I don't compare myself to other rappers
Image Credit: James Gardin
One of the most playlisted rappers on xRhythms is the Michigan-based artist, James Gardin.
This rapper, singer, and producer has made a string of hot singles, of which you'll hear 'Complaining' and 'Promise land', among others, on xRhythms.
He was born in Germany, to parents in the army, before moving to Arizona at four years old, and settling into Lansing, Michigan, at 10 years old.
He got involved with music early through church choir, guitar lessons from a mentor, and his first rap as part of an anti-drug song competition.
After failing a fifth-grade test to play the violin at school, he took matters into his own hands and dug into books to learn how to play sheet music.
I don't approach music with rules set to it.
"I didn't understand music in their systematic way," he remembered, "but today, I don't approach music with rules set to it anyway, I'm glad I learned it for myself."
Gardin's interest in hip-hop rekindled after seeing Eminem's film '8 Mile' and, while still in high school, he began rapping with some friends.
He told Cross Rhythms, "I think we were influenced by what was on the radio, so we would rap about beating people up and taking their girlfriends, which isn't the best content.
I wasn't doing the things I rapped about.
"As I grew more in my faith, though, I realised I couldn't talk about that stuff, and I started realising everything I was talking about weren't things I was actually living. 'Why am I talking about that? I don't even know anything about this. Maybe I should actually talk about things I know about.'
"My original rap name was P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. - with a 'ph'. That was 17 year old James' idea! I wrote down rap names and I was like, 'That one looks good on paper!'"
He commented, "I made some recordings as P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. in 2003. But I have since destroyed all copies. I don't want anybody to hear those at all."
Cross Rhythms asked this exceptionally good rapper whether he felt frustrated on seeing lesser hip-hop talents on TV, knowing that they've sold half a million records.
My perspective may be different to most rappers.
Said James, "My perspective may be different to most rappers. This is me being hard on myself. I don't engage as much on social media - or any media - as much as they do. So, if I compare myself to them, I think the reason they are surpassing me is that they are louder with their message.
"My message and the way I do it is very proficient and high quality. I could just be louder with it. So if I was louder talking about 'Joy' in every avenue, I think then there would be no choice but for it to be huge."
"I'm looking at how to do that more," he continued, "because if I listen to the radio and hear a bunch of music that's not of the highest quality - it's mind-numbing - I know I need to be louder in giving a message that combats that.
"That's me maybe getting out of my comfort-zone and starting more conversations. I live in a way that what I truly feel is there's no person that's stopping me from my success. If there is, it's probably just me.
They can't control what God has for me, or the impact this'll have.
"I try my best not to get upset with what other rappers are doing, because they can't control what God has for me, or the impact that this'll have in the long run."