Revisiting Ro, Riding In His New ‘Eldorado’

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. 

Profiles: Ro James

All images shot by Joao Gonzalez.

The son of a military man probably knows a thing or two about routines. Proving the idea so, here is Ro James deep in Brooklyn, New York getting his set in order at Brooklyn 1834, a creative clubhouse of sorts where a fully functional rehearsal space—jumbo speakers, drums, keyboards, guitars, the whole shebang—crank in a room just steps away from the kitchen table.

Ro’s cooking, wailing lines from “Indiana Jones,” one of several fan-favorites from his 2013 trilogy EPs Coke, Jack, and Cadillacs. On the eve of his concert with buddy and fellow R&B singer Luke James (no relation) at Manhattan’s Highline Ballroom, Ro spends as much time still and quiet as he does singing, listening to his band work themselves into their groove and figuring out where his rugged voice fits in.

After ironing out a few kinks, the crew takes a break. Ro nestles next to a window with sunlight beaming through. This February afternoon is frigid, just hours removed from the city’s latest snow storm. Ro’s gotten warm from singing. Now his mission is to remain so. Though he calls New York home, he clearly could go for a trip to balmy Hawaii or California—both places he’s spent considerable time in the past.

“You see me over here dying with all these layers?” he jokes. “I got, like, three more under this [sweater]. Fuck that.”  Once settled, Ro gets to talking about his unpolished style, how a cocktail of love, sex and women inspire his music and what to expect from his debut album with RCA Records.

Watch the video below for that and performance footage from rehearsal:

Follow Ro James on Twitter and Instagram.

All pictures shot by Joao Gonzalez at Brooklyn 1834 on Feb. 24, 2015