James BKS

James BKS

"Along with James BKS’ unique production aesthetic, “New Breed” has an empowering vibe to it" EARMILK

James BKS belongs to a new wolves’ breed. Not the one that roams the European mountain pastures for ages and carries ancient myths. Rather the one that settled in Africa, called “golden wolf” and which embodies another era, a new travelling generation. Across France, the US and Africa, home to his ancestral roots; Wolves Of Africa. It is the outcome of a long personal, artistic, and family quest, a testimony to how finding one’s own musical route may sometimes take a lifetime.

His life begins in France in 1982, but radically changes when his family moves to the United States. Over there, within a prolific musical scene, he discovers hip-hop production alongside his own talent, that he never knew existed. Faced with this newfound passion, he works and composes relentlessly and quickly manages to produce instrumentals for heavyweights such as Snoop Dogg, Akon, Puff Daddy and Ja Rule. In the twilight of the 2000s, he achieves the famous American dream and moves to Atlanta, where the future of electronic music is
brewing.

At the dawn of the 2010s, his will to regain control over his musical creativity and to free himself from the stranglehold of the music industry lead him to return to France and set up his own structure, Grown Kid. Since producers are often subject to multitasking, he decides to undertake everything: artist development, sound branding, soundtrack composition, artist development, and image
music production, movie soundtracks… Until the day he finally meets his biological father, the famous Manu Dibango.

Thanks to a storm of events that some may call “fate”, he gradually formed a strong bond with his father, like a slow and thoughtful journey back to his roots. Following this reunion, James BKS’ musical vision took an unprecedented turn. He immersed himself into Douala culture, into Bulu and even Bikutsi rhythms. Shaped by these new-found musical influences (and his pop background), his new album reverberates African culture.

In 2017, James BKS composed the song “Kwele”, based on the sample of “Senga Abele” which was recorded by his father in 1990. After all, you don’t just erase your hip-hop reflexes in the snap of a finger. “Kwele” is in fact the first stone to compose the musical edifice that is “Wolves of Africa” Since James BKS is a wolf whose music has no homeland, he remains keen to work with a
wide array of renowned artists and musical connections. On “New Breed”, he manages to bring together the legendary producer and rapper Q-Tip, as well as Idris Elba and Little Simz. The same goes for his song “King”, on which he features Royce Da 5’9, considered “one of the best living American rappers”.

Carried by profound values and the desire to leave a positive trace for future generations, this album recounts a heartfelt story of transmission, lineage and heritage. But transmission is also synonymous with reappropriation. On “Wolves of Africa”, James BKS melds musical tradition with electronic rhythms that are found on the African continent.

He brings together Congolese guitars, roaring Nigerian basses, playful female choirs and Congolese brass instruments. Each sound echoes modernity like the tracks “Kusema” and “O Bosso”, which embody the fusion of African tradition and contemporary technology.

Wolves of Africa is the album of a lifetime, a milestone in an ongoing existential journey. Perhaps the track which best sums up this state of mind is the closing of the tracklist: “Pana Nija”. Featuring Parker Ighile and Gracy Hopkins (who is also a member of his band New Breed Gang), it summons Manu Dibango’s memory, voice and kindness. As if to symbolize a heritage, an artistic and personal journey now synonymous with pride. As if to illustrate that although a wolf disappears, its spirit endures and generates a new kind of music : that of James BKS.

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