D-Ray Archer needs no last name in the West Coast rap world; she's widely known as one of the few female photojournalists with a street stamp of approval up and down the state. Her deep love for the local Bay Area scene is apparent to anyone who talks to her for five minutes.
But now D-Ray needs help from her community: She's raising funds for an urgently-needed surgery for an undisclosed but life-threatening condition.
"D-Ray has played a major role in giving Bay Area artists visibility outside of the Bay Area," says Julia Beverly, publisher of Ozone, a leading Southern rap media company in Atlanta. D-Ray served as West Coast editor for Ozone West, a dedicated magazine within a magazine when Ozone published in print form. "Every time I've met a West Coast artist, DJ, etcetera, I felt like I already knew them through D-Ray's photos."This short video compiling dozens of D-Ray's images offers a quick glimpse of her visual talent as a photographer as well as her close access to artists both local and international. She's onstage, backstage, at video shoots, afterparties, sideshows, and many places where someone who isn't respected in the streets can never go. "As an editor, it's a huge asset to have someone as connected to the streets as D-Ray," affirms Beverly, who carries similar credibility in the Southern rap community. "She's not only connected, but she knows how to document the moments visually. Being a photojournalist is often a thankless job, but the artists in the Bay really seem to understand and appreciate how involved D-Ray is with the community." I met D-Ray in person just one time, while being a conspicuous fly on the wall at Too $hort's Oakland video shoot for "Blow the Whistle" in 2006. $hort had invited me personally, but he was a little bit busy, and for some reason I felt awkward being there with no one I knew. Perhaps D-Ray sensed this: She instantly made me feel at home for the rest of the day, and it was clear that she was well-known and respected in the crowd. In the years since, she's been generous with information and resources for stories, and I've admired her hustle and absolute commitment to Bay Area rap. A surgery scheduled for this week was canceled due to financial constraints, so what's needed most urgently are monetary donations in any amount via PayPal (use the email address firstname.lastname@example.org). She's also got a 2012 wall calendar called "Watching The Days Go By" that can be purchased on Rapbay.