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October 2014 - James Gardin

Hip Hop's "Good Guy" is one of Lansing's Gems

Story by LCC Radio Staff Reporter Sarah Spohn

James GardinHip hop artists often get a bad rap, but Lansing's James Gardin is out to put a stop to that. Gardin spoke about the mitten state and it’s influence on the artist. “Michigan is home, it’s where I’ve been for the past 18 years and it’s shaped me the most musically, mentally and spiritually,” Gardin said.
Gardin’s Michigan roots were planted firmly in music since the third grade.

“I got my feet wet in music by writing a drug free rap in the 3rd grade for a school contest,” Gardin said. “But I didn’t really start writing my own music until high school.” Yet it wasn’t high school as much as college that was a game changer for Gardin. College Dropout that is, Kanye West’s 2004 album. Other classics that have shaped Gardin’s stylistic hip hop choices include a classic soul Motown artist. “I know Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On is one of those influential albums,” Gardin said. “That album is so amazing in the way it’s structured and sequenced and the powerful messages that are spoken throughout the record.”

Powerful messages continue to be woven through Gardin’s contemporary hip hop works. His newest single, “Gold” was released Sept. 23. “So, “Gold” is all about female empowerment,” Gardin said. “And I love that record. I worked really hard for a pretty long time in shaping that record to its current form.” And this hip hop artist has seen plenty of different shapes and forms of music over the years. He previously performed as “P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. which stood for Phenomenal Hip-Hop Individual Living Through His Years.

“I switched my name to my birth name because P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. had been used by another artist,” Gardin said. “I think also, with the name change I wanted to be able to stretch my artistry and my former name kind of put me in a box that I didn’t want to stay in.”Boxes were just what Gardin wanted to think outside of, things he thought P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. couldn’t do. “I wanted to sing more, speak more, experiment more with different genres, and James Gardin can do that.

A new name and a new record, and the doors continue to open for Gardin, who recently opened for Texas singer-songwriter Arum Rae at Mac’s Bar. And besides creating a name for himself as hip hop’s “good guy,” Gardin has been pumping out the positive spirits and feel good vibes that are sometimes lacking from the hip hop industry. A big focus of Gardin’s music centers around social causes, benefits and overall well-being.

“I think social justice is a human responsibility that we all have,” Gardin said. “I think we get so caught up with our differences that we fail to realize how small this world is and how much we truly have in common.” Moleskins and Pocketsquares, Gardin’s latest album was released April 2014. While “Gold” was released as a single, the new album is in the final stage of mixing with an expected release date of November.




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