This week’s First Look Friday features the dulcet vocal treatments of NYC crooner Ro James coming to us by way of Germany and Indianapolis. He boasts some of the most flexible vocal sensibilities this side of Musiq Soulchild, with a range that emulates that of Miguel‘s abilities. What we have here is another dynamic addition to the left-of-center spectrum of R&B, who really struts those sensibilities on his 4-tracks-o-funk Cadillacs EP. Yeah, at times he sounds like Miguel; yeah, sometimes he even sounds like D’Angelo, but the most impressive aspect of the record is his ability to dodge most of the labels commonly associated with that alternative brand of hip-hop and R&B. There’s a very effective blend here that shows us how antiquated the genre-labeling system is these days, and demands to break free of it.
Cadillacs opens up with a spoken-word introduction to the young artist’s story over some old-soul samples and a break, over which Ro steps in with “XIX.” Faded drums and smokey-clavs lay the foundation for his narrative, excellently expressed through a vocally layered hook. Then we drop into the harder and a bit darker sentiments of “Remind Me Of Me” with 808’s and rock guitar riffs treated by his smooth croon. Finally, the EP’s closer “84′” is a true-school R&B groove laden with Curtis Mayfield styled wah-wah guitar and a brooding falsetto from the man they call Ro, not to mention a cameo from the one and only Snoop Dogg. All in all, its an impressive effort in the third installment of his 4 track EP series and its totally indicative of his ability to navigate a wide-range of soundscapes. Listen to Ro James’ Cadillacs below and check back with the Okay-realm as we’ll have a new single and/or video from the young artist within the next few weeks.
Voodoo & Old Donuts.