 40″ Gays in America by the Advocate Magazine. He also created three successful parties that generated over 1,500 patrons each. In January of 2010 Chris Ryan was featured as one of the top promoters to look out for in Noize Magazine Chris Ryan joined forces with legendary promoter/event producer, Lee Chappell and created one of the most talked about events of all 2010, Desire @ Capitale. Chris Ryan and Lee featured one of the most outstanding artists NYC has ever seen, "Oh Land." Her performance coupled with an exquisite and unforgettable set design added to this extravagant event that held over 1,000 patrons in one of NYC's most successful PRIDE events! Chris Ryan then joined forces with legendary Pacha promoter, Rob Fernandez in addition to Jake Resnicow and Tommy Marinelli to bring one of the largest and most successful parties worldwide to NYC, MATINEE. The event on Governor's Island saw over 2,000+ attendees and one of the most ambitious productions ever. In 2011 Chris Ryan started Emerge Music Promotions with business partner Darren Melchiorre. Emerge Music promotions began signing artists with plans to develop and market the artists to the community at large. Emerge Music promotions has big events planned for 2012 and 2013. Chris Ryan debuted the IMAGE events which took place on top of two of NYC's most beautiful rooftop venues, Rare View and Indigo Hotel. The events were blogged everywhere and featured the fashion designs of several clothing designers, artists and photographers. Chris Ryan felt that fashion and art should be displayed at every event and attracted the likes of Malan Breton, Calvin Klein and even Katy Perry. Chris Ryan began an extremely successful event which incorporated the concept of a house party into a nightclub atmosphere. The event Twist'D at G Lounge has been one of the most talked about events in NYC and allows it's audience to play nearly-naked Twister, beer pong, flip cup & more with other attendees. Chris Ryan was granted an excellence in volunteering award from AVP (Anti-Violence Project) for all his efforts in supporting the organization. 2013 has a very promising landscape on the horizon and Chris Ryan is complacent in saying "you haven't seen anything yet!"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.