Ro James On When He Learned Black Was Beautiful

Go behind-the-scenes with Ro James as he talks about his cultural background and musical influences just before hitting the stage in the Ford "Now Playing" Superlounge at ESSENC Festival 2017! 

ESSENCE.COM Jul, 05, 2017
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[MUSIC] Check. It feels amazing to be performing at Essence. Like I was just saying, it's levels. I always wanted to play Essence, so the first time I came, I played the lounge. So now I'm playing the dome, I put my album out. So it feels great to be able to share with my people. It's just great, it feels good. It's hot, but it feels great. [LAUGH] It's hot but I feel like I love the culture of New Orleans. And not even that the history is so important I'm learning a lot of new things even today about the bayou. I never been before I wanna see what it's like the food, the gamble, all the different things that you Had to offer. My favorite part about Essence is being able to check out all the different artists that Essence brings together. People I probably admired or wanted to check out for the longest, and finally have the chance. I feel like my favorite part is just meeting new people. Random people that I've never seen before that come up to me and talk to me, and it's just love, like you said. It's black love. Everybody's coming together and supporting and encouraging so I love that. It's my third time. [MUSIC] I listen to a lot of everybody from Johnny Cash, to Prince, to Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gale, [BLANK_AUDIO] Red, and Jodeci. [INAUDIBLE] DiAngelo, H-Town. I listen to a lot of hip hop music, as well. Nas, Jay, Kanye. And I try to put all of that into my music. I grew up listening to a lot of sulka music as well, reggae. So, Ro James has his own style, his own voice, his own tone. I can't compare myself really to anybody because I feel like I'm just myself. I'm the balance of both, I'm a balance of very serious, but have a lot of fun at the same time. I see your face when I close my eyes. << [SOUND] << [LAUGH] [MUSIC] Fans, I feel like, as they get to know me they'll see that that's what makes me me; that's what makes me unique, the fact that I am both. I'm smooth but at the same time, I'm rock-n-roll. I have fun. All my life I knew that black was beautiful. My mom is from Panama, but she Also instilled in us that we are black, we are a culture. And that to appreciate and be proud of my skin color, who I am, what I represent. Why background, our history, that what makes us who we are, that's what makes us strong. And that's what makes us individual, that's what makes up dope, that's what makes us unique. That's what makes us coveted, that's what makes people wanna hop onto our culture, or our lifestyle, the way we do things, our originality. Black is beautiful, I knew that from a young age which carries on to my adulthood. [MUSIC]