Mannequin – [Ray Vaughn]

New labels and imprints seem to pop up every single day, and while there are plenty of rosters filled with talent, it just seems like they almost compete with who can sign the most people, not who has the most quality. That’s why TDE has always been one of my favorite labels because they seem to keep their roster concise, but fill it with so many different emcees that are true stars with so much talent and even more potential.

I’ve been listening to these musicians ever since TDE was basically only Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock, but over the years, they have grown massively thanks to talents like SZA, Isaiah Rashad, Lance Skiiiwalker, SiR, Reason, and many others. I seem to be late to the party when they sign new people, but I always try and tap in when I finally hear about them, so when I found out about one of their most recent signees Ray Vaughn, I couldn’t wait to get in tune.

The first song I heard from him is his brand-new record “Mannequin”, and it not only proved exactly why TDE had him put his pen to paper, but it also made me realize that he is not one to ignore whatsoever moving forward. He showcases so much energy, charm, and talent throughout this Phonix, Jay Cord, Tariq Beats, and Kion Beats-produced single, but the James Mackel-directed visual definitely stepped things up a notch. It begins with Ray working in a warehouse, hitting the breakroom where he falls asleep.

Quickly, he begins to dream as if he is back on the job, but when the forklift pulls out of the garage, it hits the streets to find mannequins spread out all over a residential California neighborhood. Whether they’re getting into random events like drive-bys, cheating on spouses, selling street food, or any of the other things going on, Ray is there to witness all of these occurrences unfolding, looking just about as confused as expected.

As time goes on, more and more mannequins take over this world, but the dream is cut short as his manager at work splashes him with water to wake him from his nap and tell Ray that he’s docking his pay. “Mannequin” might only be my introduction to the Long Beach native, but I certainly can’t wait to see what else he has in store as he continues to put together remarkable offerings like this one.