Words by Ime Ekpo
Hip-Hop culture has suffered a great loss from the loyal community.
New York City Dance Icon, VooDoo Ray born Raymond Ultarte, has reportedly passed away at the age of 50 on Tuesday (October 17). The cause of death is currently unknown. Ultarte was embedded into the roots of the Hip-Hop community through dance. He is notable in Hip-Hop culture for his electrifying dance moves which were infamous for bringing life into the parties of New York City nightlife. Formerly known as Boogie Ray, one of the first people he danced for was Hip-Hop pioneer, Kurtis Blow.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, VooDoo Ray was a pivotal force in New York City nightlife who evolved with the genre becoming a frequently featured dancer in several music videos throughout the 90s, into the millennium. Music videos on his resume include Run D.M.C. “It’s Like That”, Busta Rhymes “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See”, Wyclef Jean “We Trying To Stay Alive”, JAY-Z “Sunshine”, Mariah Carey “Honey”, Rah Digga “Party and Bullshit,” just to name a few!
Ray was ⅓ of DJ Tony Touch’s signature Toca Tuesday’s at Cielo and ½ of New York City’s once beloved Funkbox parties at Le Poisson Rouge. He was also a renowned party promoter and booking agent for New York City DJs, which heightened his stance in the Hip-Hop community. Many described him as being “the coolest person” who was a “Hip-Hop lover” that was “full of life” with a “heart of gold.”
The reactions from the Hip-Hop community were grand in shock and sorrow. Tony Touch, one of his closest, was speechless, posting a black space, with no caption. May VooDoo Ray, rest in peace. Take a look at the reactions of VooDoo Ray’s passing from notable bodies of the hip-hop community, below.
Rest In Peace To A Very Good Dude Voodoo Ray @mrvoodooray Ray Along With Tony Touch @djtonytouch & Danny Castro @dcashflow74 Gave So Many Of Us DJ’s In NYC An Opportunity To DJ @ They Toca Tues & Funkbox Parties. But Beyond That He Was The Coolest Dude You Would Ever Know. He Always Had A Smile On His Face. His Love For Music Was Impeccable. The Last Time I Saw Ray Was @ His 50th Bday Party In April @ Toca Tues @ Cielo In Manhattan. Rakim Was Scheduled To Come To His 50th Bday Bash But He Couldn’t Make It So Rakim Mgr & Danny Castro Asked Me Would I Come Do A DJ Set To Cover For Rakim. When They Told Me It Was Ray’s 50th Bday I Told Them I Would Most Definitely Do It. When I Started DJ’in @ The Club That Nite I Kept Saying On The Mic “RAY YOU CANNOT BE 50YRS OLD” Ray Came To The Booth & Said “YEAH CEE I’M REALLY 50” This Was The Last Pic We Took Together Which Was @ My 50th Bday Bash @ Cielo In Manhattan In August Of 2016. As You Can See Ray Does Not Look 50!!!! He Looks Young & Vibrant. I’m So Glad That I Was Able To Be There For His Last Bday In Physical Form!!! GODSPEED TO VOODOO RAY!!!! YOU WILL BE SORELY MISSED!!!!! TONY TOUCH & DANNY CASTRO STAY STRONG!!!!
I literally just got the sad news from Toca that Voodoo Ray has just passed… I'm on my way to do his spot at Cielo with Tony Touch and Danny Castro… I Told Tony Let's Not Shut It Down!!! Let's Celebrate His Life And His Night At Toca Tuesdays… That's The Beauty Of Music!!! R.I.P. Ray… We Gonna Rock This 4 U Hardbody! @mrvoodooray #TocaTuesdays #PremierWuzHere
Voodoo Ray man. If you had the time of your life at a New York party in the past 20—chances are this brother was part the reason—�either lighting up the dancefloor w his crew or throwing the actual party. A key fixture in New York club nightlife. It’s never gonna be the same man. Wow man. New York lost a legend last night. Rest easy @MrVoodooRay #VoodooRay
Ray.. you are sooo loved.. everyone knew that already, but seeing my timelines today full of the stories of all you did and were for so many.. it's incredible the impact of one life.. the ripple effect.. you are the definition of high vibrations.. captain of team spirit your energy smile dance and voice raised the frequency and vibration of any room blessed enough to have you in its presence. So much of me feels you were vibrating so high you just vibrated up on out of this dimension.. Though I didn't know you the decades that many of your close friends and colleagues have.. your spirit always resonated with me and I'm so grateful for all your contributions to our NYC & worldwide dance and music culture.. yet you were just doing what you loved all the while uplifting and encouraging everyone around you to do the same.. and for this you are such an inspiration to me and so many! We can all strive to live as vibrantly and beautifully as you did on this planet.. if we all took just a piece of what you gave us.. the passion the warmth the kindness the love and applied it as you did in your everyday then I'm positive we gonna be alright. Peaceful transitions earth angel.. We took this pic at my bday 3 years ago at output wit @the_litro in the back eating that bomb carrot cake! Was happy to see you & chat even briefly a few weeks ago outside at Mobile Mondays.. It was always laughter & smiles with you.. will so miss that until we all meet again.. ❤️✨❤️✨❤️ #love #forever #voodooray