Revisiting Ro, Riding In His New ‘Eldorado’

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Ro James | Eldorado album art by Sarah McColgan c/o RCA | additional editing by Brad

 

Ro James, the first artist signed to a major recording label to trust and allow me to put my cameras in his face for a shoot as a documentarian, just dropped his debut album Eldorado through RCA. It’s a smooth ride that shifts into several lanes, thoughts and feelings—alternative soul, Hip-Hop, lust, religion, guilt, regret—while staying tethered to R&B and releasing much weed smoke from its exhaust pipe.

The album ends with the title cut, which is my favorite on the set. It’s an unhappy conclusion, where he sings about riding around in his dream car without his dream girl. I have this weird thing about me that sometimes appreciates movies and stories that aren’t wrapped up in a pretty little bow when they’re finished. In this case, Eldorado leaves me looking forward to Ro’s next album. There, I’m assuming, we’ll learn if he gets a new car and cute company to sit shotgun.

Our shoot was about a year ago. I wanted to revisit i am: Ro James for y’all to get an idea of who Ro is and, as you listen to Eldorado, to see where he’s going.

I’m super happy for Ro. To be frank, he’s on a label that’s already stacked with R&B-based stars. Usher, Chris Brown, Miguel, D’Angelo and R. Kelly are all on RCA. Getting record execs to make you a priority while those guys are rocking is a feat in and of itself. Not only did he do that, but he put out a dope album and now he’s on tour with another iconic panty-catcher: Maxwell.

The way I see it, Ro’s tank is full. And he’s got plenty road ahead of him.

Follow Ro James on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Ed note: The actual cover art for Eldorado looks like the image in that “GA$” YouTube clip up there. But I think my new shit is to mess around with art just to shake things up and beat the monotony of posting the exact images everyone else uses. No disrespect to the original photo. Sarah McColgan killed it. Just trying to switch things up. 

Bernard Flowers: The Escape

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Bernard Flowers | Photo c/o Epic Records | watch The Escape below

 

Spaghetti and fried fish.

That’s what Bernard Flowers’ grandmother cooked several Fridays ago when I visited her Memphis home. At the end of each week, her family rolls through deep. At least 10 of them. The elder ones hang out in the kitchen with Granny, catching each other up on the latest. The children goof around in the living room, only pausing to watch Alvin and the Chipmunks on the television.

I was there to shoot Flowers for a two-part short for his label Epic. He comes from a great home. One so good to me that the cook wouldn’t allow me to hang off to the side like an outsider. No, I had to get a plate. And how could I resist? When a sweet old lady tells you to eat, grabs your hand and guides you to a full pot of pasta and piles of fish sitting on a paper towel blanket damp with grease, it’s go time.

Epic Records’ New R&B Act Bernard Flowers Talks Wooing L.A. Reid, Debuts ‘The Escape’ Documentary: Exclusive

Now contrast that with the sit-down interview I had with Bernard maybe an hour or two prior to dinner. We talked about worries I wouldn’t  imagine someone that comes from a “good home” would have. How could someone that’s had two involved parents (and three older siblings), proper schooling and a warm place to sleep and at night for all of his 23 years have some of the same fears as people that grew up with far less?

“When I’m in the studio, I don’t have to worry about watching my back or anybody trying to take anything from me. When my partners are with me, I don’t have to worry about anybody trying to kill them or trying to hurt them. I’m another person.”

– Bernard Flowers

As you’ll learn in The Escape, even when you have a strong support system within your four walls, stepping outside in Memphis leaves you open to outside problems. Flowers believes that, without music to save him, he would have ended up dead or in jail. The studio was and continues to be his safe haven.

I wrote a companion piece for Billboard, who premiered both parts of The Escape. So I’m not going to overwrite here.

 

What I will say is I enjoyed my time in Tennessee with Bernard, his friends and family. With that crew, his talent and Epic backing him, he’s got a good chance at making it as far as he wants.

Oh, and the spaghetti and fish combo was bomb. I hope you enjoy these vids I shot and edited like I did Grandma’s fixings.

You can find Bernard on Twitter, listen to his music here, and check him out on the ‘Gram there.

Jenna’s Sony Takeover

Last week I was commissioned by Sony/ATV Music Publishing to shoot Jenna Andrews. For those that don’t recall, I’ve shot her for HTS before. The difference this go-’round is that they didn’t need a full-on profile piece. Rather, they needed content for an Instagram takeover. Essentially, I hung out with her for a bit and put together several 15-second clips that helped introduce Sony/ATV followers to their new singer-songwriter.

“What’s your advice for people that want to follow your path?” “What are things that are  important to you as a writer?” Those are some of the questions we answered with the vids.

And it was a fun time. I was a fly on the wall while she wrote with other artists and even caught some of her goofier moments. Check out two of the clips. The first (up top) is the intro that went up on Monday (Feb. 1). The second is the blooper reel that closed out the series with some laughs.

All of the content was posted both on Sony/ATV and Jenna’s Instagram accounts. They’re happy costumers. It was a good gig. Mission accomplished.