Emmitt James

Tellie's The Beat talks with Emmitt James—hip-hop jazz artist based in Los Angeles, CA.

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This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. 

 

Introduction

My name is Emmitt James and I am a hip-hop/jazz artist, DIY-Renaissance man. 

Beginnings…

Truly, it started off with this girl named Tamara Lynn Deliz. I had this crush on her and I wrote my first five or six poems about her. She actually still has these poems, by the way. So I wrote my first poems about her, then I got into spoken word poetry, and then that turned into music.

When I was in high school and I did slam poetry, a lot of people were doing heavy, sad, depressed poems—sad and depressed to me. Stories that needed to be told and needed to be heard, but I wanted to bring a lighthearted element to the poetry. So let’s say the poem was about immigration, which is a heavy topic. I’d want to say something funny to get people’s attention. I have a poem called “Last Night I Made Love to a Mexican” and every time I say that people say, “Oh, what is this about?” It starts off funny and then we go into the topic of immigration. 

I like to do that with the music as well. A lot of the music is inspired by my everyday life or something I heard or something that someone said to me. I like to keep it relatable and lighthearted.

“Creativity to me just means being yourself. So whether that be in music, whether that be in films, whether it be in the way you dress, whatever way it is that you express yourself, it’s just you being unapologetically you.”


What would you say to young Emmitt? 

I think I would have told him to move to LA right away. Maybe instead of going to college, I would’ve told young Emmitt to go to LA. I think everything happens for a reason, but sometimes I wonder if I had gotten to LA earlier, would the journey be a little bit different? Would it be sped up? Would it be slowed down? So that’s what I would tell him. 

What does creativity mean to you? 

Creativity to me just means being yourself. So whether that be in music, whether that be in films, whether it be in the way you dress, whatever way it is that you express yourself, it’s just you being unapologetically you. That’s what creativity means to me in a nutshell. 


What makes you come alive?

I would say the thing that makes me come alive is my art. I remember one of the first times I wanted to do something and I did it. And I was like, Oh, I could do it. Whatever I’m thinking, I can do it. I think being able to think of something, get excited about the idea, come up with the concept, and then watch it come to life is one of my favorite things.


This interview was conducted on October 29th, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

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