Miguel James, born Miguel Barrett, is a Rapper who resides in Portmore, Jamaica. A member of the Jamaican Hip Hop collective Sons Of Liberty, Miguel contributed bars on many of their songs and brought energy to their live shows. As how it is with groups, the individuals worked on solo projects and many got to see another side to each member. Miguel started out with a string of singles before releasing his debut mixtape “Elite” in 2013. Originally known as “haYze”, Mechanical Dummy caught Miguel recently to discuss a few things including his solo project, the meaning of his name, and his sound.
Words by W. Haye
Mechanical Dummy: Given that you’re a part of the Sons Of Liberty many will know of the group and not the individual, who is Miguel James and what do you create?
Miguel James: Miguel James is a 22 year old Musician from Portmore, Jamaica. Not to be vague about it but I create music from the soul and seeing that many will buy into the music just for the image or hype, I’d rather just create something that is real and meaningful for people who will appreciate it more than the hype that can die in an instant.
MD: What made you want to pursue a Hip Hop career?
MJ: When I was younger me and my older brother used to watch MTV Jams and BET regularly and get up to date with some of the latest music. Seeing that we grew up in a house that always played music I grew an appreciation for it and fell in love with Hip Hop. With that in mind it only made sense I steered myself in that direction of making a career out of it.
MD: You’re a member of the Sons Of Liberty group, what made you want to launch a solo career?
MJ: The Sons Of Liberty is a label first, group second but many people get it misconstrued. We have a long way to go in bringing the label to a certain level so I understand why many would see us more as a musical group. We are all solo artists working on our projects but seeing that we are a family it was only right that we contributed into creating one project which was “Escape Theory”. I’ve always been working on my own projects.
MD: You describe your music as music from the soul, who are your influences?
MJ: While my influences are broad, my top 5 consists of Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Marvin Gaye, Gill Scott-Heron, and Biggie. We all know how influential they all are but i’m an avid listener of Marvin Gaye. He was a very soulful artist who would put his heart on a track. Even with his collaborator Leon Ware, Marvin would breathe life into Leon’s songwriting. I respect Marvin Gaye a whole lot.
MD: You recently released “Elite”, what was the process like in creating it?
MJ: I’m a very picky person so the process in creating it was a long one. I’ve spent a great amount of time into creating each track and making sure that it’s perfect. A lot of experimenting with sounds went into this until me and my collaborators Heatwave and Riptide were comfortable with a core set of songs. The concept here was to have a story being told in these tracks rather than just have 11 songs and release it. I wanted things to be cohesive. In the creative process there were alot of songs that didn’t make the final cut but hopefully I’ll release some soon.
MD: You started off using the stage name “haYze” but why did you change it to Miguel James?
MJ: The reason why I’ve used Miguel James is because “James” is my mom’s maiden name. My mom has been a big part of my life as she introduced me to some of the sounds I love today. I felt like everything I’ve done so far, they’re all for her and using her maiden name makes her a part of it and give it much more meaning.
MD: When you’re not creating music, what do you do in your off time?
MJ: I play video games, write, check out soccer, and although I can’t completely give music a break I make beats. I’m working on that side of me and I hope to perfect it very soon.
MD: Is there any producer or artist you’d love to collaborate with for a dream project?
MJ: Internationally I’d love to work with Kanye West. Despite how the media portrays him, he is still a great artist and visionary and has a drive that I respect fully. Locally I’d love to work with Acmatic. I’ve been trying to collaborate with them for a very long time because I love their energy and musical efforts.
MD: Any advice for the Young G’z who would want to pursue a Hip Hop career?
MJ: If you believe in yourself and the things that you create, go for it and don’t let anyone hinder your progress. Avoid people coming to you with ignorance to sway your ambitions away, persevere, work hard on your craft and fall in love with it.