Saturday - Eendrachtsplein
James BKS (FR)
James BKS is a unique artist. French of Cameroonian descent, he spent his childhood
between France and the United States. Producer for world renowned rappers and a gifted
original score music composer, James’ journey is the strength that has led him collaborate with
the greatest artists of the current Afro-urban scene.
It all started in the2000 when his family moved to the United States. James nurtured his
passion for basketball, and even considered becoming a professional player … which might
have happened if he hadn’t discovered music production. He began to compose and tried to
find a way to get his music out, until one of his mixtapes reached Akon’s ears. Signed on his
label Konvict Muzik, James, 25 is propelled at the heart of the music industry. He produced for
the biggest names of the American and French rap scene (Puff Daddy, Ja Rule, T-Pain, Snoop,
Talib Kweli, Booba, Soprano). His dream, his American dream starts to comes true.
This seemingly idyllic route, however, hides some hardships. The lack of contact with the artists
for whom he produces, alongside with the stereotypical requests from record labels led James
to feel trapped in a position where creativity no longer reigned. In 2010, he made the delicate
decision to regain his freedom. After a long-needed break, he returned to France and founded
alongside his wife Cecilia, Grown Kid, a music and sound production agency. This adventure
opened up his horizons and led to the composition and production of sound identities and
original compositions for brands such as Prada, L’Or Espresso, Armani and Yves Saint
Laurent. He has also composed several soundtracks for feature films.
This “artistic renaissance”, however, was challenged by his past: in 2013, he unexpectedly met
his biological father, Manu Dibango. An unforeseen meeting that reconnected him to his
African condition and reinforced his innate talent for music, pushed him even further in the
quest for self, and nourished new meetings in particular with the African musicians of Salif
Keita or Stevie Wonder.
This quest contributes to James’ acceptance of exposure and to accept his status as an artist.
A message is born. In 2016 beside his father, he composed the anthem of the Francophonie
for the Olympic Games in Rio, in the company of Black M, Christophe Willem and Inna Modja.
Feeding on the past to move towards the future, James composes his music while closely
listening to his core identity, which revolves between hip-hop, African percussion and pop
melodies. A music that sounds like the unique meeting point between all the cultures that
nourished him and how his first personal tracks, Kwele and New Breed, are born. Between
traditional African rhythms and avant-garde urban sounds, these sounds are underlined by
Swahili choirs and international voices from North America, Europe or Africa.
His compositions showcase with harmony all parts of his identity. And that’s how James BKS’s
journey is universal: it invites each of us to break free from preconceived codes by combining
tradition, modernity, and heritage. A unique combination.