Idris Elba Launches Record Label 7Wallace Music, Signs French Artist James BKS
"James is a rare find," says Elba. "His hip-hop sensibilities transfer to the other music he makes, he's a nice person to work with and is gonna be a strong artist in the future."
Idris Elba is best known for his television and film roles, but for over a decade the British actor has also been casually making moves in hip-hop and dance music on the mic and behind the decks. And now he's adding record label boss to his growing résumé.
On Tuesday, Elba announced the launch of his new record label called 7Wallace Music and his first signing, James BKS.
James is a French artist whose family is from Cameroon with a background as a hip-hop producer working with Diddy, Talib Kweli and others in the U.S. He now resides in Paris and runs the creative house Grown Kid, which has composed music for Yves Saint-Laurent, Prada and Giorgio Armani commercials and scored French films including La Taularde and Le Gang Des Antillais. Along the way, James developed a connection with his Cameroonian heritage after a chance meeting with his biological father, legendary Afro-jazz saxophonist Manu Dibango, led to a collaboration and a newfound appreciation for African music.
"James is a rare find," Elba tells Billboard. "His hip-hop sensibilities transfer to the other music he makes, he's a nice person to work with and is gonna be a strong artist in the future. It's a huge move for 7Wallace, a small indie label."
James' single "Kwlele" will be released July 13, featuring Dibango, Mai Lan and Allan Kingdom, and synthesizes his influences into a blend of hip-hop, pop and African music, while paying tribute to the Kwele ethnic group of Gabon, Republic of Congo and Cameroon.
"I want people to get to know my journey," adds James in a statement. "The song is the musical answer to my inner questions. Finally I can be proud of my roots and say this music is fully me."
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.