Luke James has released two brand-new music videos in just about as many weeks in anticipation of his debut album’s release but the New Orleans native has had an industry buzz for far longer than that. It all started with the 2012 release of the hit single “I Want You,” which earned James a Grammy nomination in 2013. James followed up its success with a series of concert dates opening up for the Queen B herself, Beyonce, garnering more fans along the way. With the steady release of steamy and sultry singles and accompanying music videos for “Make Love to Me”, “I.O.U.”, “Options” and “Dancing in the Dark” James has succeeded in impressing the masses as much with his vocal prowess as with his fierce good looks, but there’s much more to this music man.
With his twitter handle @whoisLukejames, the soul singer virtually implores us to dig a little deeper and explore the essence of who is he and what he’s about. We got a chance to do just that during our recent interview with him. James is seemingly the embodiment of crazy.sexy.cool. Crazy, because he rides through NYC’s mean streets at night on a skateboard. Sexy, because he was just born that way. Cool, because he wears a signature ring that he says makes him feel so. Intrigued? Burning to know more? Check out our exclusive VH1 interview, then cop his debut album, out today!
VH1: You wear a certain signature ring all the time that is featured prominently in the album art for your debut album. Is there a backstory on it?
Luke James: Well, this ring, honestly the backstory is that it just makes me feel cool. When I think of the great artists that I admire they always had something, whether it be their hair, rings or whatever. And it’s just I like simplicity, and this ring is like the first installment to my jewelry collection. And a friend of mine got it for me. It just makes me feel good, so I have to wear it, especially when I perform.
What did you want to accomplish in terms of your sound on your album?
This new album, which is my official album, hopefully you can hear growth and a whole lot of feeling. I mean this album, it’s definitely the prelude to my story. I just want you to get a good idea of who I am, and just know that there’s no boundaries on where I’m willing to go.
Leading up to this album release you did three videos, including the song “Options” with Rick Ross. We see a grittier, edgier side to Luke James in this video, do you agree?
Yes, I grew a beard in “Options.” I mean, I’m a dude, I’m a man. So, growing a beard is just quite natural for us. A lot of people try to make me cut it because it makes you look younger, but at the end of the day I’m a messenger, and I feel like my image and my music go together hand in hand. So, in the video I wanted to portray a struggle and conflict within the song. It’s a very intense, personal song, and I wanted it to feel as if you were going to a Broadway show and it was a one-man show.
How did the collaboration with Rick Ross come about, and how was it working with him?
That collaboration happened sort of organically. Shouts out to Def Jam. They sent him the record, he loved it, he jumped on it, I found out later, we talked on the phone, and then the next week we shot a video. The song, being that it has such a strong topic, if it were to feature someone I wanted it to have a voice to our generation. Someone that people adhere to when they hear him, and Rick Ross is one of those people.
Was there anything you were surprised to learn or experience about Rick?
His respect for me. And that right there was enough for me. The respect and him calling me legend. That’s pretty cool.
Speaking of legends, how do you feel about being compared to soul music icon Marvin Gaye?
That’s beautiful. I was raised on Marvin Gaye. Before I knew Babyface or anyone else, I knew Marvin Gaye. My mother played Marvin Gaye. My mother has stories of going to Marvin Gaye’s concerts and her being told to get down from standing on the seats, and her threatening to throw up on the security if they touch her because she was just that into Marvin Gaye and he moved her that much. And that taught me with your music, you’re a persona in totality, and you want it to move people in that way where they forget about drama or anything else and just think of a good times when they listen to you.
What female artists would you love to record with?
Jazmine Sullivan, Beyonce, Erykah Badu. There’s so many beautiful voices. I would love to do a whole album called Luke James and the Girls.
Do you have a nickname?
People sometimes call me Wolf. Big Daddy. King. Yeah… I have proof [laughter].
As well as making a name for yourself in the world of music, you’ve gotten some acting credits under your belt with Black Nativity, featuring your fellow actor/musicians Nas, Tyrese and Jennifer Hudson. Anything else in the acting world on the horizon for you?
Nothing I can speak of right now, but yes things are in the works. I’m looking forward to pursuing that type of art. I love acting. It’s way different from singing, but I like really put my ten thousand hours in to be really good. I want to be a premier actor. I want Oscars, I want recognition, and I want to move people just as much as I move people with my music, the same with my acting.
Any words for your fans about the new album?
I think they’ll be able to hear all the years we’ve been putting out singles. I saw somewhere that somebody wrote about me as the king of singles. Now you get to hear all of that put together. You get to really see the movie and not just little trailers. More and more to come…
Luke James is currently featured on the BET College Tour! For tour dates and more info go to his Official Website.
[Photo Credit: Sarah McColgan, Island Records]