The son of late Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango gets a little help from Q-Tip, Idris Elba, Yemi Alade, Little Simz, will.i.am, and others for his new album.
French-Cameroonian musician James BKS has released his debut album, Wolves of Africa (Part 1) via Grown Kid (Polydor). The producer and son of late Cameroonian legend Manu Dibango assembled an impressive band of features, as he creates a sound that pays homage to his multicultural heritage, with the likes of Q-Tip, UK forces Idris Elba and Little Simz, Nigeira's Yemi Alade, and American mogul will.i.am, BKS's Wolves of Africa is a charismatic love letter to the continent.
Still basking in the glory of his hit "New Breed" featuring Idris Elba, British rapper Little Simz, and American rapper Q-Tip, BKS released a second single off of his debut project recently. His song '"Pana Nija," which translates to "Where there is a will, there is a way," features French singer Gracy Hopkins. Nigeria's Yemi Alade and Cameroonian Charlotte Dipanda also offer their talents to the album.
James BKS' Wolves of Africa borrows sounds from across the continent, blending them lovingly with the sharper, more produced sounds of the West. Vibrant Congolese guitar rhythms, South African choir chants, and his love for Cameroon's Bulu and Bikutsi rhythms ring proudly throughout the album, as BKS invites international talents into the justifiably guarded inner world of African sounds.
James BKS's ties to the music world would make one assume he was born draped manuscripts but, oh contraire, mon free. The artist didn't meet his father, Manu Dibango, until 2012. He mentions: "A few years back, when my mom realized I took music seriously and that I was going to end up taking the same path as him without knowing, that's when she told me who my real biological father was. My first reaction was to reject that reality. For reasons I was not aware of at that time he had never been present in my life, I have been raised by my mom and a loving adoptive father who gave me everything and who was my best friend. I thought of protecting him first even though years after he told me it was only right for me to get to know my biological father and that it would never change anything in our relationship."
He continues, "He has had a huge impact and influence on the reason why I decided to step out of the shadow and put together this album. Prior to us reuniting, my only goal in reconnecting with him was to let him know that he had son that was also a musician and that made a name for himself in the music industry. But I got to really know him, we started hanging out, going on tour together, he introduced me to his music family, and allowed me to get acquainted with my roots. He introduced me to his music which was already a fusion of several music genre of its time. I fell in love with his journey, I fell in love with the man behind the saxophone.”
BKS composed "Pana Nija" together with his father, however, it was originally intended for Dibango's last symphonic tour. The result is a compelling gift to the late legend's memory, voice, and kindness. And to continue honoring his father, BKS has created a major space for himself in the music biz. Having produced instrumentals for the likes of Snoop Dogg, Diddy, Ja Rule, and Senegalese-American superstar Akon, James BKS is gunning toward sovereignty.