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The son of a military veteran, Ronnie James Tucker was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and spent portions of his early life in New York, Indiana, Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Texas. While living in Indianapolis, he went through a major breakup, which prompted him to write and record a song in response. Though he had played drums as early as the age of nine, he previously had no inclination to be involved with music. Friends pushed James forward, and by the end of 2013, the fledgling artist had self-released three four-song EPs of vulnerable but assured R&B, namely Coke, Jack, and Cadillacs. Asher Roth and Snoop Dogg each made a guest appearance in the series.
James signed with RCA, where he made his major-label debut with "Permission," a collaboration with Soundz and Verse Simmonds, in 2015. The following May, shortly after the Willie Hutch-sampling ballad peaked at number 37 on Billboard's R&B/hip-hop chart, James issued Eldorado, his debut full-length, a number eight hit on the corresponding album chart. "Permission" was subsequently nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best R&B Performance (and later achieved platinum status). Between albums, James issued another EP, Smoke, in 2018. A handful of singles also preceded the May 2020 arrival of Mantic, which featured collaborations with labelmate Miguel ("Too Much") and Brandy ("Plan B"). ~ Andy Kellman