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On My Mind : Rapper Kyle James

Kyle James

“Everyone just assumes that since my dad took his position, (I’ve been fed from a) silver spoon or whatever. I’ll walk in somewhere and (people) will think I got a shit-ton of money. I’m like, ‘I can’t even afford a cup of soup right now. I don’t have a job. I go around and do music. I’m behind my bills like half of America.’ ”


The son of Kansas City mayor Sly James is no stranger to controversy. But despite run-ins with the law — one as recently as last week, when he was arrested for failing to appear in court on a speeding charge – the 24-year-old seems to have found some level of solace in music. In August, he released the mixtape “Barz4Daze” (the remix of the track “Bender” features KC rap icons Tech N9ne and Mac Lethal), and he’s currently performing at area venues along with childhood friend Kemet “The Phantom” Coleman.


On his foray into music: “The first song that I ever recorded was actually over at Kemet’s spot. I think I was probably in sixth grade. … It was called ‘Down Low,’ and all the little freshmen girls and eighth-grade girls, they loved it. Some of the girls I still know still have it. I’m like, ‘Aw, turn it off! Turn it off!’ It was kind of amateur, at best.”

On youthful exuberance: “I’ve been to pretty much every school in the world. I’ve been to so many damn schools. I went to Rockhurst for high school for a little bit, then I ended up going to Lincoln, then I went to Paseo. So I was kind of a little class clown back then, and I don’t think it really worked in that regimented structure.”

On rhyming: “What was big back then was battle raps. Lunchroom, bathroom, we used to go wherever we wouldn’t get in trouble. And the first six times I rapped against somebody, I got demolished. I got absolutely demolished. And then I remember one day, we were at the lunch table and everybody was around, and I battled this dude who had beat me before, and I finally got him. I finally won, and from that point on, I don’t think I’ve lost.”

On rough patches: “When all this (stuff) was going on, there was kind of this void in my life. Everything bad was happening. Bad, bad, bad. … And I was like, ‘Damn, what do I do now?’ I got fired from my job, and I was in a mind state where I didn’t really have any way to get it out, so I’d sit there and write.”

On family: “The way I look at that whole situation is that … I can take it. Mentally, I can take everything that’s coming at me: Bam! He’s a shitty person, yada, yada, yada . But what I didn’t like is how it got correlated with what my dad was doing.”

On the mayor: “He supports me fully in music. (Would) he like me to sit there and express it in a little bit different way? Yeah, but it’s one of those things.”

On new beginnings: “Through all the (things) that I’ve been through, the mistakes I made, and then the stuff that I thought was (completely false) that I was accused of, that wasn’t even true — all that factored in and gave me motivation and created a void for a new beginning.”


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