Photos by Lawrence Agyei
Noisey almost feels foolish for not including The GTW in our This Modern Love series sooner: the Chicago-based crooner has a miraculous gift to make songs that work as both baby-making jamz and introspective, post-break up heartwrenchers.
The GTW, née James King, has been releasing a handful of addicting R&B tunes over the past year both under his own moniker, as well as with Chi-town collective, JODY. The music is characterized by smooth-as-Lubriderm choruses and lush, amniotic production, often with help from duo (and fellow Chicagoans), The-Drum.
"Bleach Pool," for example, is a twinkling, So So Def Bass-inspired groove with an undercurrent of bleakness (as the title nods to). The GTW can simultaneously break your heart and get you ready to whip out Trojans—it all depends on who you're listening with, and where.
Last week saw the premiere of "Calling Cards," another up-beat-yet-harrowing song that will appear on his upcoming album, Chigeria. The hook repeats the line "I can't spell my future without you." Maybe call this up-bleak R&B. Regardless, we've been listening non-stop since it dropped.
Since The GTW is so good at making us both sad and horny, we asked him to fill out this profile shamelessly cribbed from OkCupid. Don't get too excited, though. Even though he filled out the dating site questionnaire, we're pretty sure he has a bae back home who's inspiring his ever-silky music.
James Akaninyene King/24/Straight
I'm 6"2, funny, loving and with a sexy chipped tooth smile. I once thought about starting a website called blackemochat.com for African-American locals in Chicago with my home girl. It never panned out though.
What I’m doing with my life:
Well currently I'm in my mother's basement until April working on my album. Pretty sure most girls now-a-days would consider that a success story.
I’m really good at:Coming up with melodies in subways and showers. I wrote half the lyrics to my album in either a subway or tub. But back to my looks, I think I'm somewhat good at being cute, like this kind of cute.
The first things people usually notice about me:
My chipped tooth. I chipped it as an 11-year-old kid running on a treadmill at its highest speed. I got it capped up at the dentist and recently chipped it chewing into laffy taffy. ~ . ~
Bible KJV (you version app), No Easy Walk To Freedom "Nelson Mandela / Oliver Tambo Bio," Killing Kennedy by Bill Oreilly, Who's Who In The World 2001--my mum was in the book that year. ^ . ^
Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, Paul Ryan.
Mr. IBU parts 1-6 (a Nollywood movie), Beyonce & Rihanna parts 1-4 (another Nollywood movie), Think Like A Man, Clueless.
Favorite TV shows:
Little Bear, Hannity, The Kelly File, Love & Hip Hop: NY (second and fourth season), L&HH: ATL (third season), Blue Collar Comedy Hour, King of the Hill, Duck Dynasty. Also, whatever's on Life Time or Logo. And any Steve Harvey stand-up.
Solange, Hugh Masekela, K Michelle, Kuhrye-oo, Jeremiah Meece, DJ Spoko, Jahit Jamm (Strawberry Jamm Records), Rihanna, Lorde, Michael "Dos Santos" Tousana, Petite Noir, Rochelle Jordan, Dunjun,... Just a few peeps I'm listening to hard right now.
Well as of two months ago it was Popeyes. They had this 2 for $2.99 deal with side sale every Tuesday. But today I'm eating anything out of Aldi, which is like a Chicago grocery chain that owns Trader Joes. Their prices are really good, inexpensive groceries taste so much better when you know you're not hurting your pocket. Sometimes I'll snag some flour, okra, some spices and greens to make tradition melon soup with fufu. Or I'll just snag a box of wings and make caramel chicken & broccoli. Gourmet, healthy.
The Six things I could never do without:
1. God (we talk every day, He understands how much of a screw up I am sometimes, but he always pulls me through).
2. My family and friends.
3. This J-Cush mix on Soundcloud I need to play it to workout every morning).
5. My manager Melanie and the awesome folk I'm working with right now. Their belief really means a lot to me.
6. Black Twitter/Instagram during major national events.
I spend a lot of time thinking about:
When I'd be fortunate enough to attend the Grammy's.
The most private thing I’m willing to admit:
I haven't listened to Yeezus in it's entirety yet. I'm afraid if I do, I'll be OD hooked.
On a typical Friday night I am:
At church with mum, then out on the scene (my bedroom) with Netflix.
Zach says all the right things and he's on Twitter - @zachsokol.