Born in Atlanta, GA, James Hooper is a contemporary R&B/Alternative artist, who started pursuing music at 17 years old. A self-taught dancer, Hooper went on to teach himself how to produce, sing, and later act. In fact, at 20 his first supporting role in the film “A Question of Faith”, which released in theaters nationwide in 2017, was booked via the acting agency, BMG Talent. While James writes, records, and engineers the majority of his records in his own home studio, he also works closely with Ben Hogarth, Jason Derulo’s personal engineer, who mixed and mastered his debut album “My Paradise” (2018). James Hooper has now released his sophomore album, “Elevate”, wholly written, recorded and engineered by himself.
Most R&B heads will fight to put this project in their top listings this year, for the replay factor alone. James Hooper slipped us a 15 track underground classic that is musically dapper and truthful. James’ buttery touch is apparent, as is his storytelling and edgy sophistication.
This project is equal parts confidence and class. I can’t point you towards a truer and more exclusive R&B album released in the few years than Hooper’s second studio album “Elevate”. Anyone listening to this album, would say that James Hooper has come of age. In an artistic sense.
The flow and coherence of this album, in terms of musical styles/instrumentation, as well as vocals and narratives, from start to finish is superb. This is James Hooper’s playground where he chooses, the sounds and words that perfectly suits him. There could never be a more perfect intro for an R&B album than a sexy song.
And that happens with the booming bass, and skittering hi-hats of “Kryptonite”. This is when all the girls want a piece of a potential star on the rise. But he has his sights set on only one. Here, the smooth crooner is at the peak of maturity.
“Beyond The Lights” sticks to a similar thematic, as Hooper shoots his line of confidence: “Everybody knows if I want it, then Ima get it.” Love, passion and living the high life is a constant in Hooper’s mindset, as he lays his game plan down on “Tony Stark”.
The tracks comes fast and furious on “Elevate”, leaving the listener breathless and with no respite, as Hooper slides effortlessly from song to song. This is one of the things that shows me that apart from the notion of bringing back R&B music, James Hooper is keeping up with the new alternative cats as well as the classics.
Amazing is an understatement, as Hooper drops into the keyboard driven rhythm of “No Answer”, and things keep moving up with the cinematic synths on “Sponsored”. Hearing racks like “Don’t Wanna Fall”, “Can’t Speak” and “Let Me Know”, conjured up an array of emotions, that ranged from thrilled to nostalgia.
Notwithstanding Hooper’s affinity with modern alternative R&B, you can’t help but be taken back to the classics. The romantic and sexual circumstances coupled with smooth vocals and luscious beats are consistent with the greats.
What’s missing today is the genuine feel of R&B and while plenty of artists had that in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, today it’s almost all lost in favor of studio embellishments and a whole bunch of features on each track that diverts attention from the storytelling and the main act.
Moving forward through this album we see how James Hooper maintains the modern studio wizardry, has features on only one track – “Push To Start” ft. 2AM Q, K. Lindo & Josiah – and never loses that classic R&B feel. Continuing on to “Clarity”, “Inside” and “Famous” you realize that Hooper has put together one of the best underground albums to represent independent R&B in the new era.