Julian King refuses to be boxed in. In middle school, he turned his attention from being a veterinarian to the arts after participating in a school musical; the performing bug had bitten him squarely. The next stop was the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, with its notable alumni that reads like a who’s who in music: Boyz II Men, Black Thought and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots, Amel Larrieux, and Jazmine Sullivan, among numerous others. His full attention towards music and dance, he graduated and moved on to the University of the Arts, recently graduating and continuing his quest in musicianship, learning to play piano, bass and guitar.
But King is determined to make his mark separate from the city’s rich history in R&B and soul; he’s aiming for pop music success, honing his performing chops to go along with his vocality in hopes of creating a space in the lane between Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake. Those are big names to mention, but one listen to his debut EP, Sing for You, and you get the idea this kid knows where he’s headed. The first releases, “No Strings” and “Unforgettable,” are excellent examples of his vocal ability and the way he’s able to use his voice to paint pictures and express the emotionality of the lyrics—undoubtedly, tricks he picked up from two of his influences, Usher and Stevie Wonder.
He has been working with a production team for nearly four years, cultivating a sound that speaks to who Julian King is and where he’s going. He’s extremely hands on, co-writing all of the songs, using his life as a point of reference. He’s working with highly-touted writers— Grammy-nominated Kristal “Tytewriter” Oliver (P. Diddy, Danity Kane) and Kristofer “César” Murray (Chrisette Michelle, TGT). The production on Sing for You is handled by an all-star cast; Brandon Hodges, a.k.a. BAM, is the man behind most of Tyrese’s Black Rose and the aforementioned “No Strings,” while Bryan-Michael Cox and Ivan Barrias also lend their amazing talent to the project. The talent behind the boards gives a certain level of credibility to the project, but King’s direction creates a sound many may not expect from this group.
“If you asked me four years ago what my first project would sound like, I wouldn’t have dreamed of it sounding like this,” King told me, which is a testament to his growth as an artist, but also his willingness to make music that doesn’t necessarily fit in the narrow confines of genre or category. He’s off and running, already having performed at New York’s SOB’s this summer, along with a special EP release performance at Philadelphia’s Pub Webb Live and the recent premiere of the “No Strings” video. It’s this work ethic, in addition to his talent, that pushed Jerome Hipps and Mike McArthur to sign him to their Mama’s Boys Entertainment Group. The noticed something special in the young man, that may have been obscured if he wasn’t bold enough to audition for the school music about a decade ago.
Sing for You is available via King’s Soundcloud and you can get connected via his social media outlets, which are all @itsjulianking.
Between rhetoric and reality is where you’ll find Al-Lateef Farmer; Black man, husband, social documentarian, and slinger of Soul by the pound. His brand of social commentary, rooted in independent thought can be found at www.theworldaccording2teef.com and on Twitter @wrldacrdng2teef.