During recent television and music performances, James portrayed New Edition’s Johnny Gil, covered Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father” and sang during the 2017 Soul Train Award tribute to Toni Braxton. He finds being able to honor musical figures important.
“It’s people that kind of led the way through their trials and tribulations but still reached the mountain top of putting music out or their art out and inspiring this kid from New Orleans,” James, 34, said about honoring some of music’s greatest. “To be able to give flowers to these people while they are here and to continue to do such is important because these people helped all of our lives in so many different ways and they have no clue.”
James gave his opinion on the king of R&B debate, which was sparked in December 2018 after music newcomer Jacquees proclaimed the title for himself. His move sparked an ongoing conversation among fans and singers.
“I think such a title [or] trolling situation doesn’t warrant the energy from such beings as talented, gifted individuals,” James said in response to being left out of the mainstream conversation. “We’re all human, so we feel it. In hindsight, I know when BJ [the Chicago Kid] is in the studio creating it’s not a thought in his head.”
He added, “I know for me it’s not a thought. It’s just an [observation] like ‘Oh, this is [a] trending thing that is happening.’”
The “Drip” singer said that he is unmoved by the conversation because he views himself as much more than a title.
“I don’t really consider myself in that category,” James said. “Not to sound larger than life, but I actually feel like I’m larger than that box, king of R&B. I don’t understand how to talk about that because it’s so small to me.”
The Star actor also agreed with Chaka Khan’s February 2019 statement that today’s singers lack talent. Watch the full interview above and be on the lookout for new music from James this year.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.