James Franco: Actor, writer, director, painter, Ivy League university professor...and now singer! Apparently classic Hollywood good looks, a dude-like demeanor, and an insatiable lust for art in all forms can get a guy pretty far.
Franco has just released the music video for his first single, "Rising," off of his Kalup & Franco EP. The lead singer of the pair is Brooklyn-based video/performance artist Kalup Linzy, who performs frequently in drag. Franco was already a fan of Kalup's video pieces, in which Linzy would play every character (mostly women) in a satirical soap opera of his creation called "All My Churen." After finally meeting at Linzy's performance at Art Basel Miami in 2009, Franco invited the artist to guest-star on "General Hospital," when Franco happened to be playing a multimedia artist on that soap. Linzy appeared on Franco's show as a lounge singer, and Franco performed in Linzy's live act, alongside Linzy's drag alter-ego "Taiwan."
OK, with a setup that makes the collaboration more about art than music, Kalup 7 Franco's video for "Rising" completely makes sense. The song itself is an angsty R&B slow-jam on which Franco provides only the slightest of backup vocals. The cheap, layered, slightly New Age-y visuals are on par with the DIY art scene coming out of New York City right now. Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafitti and Geneva Jacuzzi have made good examples of the cruddy-but-cool, low-budget, VHS-quality videos underground musicians are drawn to nowadays. Contagiously absurdist pop singer Ssion has in fact taken campy videos to a whole new level. Note: All three of these artists are highly recommended.
If anything, I have to give props to James Franco for exploring everything from teaching at Yale to posing in drag on the cover of Candy, the "world's first transversal fashion magazine," and now this. A music collaboration with Linzy is just yet another step in the actor-slash-whatever's quest for hip, art-world relevancy.
The duo's first album Turn It Up is slated to drop July 12. Watch Kalup & Franco's bizarre music video for "Rising" below:
[Photo by Roger Kisby/Getty Images]