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Given his country slang and drawl plus his edgy, baritone voice, many would think Ray Cash hails from somewhere in the Deep South. However, he is from Cleveland, OH, which has meant that he has had to steer away from the shadows of Cleveland's only other known rap group, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, in order to promote his own style. In fact, Cash had difficulty obtaining a record deal, because he was not from a "marketable" region. After almost three years of pursuing opportunities, he finally landed his first deal with Sony Urban and Columbia.
Born Wardell Raymond Cheeks, Cash grew up on the east side of Cleveland in an area known as "The Hill." He did not take rapping seriously at first. In high school, he would freestyle over his classmates' banging on the lunchroom tables. His contentment with only schoolyard rhymes ended when he saw Jay-Z perform in Cleveland during the Hard Knock Life tour — it inspired him to rap professionally. Cash released his first two singles, "Sex Appeal (Pimp in My Rhyme)" and "Smokin' and Leanin'," in 2005, but they did not catch any real buzz other than some regional airplay. Nonetheless, his debut album, Cash on Delivery, in June 2006 did garner some positive reviews from critics. It featured production from Rockwilder and Rick Rock as well as notable guest spots from rap veterans Scarface and Bun B of UGK.