“Shame On You.”

As the crowd filed in on a perfect Friday evening, there was one name on everyone’s lips. Andra Day.

“Shame On You.”

The crowd gets thicker, the air hotter, and everyone is excited to see what is bound to be a powerful night of music. I haven’t seen Webster Hall like this in a very long time — young, old, black, white — something was up, and everyone could feel it.

“Who’s the opener?” I heard someone ask their friend. “You haven’t heard?” I nosily interject, “Giovanni James.”

Almost on cue, the lights dim, and an eerie “Uh huh” emerges from the darkness. The powerful voice of Giovanni James greets the ears of the eagerly awaiting crowd. Little did they know, this newcomer was just about to introduce himself in the only way he knows how. His first words, “I’m wild as a jackal/Tryna tackle these shackles” sends chills up my spine, and I’m sure I can’t be the only one as I hear an involuntary “woo!” from behind me.

“Shame On You” is what Giovanni boldly screams at the crowd and they apologize throughout his all-too-short set by dancing and nodding without remorse.

Fresh off the release of his debut EP Whutcha Want that same day, Giovanni and his Monkey Dope crew were more than ready to release their energy onto the world. I sat down with Giovanni and Dangerkat the day before in their Harlem studio and the quiet duo that sipped their lemon water in front of me were clearly saving their energy for their performance the next day. Shame on me for thinking they’d be anything less than electric.

Giovanni James and his Monkey Dope crew have officially been released into the wild. Be sure to keep a keen eye on these guys as they’ve got way more than music up their sleeves.