Artist (I am) James Wade began his professional career as an independent artist in January of 2010. Earning his degree in Communications Management, Sociology/Women’s studies in 2009 and studying the industry from a fans perspective, Wade graduated in 2009 with the vision to market his lyrical ability and dynamic persona in the competitive environment of today’s hip-hop artists. Wade spent years in both Georgia and the midwest cultivating his knowledge of varying demographics and shaping his over-all style of music. His unique sound, which mixes spoken word and lyricism with heavy R&B soul and indie-rock influences, has garned Wade the respect of industry critics with San Diego, CA’s Synspeak stating: ‘J. Wade delivers. Musicians toil to perfect the balance between niche sound and mass appeal; few do it with success, but Wade has the potential to do so (if he hasn’t already)’.
Entertwine: Could you give us some insight into your musical background? Who or what led you to pursue a career in music? I’ve always been a song writer, spoken word writer. I’ve always been a fan of different genres, artists – I listen to everything… so my love as a fan – got me into it, I started professionally recording material in ’09. It always seemed inevitable that I would end up in music, just always being a writer, and loving music – all genres – but especially hip hop, people in school would hear me freestyle at parties, it went from that to battling duus all over the city, then I was performing in clubs and bars and then I opened for Mike Posner and then released my own project – and I mean the positive reception from people pushed me to take my craft more seriously and push to take it to higher levels
My unofficial debut EP – The Common Ground dropped in 09 – my dj at the time, DJ Beats passed my music on to DJ Ill WIll – and then Ill WIll and I dropped Popular Stranger and that’s how it all started
You’ve lived in a number of different cities and states; how have each of the places you’ve lived influenced you, both personally and musically? Georgia gave me my sauce man, I learned the game there, just the vibe, the style in my music came from GA, because I was raised there, growing up there was crazy, I was always in and out of trouble, probation, I just was wild out there and so that bravado comes from my time there. Illinois I learned and understood the industry and its community man, ive met some of the most talented artists, some of the most talented writers ive ever seen/heard in Illinois, that area is more grit – like they not trying to hear nothing but bars, and aggressive content and the scene is its own individual entity. Ohio man, I was in my bag in Ohio – that’s just where I had the most positive relationships and experiences in music, Ohio is the spot man, lowkey – Ohio goes super hard on the music scene and just night life is dope, and its all inspiring – good and bad – its got its own culture. I feel most at home out there straight up. I’m always shouting out Ohio – its just an underdog can win mentality and it keeps you grinding. Tennessee was super dope as well, I learned more about other types of music out there and just that country, straight country, down south vibe help add another dimension to my music style and writing. Alabama has just put me in a reality that people take for granted exists, its bad down here man, old school racism and sexism and alive and well. Its just an old way of living, I think my naivety to this way of living is gone, its definitely help me mature and understand my role as an artist and the voice and responsibility we have to inform people as well as entertain.
Could you tell us about some of the music scenes that you’ve been a part of in the cities you’ve lived in? How have the music scenes in the cities you’ve lived in been similar or different to/from each other? All the music scenes are different, when you go somewhere like Birmingham and you talk about Cleveland artists – they have no idea who youre talking about, go to the west and they don’t know whats hot in the Midwest – its crazy – the Ohio scene is dope – they just crave music and artists – Illinois has some of the most talented people ive ever met – Tennessee is big business in the industry and the networking is dope. Alabama is underground, its literally the gutter – you make it here you can make it anywhere.
Could you tell us about the four projects that you’ve released to this date (“The Common Ground”, “WhereUBeen”, “The Ugly Show” and “Popular Stranger”)? What experiences and events inspired the writing and recording of these projects? Could you tell us about some of the featured tracks from each project?
The Common Ground was an EP I released with DJ Beats – it was just meant to target the local level just to gauged where I was as far as buzz. It took off, and he was able to get me on several blogs and just a lot of other djs took notice. I dropped a single entitled “Weatherman” produced by Kajmir Royale – and it received over 50,000 plays online
Popular Stranger was my collaboration with DJ Ill WIll of Tha Alumni (Kid Ink, etc) It blew up – from jump. It was nominated as Mixtape of the month on several sites, mixtape of the week on several other sites and received over 50,000 plays and downloads. It made hotnewhiphop’s top 100 mixtapes. I was just having fun with the record, it was an opportunity to be heard by more people, and I went into the writing process with guns blazing. I just wanted to be the most clever, the most unique, just wanted to give people that “old school” feeling of just “good music” – stand out tracks were “Smile” “On Our Way” “Mr. Blue” “Man In My City”
I released a B-side single called “Don’t Bother Me” – it contained a sample by Rascal Flatts
The Ugly show was a collaboration with DJ Benzi (Mike Posner, etc) it was politically charged, a far cry from Popular Stranger – it was considered groundbreaking and controversial. I dealt with poverty, sexism, racism, police brutality, suicide, domestic violence
I continued to push the envelop by adding elements of gospel, with alternative and dubstep influences on hip hop tracks. Stand out tracks were “Lights On” (Dubstep / hip hop track) and “Oscar Grant” (named after an unarmed black male killed at the Bart station in Oakland, California) It helped to paint me as a serious artists and not just a mainstream artist (for better or worse)
WhereUBeen was me finding a balance between being socially aware and still being relative and making feel good music. Its my most complete project. I went in without a DJ and it was several times delayed. I was just happy to finally get it out – it spawned my most famous single “Off Switch) (55k+ on youtube) and also standout track “Good Times” (sample of Owl City’s Good Time) was featured on several blogs I also dropped “Garcia Vega”. The content on this project is my personal favorite.
What can you tell us about each of the music videos you’ve released via YouTube (‘Garcia Vega’, ‘Off Switch’, ‘BreakUp’, ‘Hall Pass’, ‘Oscar Grant’ and ‘Lights On’)? What went into the making of each? Did you work with the same videographers and directors for each video? My most successful video is “Off Switch” the idea was to really capitalize on my slogan “WHO YOU THINK KEEP THE LIGHTS ON?!?” The single itself was just real high speed, lyrically heavy track and Nicholas Schmidt who directed 80% of my videos, just used is creativity to add visuals to the lyrics on the track, its dynamic and clean with a simple feel to it all in one.
“Oscar Grant” was the most work we put into a story line and we wanted to create the idea that Oscar Grant’s daughter grew up and everywhere she turned she was faced with the idea of dying no matter where she went, and I simply convey the idea that anyone can be killed like Oscar Grant. we are all Oscar Grant.
“Hall Pass” was shot by Nicholas Schmidt and Dan Gotti – it was basically me and my squad in Ohio, just kickin it – and that’s how I shoot videos, the humanistic feel, just allow people to live their normal lives and capture that, nothings realer than that.
“BreakUp” was in the same vain, me and a young lady, sharing mutual interests – what it looks like, the struggle between staying in something and getting out of it.
“Lights On” was my first video, we threw a party and just shot me from waking up that day, to getting ready for the party, to performing at the party, we just wanted it to be realistic, nothing was scripted that why I loved it, it was all naturally happening through the day. Nick did this one too, hes a genius man, Ive been blessed to build that type of relationship with him and make dope visuals.
Over the years you’ve opened for Big Sean, MGK, Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller and Mike Posner; have these been some of the most exciting or interesting live performances that you have been a part of? Man watching Big Sean and MGK perform was mind blowing, these cats know how to put on a show. Mike Posner has a way with crowds, so does Mac Miller and Wiz. Wiz will just vibe out the whole show, he’s got a cult following, they are all chill, it was all dope man, I’ve learned so much from watching these artists, asking questions when I could and just soaking up the game.
You wrote, recorded and dedicated a song (titled ‘Showcase’) to the University of Dayton men’s basketball team that advanced to the Elite Eight in 2014; could you tell us about your time at Dayton and how it influenced your pursuance of a career in music? I think if it wasn’t for Dayton, I would have never pursued music. My skills really came to the forefront and Dayton, and I was given the opportunity to showcase my skills at several shows, festivals, etc – It taught me how to make relative music and capture audiences that weren’t particularly familiar with my style of music. Ive opened for Blessed Unions of Souls and LMFAO – you have to learn how to adjust. Dayton made my music career, bottom line, the network I created there, the opportunities, the platform, was all because of Dayton. DJ Beats who guided my career early and is literally responsible for my success I met at Dayton, he believed in me, more than I believed in myself, my homeboy Stank who is from Stone Mountain, GA too, who I met at Dayton was also someone who pushed me to pursue music.
What does your writing and recording process look and sound like? Do you work with the same producers and engineers for each project or do you regularly collaborate with different producers and engineers? I like to work with the same type of producers – but I’m always looking for new collabs – I let the music move me – I never know what I’m looking for until I hear it… Kajmir Royale has the majority of my production credits – hes a beast. shoutout to Soundhype and Mike Downey, DJ RP produced some crazy tracks for me, hes got a completely different style(EDM / Dubstep) but our collabs are crazy. Clevelands Trump and Nito Beats, these duus always bless me with heat, I hear it, it puts me in a zone, and I create the record. My engineers are usually The Record Shop out in Tha Ville, Sean Giovanni has literally brought the best music out of me. DL is a beat on the mixing side as well and continues to be someone I collaborate heavy with, hes a beast. I like to write in terms of a complete project, know what the project is about and build songs around that concept – I work best that way. I’m never really interested in singles, even though that’s the way the game has gone, I feel like you are only getting a small scene in a movie and without context of the entire movie, you may not fully appreciate the scene. I love albums, they are events – like Dre’s new album “Compton” you can play it from beginning to end and it all flows together. That’s how I attempt to build my projects – with that same feel.
What can you tell us about the label/collective that you are a part of (Th3rd S3t)? Th3rd S3t came together to create an avenue for just genuinely good music to flourish, leave the industry better than we found it and show what we do works…
Started in 2010 – we’ve also had releases from DJ RP, B. Carden and Stukntraphik as well as myself
I’m really hyped for the future of Th3rd S3t weve got a lot of projects in the works – and I’m in the booth but behind the boards as well, so I enjoy building brands, building careers, building projects – that’s what we about and our slogan is “WHO YOU THINK KEEPS THE LIGHTS ON?!?” Meaning we are the reason good music still exists – we are keeping the lights on in hip hop’s house
What do the remaining months of 2015 hold in store for James Wade? Are you currently working on new material? Do you have any upcoming performances? I’ve got a few more upcoming performances with the Get Money, Stop Hating Tour in Atlanta and I’m performing at the MANNA Music Festival in Illinois – I constantly dropped interactive freestyles on my fan page www.facebook.com/IamJamesWadefanpage so check that out, new freestyles coming soon. I have two singes coming out soon, French Toast (Cleveland) -produced by Cleveland Trump its an ode to the beautiful women I’ve met in Cleveland, Ohio and FSB produced by Kajmir Royale which is a laid back, ride track that is incredible.
I’m working on my new project YAMBTYT which stands for (You Are More Beautiful Thank You Think) its gonna be a super dope concept piece to just get people to enjoy their lives and appreciate the little things, to love who you are and what you do, and not worry about how the world views but focus on how you view yourself. I hope to have that out by the top of 2016.
Connect With James Wade: