“I have to ask” I said, knowing how common it is for those who decide to chase their passions openly: “Did you lose many friends when you decided to pursue music?”
I debated following up with another message to backtrack; maybe a “lol jk” or “haha” to lighten the mood but an answer popped up before I could think further.
A handful of chats via Google Hangouts based in a corporate setting is where this guy came into my life. If you google “JamesG” he is exactly what you see; but is he?
JamesG – rapper, producer, and heely enthusiast (he’s branded, check his insta). An actor of art and comedy, but is the prior his true identity or just a misinterpretation? I had the pleasure of meeting James as a coworker back in 2020; he was actually my boss. So, when I found out my direct manager of sorts spent his free time spitting rhymes and dropping heely trick compilations; I had questions.
For starters; Is this how people get promoted around here? But more seriously – how do you juggle thousands of followers bugging you every day while holding down a “forty hour” cough-morelike50-cough a week job (beware advertising folks)? We start there.
Like any creature of success, James is a being of ritual and logic. A philosophy student at UMD, James has a stoic presence about him professionally that made it even harder for me to understand this persona he was on the social scene. But, that’s what makes James, well, James.
After studying communications and philosophy at UMD a few years back, James checked the boxes as many of us do after leaving the suburbs (for him it was St. Cloud) and moving on to the life of adulthood in America; Debt, angst, and a whole lot of news about gas prices. Music was always a constant for James though; Whether he was tutoring students for music, or working at a bank as a loan professional – his thoughts raced over new lyrics and beats to brew up.
It wasn’t always rap – James tried being a lead singer and starting bands growing up, but as any artist learns; your passion will often leave you feeling alone as no one can match it if you find your spark. It kinda sucks, but it’s a thing. People get spooked too when you commit to something in this country that doesn’t inherently “make you rich.” James fought the middle class conceived notion of “you gotta go corporate to be somebody” and kept working on his ideas and music as time passed after graduating.
It all came down to a van, a lover, and a green notebook when James took the first big step towards becoming the micro-star we have in the cities today.
It was 2018 when James and his partner cleaned up a run-down van, and converted it into a mobile home of sorts while they traveled across the country, hitting the northwest mountains and southwest deserts of the US. While venturing around, sleeping in parking lots, and showering in public gyms, James worked on his music and even found a few open mics to perform at; he still talks to some of the friends he made there along the way. While most of the trip was hiking and music-oriented, there was a stop in Vegas but we didn’t go much further into that; as they say – what happens in Vegas… you know.
What summarizes James’ music career to date relates to Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of “10,000 hours:” In order to be a master of anything, one must practice for over 10k hours and James truly has surpassed that point; you can hear it on every track he drops now, in each verse he rhymes – it is all intentional, has depth, and is calculated.
At one point in our talk James whipped out a green notebook – one you’d see a school kid lugging to school in a ripped dirty backpack; but no, don’t judge it by its cover – this notebook had the dream and continues to be the foundation of “JamesG.” In it was the ideation for what makes JamesG – but what caught my attention was something you might still be wondering about as well – Why Heelys?
If you aren’t familiar with Heelys, they’re the “secret rollerblades” of the 2000s; or, shoes with wheels in the heels. James has formed a partnership with Heelys for his highlight videos which are dropped every week (links below, by the way). While he jumps, skips, and glides across the Twin Cities, music of his own and other local artists often take the audio for his trick vids and that just shows his dedication to the community and the network he is a part of as a local musician, and just fun guy. Heelys? Awesome.
Inspired by artists like Lil Dicky, Oliver Tree, and Lil B – the one thing they all have in common? They prove people wrong and don’t give up on being themselves. So what’s next? Well, Comedian drops today (April 6th) and if you haven’t gotten into James yet, now is the time. Why “Comedian?” Well, when you see a grown man heely-ing around town and rapping, some find it hard to take him seriously; So is he a joke? Absolutely not – and this EP is almost a reaction to how people should realllyyyyyy listen to his lyrics a bit more; this guy is not fucking around. Tracks like “LOL,” “ROFL” and “HAHAHAHAHA” are just mirroring the stuff James has seen in the comments on his videos and new tracks. No more jokes, but isn’t he joking around? That question will persist as He will.
Check him out HERE and thanks for reading 🙂