Known Unknown: Get Familiar With Billboard Charting Indie Singer James “Trakz” Wade

The music industry is a rough, tricky business, emphasis on the word business. There are a ton of moving parts. Although there are prominent examples of indie artists making their way to the top without major label intervention at some point, it is rare; Mac Miller and Logic are a few names that come to mind, although those even observations could be dicey — as Rapbooth described some time ago. That’s what makes a case like James “Trakz” Wade so unusual. A relatively unknown R&B singer from Franklin County, Virginia, he’s on the come up in a major way. Look, accolades and numbers speak volumes; Trakz isn’t just blowing smoke, he charting!

His breezy debut single, “You Are The One” is laced with a sonic aura that takes us back to the sound that dominated the airwaves in the late 90s and early 2000s. You know, that sound reminiscent of Craig David’s smash “Fill Me In” and young Mario’s reboot of “Just A Friend.” It sounds like a hit — and that sentiment is certainly supported by it’s early entrance onto the Billboard charts, making him one of the first fully indie artists to do so with an unknown first single; alongside names like Janet Jackson none the less. Also, he plays his own instruments.

With such a huge co-sign — and achievement — so early on in his career, it’s a safe bet that he’s headed in the right direction. Currently on the grind promoting his new single “Lotus,” he recently sat down for a chat with AAHH about his music, his goals, and what we can look out for next.

Don’t sleep on Trakz — with about 30 bangers in the canon, he’s about to blow!

So Trakz, tell me about your music — describe your sound.

Music is so non-linear today, and because of that I always try to incorporate sounds from other genres into my music — even though I’m an R&B singer. My music would be considered Contemporary R&B with an old school vibe to it.

How did you get involved in music?
I got into music mainly because of my grandfather who used to be a gospel singer/guitar player in his younger days. He allowed me to borrow his guitar as a kid and practice on my own.

Who/what were some of your influences?

I’m always inspired by artists/bands that play their instruments. Prince, Marvin Gaye, and The Beatles are my big three. Ritchie Valens [“La Bamba”] is another big inspiration for me. The movie “La Bamba” along with “Purple Rain” and “The Five Heartbeats” really motivated me to want to pursue a career in the industry.

What have you released so far?

Currently, I have my two singles “You Are The One” and “Lotus” available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and iHeart Radio to name a few.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve got close to 30 songs I haven’t released, which were going to be used for my album. At this point, my primary focus is promoting “Lotus,” including a music video and a remix featuring a more established artist in the industry.

What have been some of your biggest achievements thus far?

I entered the Billboard charts in May for my first single “You Are The One” alongside Tyrese and Janet Jackson. I am the first independent Artist ever to impact Urban AC/Urban and Rhythmic Radio with an unknown song and fresh career. Finally, according to DRT (Digital Radio Tracker), I’m at #90 in the Top 200 Independently charts nationally.

What are your goals at the end of the day?

My goals in the industry are to — first and foremost — make music that can be enjoyed decades from now. Secondly, I want my talent as a one-man studio to be recognized and respected. I lace the beat, play the instruments, sing the vocals/background vocals, then I engineer and master the song myself.

Riley About Author

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns