Seeing Hip Hop artist Emmitt James perform, is like being at a spiritually moving and intense concert, one whose artist is passionate about his work and just as equally as passionate about those that surround him. The audience soaks up with James’ energy and leaves the concert feeling electrified and renewed as if they had just experienced something for the first time.
And that’s exactly how James’ wants you to feel.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wis., James (20) is not only a Hip Hop artist, but also a nationally acclaimed spoken word poet, something that has clearly influenced his music. In high school, he was introduced to spoken word poetry, which made him realize that his words had power.
“I love poetry,” James said. “But I’ve always loved music.”
James, currently a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, wanted to balance these passions.
“When I got to college I said I wanted people to identify me just as much as a poet as a hip hop artists,” James said.
James has been successful in doing so, releasing his second EP: “Until I’m a Dead Poet” in 2012, following his first, “Are You Listening Yet?” This past year, James has been performing around the country from his hometown of Milwaukee to New York.
Through his music, James hopes to send an inspiring message to his listeners and audience.
“You can only go as far as you want to be…A struggle can be a beautiful thing,” James said.
His past also heavily influences his writing and music, which is so personal sometimes that it almost makes you uncomfortable—is he really sharing all of this with you? The answer is yes, and that’s what makes James so electrifying.
James’ electricity translates when he’s performing on stage. He wants his audience to experience new things. Going to a school in the middle of Wisconsin, James struggles with finding diversity. But he’s embraced that. He wants to introduce people to hip hop who have never been really exposed to it before.
He wants his audience to leave saying, “I thought it was a hip hop concert and that’s what I was expecting, but it was so much better than I thought.’”
Usually when performing, hip hop artists, play a recording of their track and sing over it. James takes a step back from this in his performances, oftentimes having concerts with live bands which also allows him to collaborate and support other artists. He doesn’t plan on having a band at all concerts, however in future performances, he plans on having a DJ and a live drummer.
James is changing the hip hop world one honest and hard-hitting lyric at a time. He’s changing it with contagious performances that highlight musicality and knowledge of what gets a crowd to move.
For James, his career as a musician and performer is just beginning. Currently he is excited about a new track entitled “Mama’s Favorite” which he says will be the “birth of a new project.”
James’ new music video is scheduled to release on July 5. He has upcoming shows booked in Milwaukee as well as Stevens Point, Wis. For full listings of shows and upcoming events, check out his Facebook page: Emmitt James Music and Twitter: @Emmitt_James.
Published in The Grey Estates Zine.