VOICES OF BOSTON: Latrell James
Updated: May 5, 2019
Dorchester Native Latrell James has been an impactful figure within the Boston music scene. Beginning with his critically acclaimed debut album 'Twelve' where he established his brand of Conscientious Rap, he has since gone on to win Song Of The Year at the Boston Music Awards and collaborate with Dreamville. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Latrell and discussed his beginnings, inspiration as well as his latest projects.
Were you always musically inclined or did the art enter your life randomly?
I did not know I was going to make music but always had an affinity towards it. From old video game melodies to trying to beatbox drums to the Rugrats Theme song. When I discovered FL Studio everything changed for me.
Who were some creatives that you looked up to early on in your journey? Any Boston artists from back in the day (i.e. Prince Charles and the City Beat Band, etc)
Absolutely, my parents put me onto to all the legends before me. New Edition by far made the biggest impact. Edo G is another. My mother used to play “I Got To Have It “every day on the weekends. But now I just look at my peers for inspiration. I feel like we are going to take it to a level it has not reached before.
What has your routine been like day to day? Or does it vary?
Workout, eat, make beats, record and watch sports. Some days it changes because of shows, shoots, and travel but that's pretty routine for me on a day to day basis.
Have you ever taught or mentored younger musicians, and if so what were a couple takeaways from that experience?
Still mentoring to this moment. Honestly, the best decision I ever made was not only being a mentor but seeking mentorship. You get to help people solve issues you may have faced in the past. It's always great when you can give someone a direct map on how to get to their goals. My Biggest takeaway is youth are way more creative than adults, hang around more youth.
You have done a great job of speaking to many issues facing minority populations in urban centers like Boston songs like your latest release “Tracphone” - what made you feel a responsibility to tackle these issues?
We all have a community responsibility to look after one another. My job is to leave whatever the “scene” is here in a better place than when I found it. Making songs that shed light on blatant disparities and making it cool was the goal. I never want to come off too preachy but times like these need a strong voice and leadership here in Boston. I’ll happily fall into that role.
Do you feel that’s what draws your fan base to you in an era of hyper-commercialism?
100% My fans trust me to be honest at all times. Nothing more, nothing less. Commercialism is a double edge sword to me, we all want the financials from it but we also want longevity.
Is your music is the lifeblood of a movement to awaken people to the issues we neglect and where we need to be headed?
Nah, I just try to stay transparent in my music. I don’t want anyone to expect me to be a certain way because I am human. I’m ignorant and witty. I’m imperfect knowing that perfection does not exist. I see myself as being a mirror, I shed light on things that already there that people refuse to see until they look closer.
You performed at Lawrence academy yesterday - how did that go? What moved you to perform there?
Lawrence Academy is a special school. Everybody should perform there once. Those youth there gave me one of my favorite shows this year. So much energy! Honestly, the youth requested me there. I am fortunate. But I always hope that I can inspire the next great rapper or producer when I get to schools like that. I try to be a resource because I know what it is like to not have any.
How was the experience working with Dreamville and the slew of great creators at the camp?
One word CRAZY. The most important thing I took from that was just watching how people work and create. I was there to contribute but I was also very happy just to be a fly on the wall at times.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
EP in June, more shows, and world domination.
This Is For Boston.