Harald Krichel

Idris Elba Announces New Label, Releases First Song “Kwele”

A popular British actor, also known for producing hip-hop and EDM is taking on a new role: Record label management. Idris Elba is taking the next step in his career by announcing his new record label. He announced the name of the label on July 3rd, 7Wallace Music, and their first signing, James BKS.

James is a French hip-hop artist known for his work with big names like Diddy and Talib Kweli. His Cameroonian heritage connects him to his father, the legendary saxophonist Manu Dibango. James’ coincidental meeting with his father allowed him to connect with his heritage and became more inspired by African music.

The label has had smaller releases before, but their first long-term artist addition signals a proper launch. Elba couldn’t be happier with James either, telling Billboard that the artist is a “rare find.”

“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’ first single Kwele is due for release July 13, featuring Allan Kingdom and his father Dibango. The single will combine elements of hip-hop and African music as a homage to his heritage. James admits in a statement that the intention of the song is for people to know more about his journey.

“The song is the musical answer to my inner questions,” says James. “Finally I can be proud of my roots and say this music is fully me.”

What can we expect to see from 7Wallace Music and its artists?

The label itself 7Wallace does not lack experience. As mentioned before, it has some smaller releases, mostly under Elba’s name. Their SoundCloud is full of tracks and remixes ranging from upbeat club mixes to emotionally invoking vocals. It’s described as “the official place for my main music projects.”

A look at James BKS’ soundcloud shows only one rap track, but it’s not without quality. It shows the artist and composer has a respectable talent to take seriously. The track titled JE DOIS PARTIR combines his hip-hop prowess, with Talib Kweli’s engaging spirit and Ben L’oncle Soul’s soulful voice.

What we’ll see from the fledgling label remains a mystery. However, if it’s anything like a combination of modern 7Wallace and James’ work, we can expect good things. Not often do we find an inspiring indie label with strong African roots they’re willing to celebrate.

Their first track Kwele released today, with a music video to go along with it. This upbeat track fires off strong and inspiring beats. Featuring African dancers dressed in traditional garb, the video pairs the song’s tribal beats and vocals with Afro-jazz saxaphone. A strong theme of self-discovery and African celebration is present, but don’t take our word for it. Watch it below, or stream it on Spotify!

Did you enjoy James BKS’ new track? What other artists do you think would be a good fit for the label? Let us know in the comments!