Photo: Michael Tran/FilmMagic
Kim Kardashian and Ray J, also known as Ray Norwood, dated two decades ago. Their sex tape was released 15 years ago. And here we are, in 2022, still talking about it.
The sex tape made headlines again earlier this year after being featured prominently in the first few episodes of The Kardashians, the new family reality show on Hulu, prompting Ray J to speak out and claim that Kim and her mother, Kris Jenner, orchestrated the tape’s original release, calling b.s. on the Kardashians storyline in an interview with The Daily Mail. At the time, the Kardashians didn’t respond. Now, months later, Ray J is once again telling his side of the story — this time on Instagram Live.
To keep up with what’s going down, here’s everything you need to know.
Kim and Ray J dated from 2002-2006, and reportedly filmed the sex tape during a trip to Cabo in 2004. The footage didn’t become public until 2007, when rumors started floating around about footage obtained by Vivid Entertainment. After the rumors started, Kim’s then-attorney Steven Kurtz filed a lawsuit against Vivid trying to stop the release. It didn’t work. Kim Kardashian Superstar was released on March 21, 2007, and Kim settled the lawsuit a month later. Founder of Vivid Entertainment, Steven Hirsch, told “Page Six” in 2017 that the deal was not brokered by Kim or Kris, explicitly noting that, when the footage was first presented to him, “Kim was not involved in it.” According to “Page Six,” Kim and Ray J both had to sign off on a deal before the tape could be released, and were reportedly paid around $5 million, but Hirsh maintained that Kim fought very hard against it. “It was a very difficult deal to get done. Probably [the hardest deal we’ve done]. [Kim] did not want it to happen,” he said.
Sex tape aside, the relationship between the Norwood family and the Kardashian family has been tense. In 2008, Ray J’s mother, Sonja Norwood, sued Kim, Khloé, Kourtney, and Rob Kardashian for alleged credit-card theft. The case was later dismissed in 2009, with reports suggesting it was settled out of court.
Meanwhile, it took years, but somewhere along the run of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the tape faded into the background. Though it occasionally popped up in storylines on the show, the references were few and far between. Ray J also capitalized on the scandal, releasing two songs about Kim — the infamous “I Hit It First” in 2013, and “Famous” in 2016.
For the most part, fans thought the scandal had worn off. Kim even joked about her “movie” in her Saturday Night Live monologue that aired in October of 2021. And then 2022 happened.
After Kim’s relationship with Pete Davidson went public, and a reconciliation between Ye and Kim became pretty unrealistic, Ye started a flurry of Instagram activity in early 2022. This included an interview with Hollywood Unlocked in which he claimed, among many other things, that he “went and got the laptop from Ray J” the night before SNL. The rapper implied that he had recovered a laptop containing footage of the sex tape, saying that Kim cried when he gave it to her. “It represents how much she’s been used. It represents how much people didn’t love her and they just saw her as a commodity.”
At the time, Ray J’s manager released a statement saying that he “will not be discussing or addressing the past.”
The Kardashians premiered in April and immediately made the sex tape a storyline. In the first episode, Kim was shaken when Saint, her son, showed her a pop-up ad on Roblox that allegedly featured her much-memed crying face. When clicked on, the ad supposedly offered a new Kim Kardashian sex tape. After seeing the ad, Kim got her lawyers involved, telling them, “I am 99.9 percent sure that no other tape exists.”
In episode two, Kim tells Khloé, Kourtney, and Kris that someone is threatening to release more footage, saying, “Ray J’s manager is claiming he has a sex tape of us in Santa Barbara.” While on the phone with her lawyer, sitting in a closet full of Skims as she packs to head to New York for SNL, Kim proudly declares, “I have all the time, all the money, and all of the resources to burn this to the fucking ground.”
But it’s the third episode that caught Ray J’s attention. It’s the morning of Kim’s SNL debut, and Kanye has just arrived at her hotel with a black carry-on filled with a desktop computer and hard drives, supposedly housing the original tape footage. The gesture — Kanye flew coach (coach!) all the way from New York to Los Angeles to get it — had the entire Kardashian family in tears. Kris thanked the rapper, saying that she knew it must have cost him to retrieve the footage, to which Ye responded, “Definitely not no check. We not getting extorted ever again.”
And Kim was, of course, especially grateful. “I know Kanye did this for me, but he also did this for my kids,” she said. “I want to shield them from as much as I can, and if I have the power to, or if Kanye has the power to, like, that is the most important thing to me.” She also said that she watched the video and was relieved to find out that it was “nothing sexual, nothing weird.”
After the episode aired on April 27, the clip went viral and was posted to Hollywood Unlocked’s official Instagram on April 30, where Ray J commented, “All of this is a lie smh — Can’t let them do this anymore — so untrue.”
A week later, hours before a new episode of The Kardashians was set to be released, Ray J’s exclusive interview with Daily Mail dropped. In the interview, Ray J insisted that he “never leaked a sex tape in my life,” adding that the entire thing was “a deal and a partnership between Kris Jenner and Kim and me.” To hear Ray J tell it, he was the mastermind who first floated the idea of releasing the sex tape to help boost Kim’s career, having been inspired by Kim’s friend, Paris Hilton. He claimed that once Kim was onboard, they enlisted Kris to make the deal happen. “Once I pitched the idea to her, just playing around a little bit, that’s when she jumped on the idea, talked to her mom and it was out of my hands from there,” he said.
Ray J also claimed that the footage has never been in his possession. “I never had a single one at my house — she had them all at her house. She’s always had all the tapes in a Nike shoe box under her bed,” he said. However, the singer and former Love & Hip Hop star did acknowledge that he provided some materials to Ye, but maintained that it wasn’t any footage from the sex tape. According to Daily Mail, Ray J gave Ye a laptop that contained “intimate photos and ‘mini-videos’” acquired during their relationship. He also claimed that the computer contained “a lot of proof that we’ve been talking over the years,” saying that he had contact with Kim in 2007 through 2009. He clarified that his comment on Hollywood Unlocked calling the clip from The Kardashians “a lie” was not in reference to his meeting with Ye, but to the Kardashians in general. “From the beginning of us putting this sex tape out, this has been the biggest lie in the industry in the history of entertainment.”
In the interview, the singer said, “I felt suicidal because when you know something’s real and it’s true and you’re watching a whole family create an empire from a lie they’ve created, it’s heartbreaking and disrespectful to all the entertainers who have been honest and true to their craft.”
He also claimed that the public perception of him as the one who leaked the tape has cost him job opportunities. “I couldn’t be a part of any reputable major network television show and do Dancing With the Stars, and do America’s Got Talent or anything like that because of my image. Because of what they made me, I’m not allowed to be in those spaces.”
Included in the Daily Mail article are alleged Instagram DMs between Ray J and Kim. In the messages, Ray J confronts Kim about the sex-tape storyline in The Kardashians, saying in part, “We sat down with [redacted] and your mom and we planned all of this together.” In another message, he wrote, “You know what we did! Your mom controlled this whole sex-tape deal.” He then specifically called out one line from the show, in which Kim joked that maybe there was a sex tape she didn’t know about. “What if I was fucking sleeping and he stuck a dildo up my ass,” she joked to her lawyers in the episode. In her alleged response, Kim doesn’t address his claims about her and Kris brokering the deal to release the sex tape, which Ray J said is an admission of guilt. “She never denied on these DMs anything that I’ve told her,” he said.
However, the DMs aren’t that clear. In her alleged response, Kim focused on the episode and the quip he found objectionable, but also maintained that it was his manager who started this whole thing. “The show filmed in real time the day in hell that I had with my lawyers when your manager threatened to release another tape that doesn’t exist,” she allegedly wrote. She also apologized for the joke, and said she would release a public statement clarifying that she was joking about a possible dildo sex tape. “We will get something out tomorrow morning to clarify that this was a joke and that you would have never done something like this,” she wrote. In fact, after the scene aired, TMZ ran an article citing “sources” that claimed Kim did not actually believe there was any such footage.
Ray J said he isn’t looking for money. “I just want my daughter and my son to appreciate what I’ve done here on Earth and know their dad doesn’t go for exploiting women, disrespecting women, and leaking footage of someone who didn’t give permission.”
During September appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Kris sat for a lie detector test. When Corden asked, “Did you help Kim release her sex tape?” she responded with a clear “No,” which was validated by the man administering the test. “Oh, I like that. We cleared that up,” she said before moving on to the next question. This did not sit well with Ray J, who went to Instagram to respond.
In his original post Saturday, Sept. 10, Ray J tagged Kim, writing, “YOU [fucked] with THE WRONG BLACK MAN.” In the video, he claimed that he originally thought about going through the courts, accusing the Kardashians of “defaming” him, but decided to schedule an Instagram Live presentation instead. “We goin’ through receipts tonight, Kris. We goin’ through receipts tonight, Kim,” he said.
In the caption itself, Ray J also alluded to the settlement between the Kardashians and his mother for fraud, writing, “YOU STOLE ALL THAT MONEY FROM MY MOM AND SISTER — OVER 800k and YOU HAD TO PAY IT BACK BECAUSE YOU WERE GUILTY AND THE JUDGE ORDERED IT!!” He also claimed that Kim “NEVER SUED STEVE HIRSH FOR 5M BECAUSE WE ALL MADE THAT UP TOGETHER,” though reports confirm Kim filed a lawsuit against Vivid Entertainment in 2007. He concluded his post, saying that he was doing this “FOR MY KIDS.”
In a follow-up post, he went after the administer of the polygraph, John Grojan, who frequently administers lie detector tests for various media outlets — he’s appeared on The Try Guys as well as in Vanity Fair’s “Lie Detector Test” series. He claimed the lie detector test on The Late Late Show was falsified and calling him a “fraud.”
Ray J went live on Instagram Saturday night from what appeared to be a private screening room. He read directly from what he claimed were text exchanges between him and Ye, supposedly showing that he was willing to comply with Ye’s requests. He also claimed that Ye had asked him for the contracts, supposedly because “Kim don’t want people to know that she signed my deliverables.” He proceeded to share the supposed contract he signed with Vivid Entertainment, alleging Kim had also signed.
Over the course of his presentation, he again accused Kris of negotiating the release of the sex tape. He also claimed that Vivid purchased three separate tapes, and Kris pushed for the release of one over the others because “it gives my daughter a better look.”
He told viewers he wanted fans to “demand for them to respond” and “demand them to admit that they’ve been fucking me over and they should immediately bow down to the facts and go ahead and apologize.” He added, “That will make me feel better than anything in the world.”
He also shared his alleged DMs with Kim, which appear to be the same DMs he previously released to The Daily Mail. Soon, he got frustrated with his friends who were helping him with the presentation on Instagram Live, Ray J left the room to find his other phone. Once he recovered his phone, he struggled to locate his DMs with Kim. The live feed stopped soon after.
He returned to Instagram with a 44-minute video post later that night to go through his DMs with Kim once again, coincidentally showing that Kim had not blocked him. In the video, he once again walked through the alleged Vivid Entertainment contract, and brainstormed about possible lawsuits against the Kardashians. He eventually called it a night, saying, “I got a lot more to show, but I’m gonna leave it at that for a minute.” Ray J ended with a message for the Kardashians, saying he had more documents to release. “This ain’t over,” he said.
Kim Kardashian hasn’t responded to Ray J’s claims, but depending on whether or not she’s currently filming, it might just be a matter of time before we see this play out all over again.
This post has been updated.