*Born and raised in the New York area, Giovanni James never met his Italian father, and his mother worked as a sex worker. When he turned 13-years-old, she experienced the onset of schizophrenia and moved to Southern California.
James would briefly accompany his mom before returning back east shortly after to navigate the streets of New York on his own.
“She allowed me to go back,” he says. “I thank her for it. I was alone on the streets, and the world became my teacher. It was when my character was the most tested. I had to survive on my own. I saw a lot of things that kids shouldn’t see. That made me who I am.”
Giovanni also sees the song as the battle-cry for the self-medicating. “Sheri is the savior for suppressed emotions and pain,” James tells Billboard.
“We all wear a social mask for the sake of getting along, but deep down for a lot of us there is damage. In the song, alcohol is the truth serum and Sheri could be that friend, significant other or booty call etc. that will always take you in. Sheri doesn’t judge you for whatever got you into the latest stupor”
“Sheri” is the second video from his “Whutcha Want EP” which will be available on March 25th. It continues James’ hands-on approach to his artistry and follows the self-produced/directed visual for his hip-hop and rockabilly inspired song “Shame On You.”
As fans sought for more, his raucous “freedom cry” title-track “Whutcha Want” entered into the Top 10 on Spotify’s US and Global Viral 50 charts
Giovanni James is jack of all trades: he sings, raps, dances, produces, slings a guitar, plays keyboards, and even does magic.
A chess-loving aesthete with a clothing/art collection named Butcher James, his style and music go-hand-in-hand, equally nodding to Turner Classic Movies, James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Montgomery Clift as well as Sam Cooke, Jimi Hendrix, and Otis Redding.
In 2007, he co-founded 21st century vaudevillian trio The Harlem James Gang. Combining music, dance, magic, and more, the trio became in-demand worldwide amongst an elite audience, performing private shows for the likes of Madonna.
They even landed on the cover of The New York Times style section with Giovanni receiving a comparison to Alexander McQueen. In 2011, his vision for combining the performing arts world with the stage would take root.
He would spend the next two years locked in a Harlem studio diligently working on his craft and sound-in between nights DJ-ing high-profile parties throughout the boroughs. The dynamic performer’s upcoming EP chronicles this journey and is an extension of his mojo.
“In my life, I’ve personally battled people trying to dress me up with their ideas of who I am. This EP is me though. I’m alive.”
Warner Bros. Records