Five questions: Enrico James

Sophomore EP ‘BeautiFULLY BROKEN’ speaks to hard times and perseverance

Enrico James
Overbrook native and solo artist Enrico James’ new project looks at hard times and his sorrow following the loss of his mother. Image courtesy: Enrico James

Philly’s Enrico James is releasing his new project, “BeautiFULLY BROKEN,” five years after his debut EP.

In his new work, he speaks about hard times during a breakup and losing his mother in 2017. He said the title was chosen to give the impression that, although we may all be broken inside, we are still beautiful to persevere in life. 

PW recently caught up with James to talk about his career and new music.

Talk a little about your start in music. Where did it all begin and what were your early influences? 

I began creating music after I discovered hip-hop as a child. My realization that I wanted to create came through the expression of the art form. The music was so powerful and influential on others, and it was relatable. 

It was around the time when I was roughly 11 years old; my father’s friend found a Warren G/Nate Dogg “Regulators” cassette tape at the Papa Playground in West Philly. It was initially given to my sister, then it was passed along to me. 

My influences stem from my early childhood. My mother and father split up when I was 5 years old. I was dealing with their issues, while also traveling back and forth to each home, and trying to focus on school. The people around me and the everyday toll of life played a major role in my influences as well. 

Your new project, “BeautiFULLY BROKEN,” is about to be released. How did it come together? What’s the finished product like?

The title for the project came about two years prior to release. One day while I was scrolling through my camera roll, I noticed a photo of my face staring out of a window. I decided to open up an app and use a “shatter effect” on my face. I took a moment to stare at the photo and looked into my eyes and realized how broken such a beautiful soul could be on the inside; crying out. 

I like to believe it also shows growth through adversity. It’s like a comeback story for the scars. They show the wounds that you continue to heal from during life.

“Behind the scenes for the “Candle in the Dark” music video shoot, the sophomore album from Enrico James. | Image courtesy: Christian Smith”

How has living in Philly impacted your music? Are there any local musicians who made a special impression on you?

Throughout my youth, I would travel back and forth from Overbrook (West Philly) to Folcroft (Delaware County) to attend elementary school. I was primarily living with my mother and step-father in Folcroft. I would still have my father pick me up to stay the night at his home frequently throughout the week. 

My family being from West Philly, I heard so many stories about the historical moments that took place in the music scene, as well as legendary boxers and other athletes. My father would usually listen to Motown. Philly groups like The Stylistics, Jill Scott, Boyz II Men, The Roots, Will Smith, Teddy Pendergrass, Hall & Oates, Joe Frazier, Kobe Bryant, and many more had such an impact on the city of Brotherly Love. Allen Iverson was a hero to all of us kids growing up!

I have to give respect to my local peers, such as, No Love For The Middle Child, Zero, Jahlil Beats, Mont Brown, Moosh & Twist, West Philly product “mr. NICETHINGS” himself Chill Moody, and of course the captain, Meek Mill. 

How can fans stay up-to-date with what you have going on and find your music?

The easiest way to stay up to date with what I have planned for the future would be my website EnricoJames.com. Also, my social media handles are all @EnricoJames. 

What’s ahead for you? Where do you see yourself and your musical career five years from now? 

I am continuing to work on new content while I grow as an artist each day. I think my next goal would be to put out a full-length album, which I may title “Childhood.” I want to build more with the people who had a hand in “BeautiFULLY BROKEN,” such as Christian, Elijah, Mike, Tonya and Angel. My mother’s favorite number was five due to having five children. It was a blessing to notice five of my close friends played a role in putting the project together. 

The plan and goal with my music has always been the same since I was a kid; I want to connect with others who may relate to my experiences and feelings. I’ve always had a deep admiration for seeing others smile and be happy. 

Lastly, and most important of all, to be true to myself, be kind, and keep the faith. In honor of my mother, I have also decided to make the physical copy of the EP and the rest of the new merchandise on the website available for $5! It’s just another way of putting a smile on her face. 

  • Eugene Zenyatta was raised on old-time Memphis 'rasslin' and strongly prefers the company of dogs to people. His greatest heartbreak came in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic.