James The Prophet Shares New Single Featuring Chester Watson

Rising 20-year-old French-American rapper James The Prophet dropped another fresh slice of introspective lo-fi hip hop, this time joining forces with Chester Watson (Nü Age Syndicate) on “Tobago.” James explains, “I decided to call the track Tobago because I have amazing childhood memories of the white sand beaches and overall vibe of this small, relatively untouched Caribbean island. Chester and I both discuss dreams of traveling. I also touch on the subject of global warming and how it’s being handled by politicians (‘cop 26 and they can’t find a fix, fly in, fly out and post a couple of pics’).” The new single + video comes hot on the heels of his collab with UK rapper Lord Apex for “Sentinel” and jazz-funk banger “Power On,” taken from James’ upcoming debut album Unimaginable Storms, out July 9 via Sony Music / Rupture. The album also includes Trumpism protest song “G.O.P” (half a million views) featuring French platinum artist Kalash Criminel, “Get it Right” and “The Truth.”

James was recently contacted by the French Embassy in Houston, TX to record a performance and conversation with the platinum rapper Bun B, which aired on June 21 for Fête de la musique, France’s World Music Day here. Bringing socially conscious and sensitive rap to the forefront in a way only he can is what has James The Prophet blowing up in France – hip hop’s second biggest market. Following last year’s We Love Green festival with Young Thug, Lana Del Rey & Bad Bunny, he’ll be opening up for hip hop legend Mos Def soon. James’ early freestyle went viral after being shared by the country’s biggest rapper Booba. He went on to share stages with all-timers like The Pharcyde, appearing on France 24, Vanity FairGQ and beyond. James’ triple UK, US & French citizenship has given him a foot in all three cultures, though he raps in English thanks to his affinity for East Coast boom bap of idols Nas and Biggie – along with old school hip hop, jazz, soul & funk influences. Unimaginable Storms follows his Bedroom Sessions during the pandemic, benefitting the Paris Hospitals Foundation. 
Amidst a backdrop of richly colored beats blending jazz, soul, funk, and old school hip hop, this new album is eclectic, but unswerving in its consistency – holding 10 tracks on which James graciously slows the torrent of demons and visions. The title is a nod to the fact that beyond what may be apparent visibly, everyone is dealing with their private crises. James explains, “‘Unimaginable Storms’ represents the idea you could be six feet away from someone and have no idea what they’re going through. When I was 15 and 16 I started having really bad panic attacks and missed a lot of school, and when I explained it to my teachers a lot of them were really surprised because I didn’t give off that impression when I was with them.” 
In a genre that can be driven so much by ego, James’ more reflective bars are what sets him apart. “It’s important to be real. My sensitivity is my strength,” he says. Unimaginable Storms is a paradoxical album — at once visceral and inviting, silky-smooth and barbed, amorous and anxious, melancholy and spirited, cool and gloomy, discreet and sometimes exposed. In 2018, James was a promise, a future conjugated in the present tense, the kid no one saw coming who had what it takes to break the status quo: the petty habits of a rap scene fast-gentrifying. With Summer Archives, his first mixtape for Rupture, James The Prophet dug deep, probing his guts and thoughts in an act of explosive intimacy. Maybe James wasn’t yet a prophet in his country, but his name started to circulate. The follow-up, Unimaginable Storms is here, bringing with it the hint of a new generational voice in the global hip hop world. 

Photo Courtesy: Marie Flament