In the midst of a crazy world, I found great solace in the cool, calm, and collected demeanor of the dynamic, soulful, and sultry Luke James. Donning underwear as his quarantine outfit of choice while jamming Miles Davis throughout his home sets the mood for what I envisioned was the vibe on the other side of the phone line during our pandemic style interview. For nearly an hour I was able to pick his Gemini brain about a number of topics from the state of the world, new music, points of inspiration, and, of course, love. Not many artists remain as open and humble, but Luke is definitely one to express what it is he is feeling no holds barred. 


Many people were first introduced to the soulful sound of Luke James during a time when he was one-half of the duo “Luke and Q”. Luke and Quinton remain friends to this day, giving us a glimpse of the loyalty the star maintains on his journey to success in the cutthroat music business. “We’re family. That’s my brother. We went to high school and all that, we’re family. The business shit is just the business shit, and that’s that. At the core, we are family.” 


Since his days in Luke and Q, Luke has encountered some awesome success from topping the charts to opening up for Beyoncé! It’s safe to say the “I Want You” singer is making the dreams of his childhood a reality. It seems that he is finally manifesting his visions back in New Orleans as a child growing up. Black Boy Joy at it’s finest! Such success makes him a part of the R&B landscape at some of the highest levels, which comes with a certain expectation. R&B has a sound that has been typically uniform for the past few decades, but the sound of the genre today seems to integrate many elements of Hip Hop. 


“ That shit only happened because niggas started fucking complaining that ‘a nigga sing too good’ and ‘they can't appreciate that kind of singing.’ The nigga who could sing or could possibly grow to be a good singer or whatever, let that shit get into their mind and they started trying to be different and rap sing and mix it all to-fucking-gether and act like “Oh well I don’t really like music.” You know what I’m saying? It makes them feel special or something because they can do music. They do like music. They don’t sing well because they think that rap-sing shit is cool. That is how the shit evolves.” 


The evolution of sound happens often, but the lack of desire for pure talent is enough to drive any artist who loves their craft up a wall. With that, Luke also understands the way art manifests itself is not always fluid or familiar. 

“You listen to other records and you’re like some records are smash hits because certain people have a tone, or a sound. They have their thing they’re doing. Then someone else hears that and it evolves while others try to bite it a little bit. Then there are people in the business who will convince you to hold back and not fully sing. That just hurts a motherfucker who really can sing. It goes back to the fact that there are motherfuckers out here singing they ass off. You just got to dig, man. And you just got to be open to everyone's expression at the end of the day. Motherfuckers out here singing some good shit, I think.” {Luke James}

And with that there is no surprise that Luke doesn’t understand the concept of deciding who is the current “King of R&B”. When asked to choose a king, Luke stated, “I don’t know what that is. Shit, I know people who listen to Jack East and I know people who don’t. It doesn’t hurt or doesn’t matter. None of that matters.” 

Joey wears Yves Saint Laurent Jacket, Tank top: 2xist, Pants: Marcell Von Berlin

During such a historic era in the world, there is a shift in energy and we are all feeling the eerie effects of solitude and separation. For many, that seems like the breeding ground for stifled creativity, but James is using this time to fuel his creative passion and prepare for the reemergence a post-COVID world will present. He recently released a new project To Feel Loved inspired by the desire to not only feel loved, but the yearning to give love, too. 


“Inspiration, for me, just happens. As I’m writing whatever mood I’m in I tend to lean towards that and express that subconsciously and naturally. I never really know what it is I want to write till I start. I read it. As I read it, I understand I’m actually talking about something present, something from the past. Something from the future maybe, I don’t know.”


One of the hardest things for a label and artist to accomplish is plotting how a project will make it to the masses. Add an international quarantine and the storm waters begin to rage at the shores of success. Luke James is unbothered as he feels art, specifically music, has a way of naturally making its way around. 


“Music will find people. I don’t find it really cool to force-feed music. I have the approach of, “Hey, I have music, would you like to hear it?” Rather than, “Yo, I got music, listen to this, listen to this, listen to this.” So, as the album was released, I did a tour leading up to Valentine's Day, kind of like a Valentine's Day tour. The album came out at the same time. And I finished that tour at the Troubadour in LA. Sold out - Beautiful crowd. Then I jumped into the film side and had to shoot some things, then quarantine happened. So, here I am. Music is out, it's doing well right now. Streams are real for everyone right now. My plans are just to let music live out there as I create more and do other things.”


You may have seen Luke off the stage and outside the booth on your TV screens. From being seen on HBO’s Insecure to Marsai Martin’s film project Big, Luke James is making his strides. He’s absolutely thrilled to be working alongside the black female tastemakers who are setting the tone for the industry right now. 


“I’m honored. You know I’m not trying to gas it; there ain’t no cap. To be fair, I'm really blessed to be where I'm at and to have the life that I’ve had. In short, these experiences have just been gnarly. I mean to be a part of such  projects with these women- these young women, young ladies-”, he stated before I warned him to tread lightly as we shared a hearty laugh at him trying to find the right way to clean that up. 

Most notably, Luke James had a sexy dance scene in Big that left many lusting after the star for his smooth chocolate complexion and his amazing body. “I wasn’t nervous about it, I just lived in it. I just let it flow you know. I just let it flow like water. We got that scene in about 10 takes! It was a lot, but I was grateful to do a lot of them because you just want to give them as much as you can. If they want to give you six takes, fuck it, six takes it is, but in those six takes you gotta give them your all. When they edit it, they give the audience the best shit because you gave your all in each take.” If that’s what giving your all looks like, then we like to see it. 


Talking with Luke is refreshing because he is not big on himself, but his contribution to the spaces he gets to enter. I made the comment that onstage he gets to entertain a certain level of escapism by being Luke ‘the artist’ and not just Luke Boyd ‘the man’, or simply his mother’s son. Then he let me know how he still can feels like nothing more than his mother’s son on a stage: 


Top: Gucci, Sweater: Thom Browne, Jeans: Gucci, Sneakers: Versace 



“I’m my mother’s son at the core. My life would be so different without her. She could’ve been a different type of mom or another kind of woman. She could’ve let her life before having me affect her in the way she loves me, accept me and nourished me and provided for me. I could be a different person. I could possibly still make it here talking to you, but maybe I would be a different human being. I think the reason I’m on that stage is because my mother did what she did for me, so it’s always a part of me anywhere I am. I'm living my dream because somebody said, “You could”, and my mom was the first person to say that.” 


Luke James has a voice that has graced not only his own projects, but the work of many other talented artists we cherish and adore. He’s featured on Chris Brown’s Take You Down, some tracks on Tank’s Sex, Love, and Pain album, and even Goin’ Downtown from Dreamgirls! Luke’s voice has been the bridge of some of our faves for quite a while. 


Luke James is a man of many talents and is making an impact on the business. With a love for old Spike Lee Joints, a strong appreciation of the fashion of the 70s, and a zest to be better than the day before, there is a lot to take away from his artistry and eclectic style. The charm and wit of Luke James is evident and felt even through the phone. In this business, there are not too many people who you meet and feel enamored by, but Luke’s effervescent personality draws you in and his humility keeps you wanting to support his endeavors as he goes and grows. How can you not stan an artist who is self-aware, confident, and ambitious? And, yes, ladies, he is indeed still single. 


You can support Luke James by streaming and downloading his latest project, “To Feel Loved”, currently available everywhere. You can also find him in season 3 of “The Chi” as he expands his multi-hyphenate resume to include acting in conjunction with his singing accolades. This is a career expansion worth watching as African Americans are presented with more and more opportunities in the world of entertainment.  


“Life is beautiful, and I’m on top of the mountain. You know what I mean? Really, I mean, think of a person being as grateful as they possibly can be, right? Just like truly grateful. So grateful that you look at them and say, “Damn, man. Wow! This is true happiness. That’s me and how I feel about it right now. It’s a beautiful feeling to be able to do what I want to do, to challenge myself, and constantly grow. Simply being received is such a blessing and I can’t complain at all.” {Luke James}

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