CSU’s Mitchell James focuses in on his music

Miles Parrish

Mitchell James is doing more than just pursuing a degree in sociology. Originally from Fresno, California, he spent six and a half years as a member of the United States Navy before coming to Colorado State University to pursue not only his education, but a future in music.

At 26 years old, James, a junior at CSU, has been making music for the past 10 years, but has taken it much more seriously since leaving the Navy.


“I did something I didn’t want to do for a long period of time,” James said.

As his time in the Navy came to a close, Jame’s energy steadily shifted more and more towards pursuing music and he grew more frustrated as he continued to anticipate making music.

“If I could take one emotion away from those six and a half years, frustration would probably be the one,” he said.

James is still very thankful for his time in the Navy.

“The reason I’m here on this campus is because of the Navy,” he said. “There’s no other way in the world I would’ve done this otherwise.”

Once he got out, James made a commitment to his pursuit of a career in music.

James is well-driven by his influences. He credits Mac Miller as being one of his musical inspirations; citing the rapper’s death as a major reason why he decided to take rapping seriously. Since Miller released his “K.I.D.S.” mixtape at 18, James has seen Miller as a major relatable figure in his life whether it was over teenage angst or progressing into adult life.

“Me and Mac are like the exact same age by a couple months,” he said. “So when he was coming up when he was 18 years old, I would’ve been rapping about the same stuff. Mac is my equivalent to the Harry Potter series.”

James has started seriously rapping for about seven months now. He put out his first release, “The Sally Field” EP this past October, and has been consistently putting out projects since. He currently has three EPs and his fourth EP, “This Imaginary Life” is expected to drop within the next week according to him.


Though James wants to put out a full-length album, he believes doing so is an achievement he must first earn the proper attention for.

“I’m at a point in my career where people have 15 minutes of me,” he said. “If I release a project they’ll give me 15 minutes, maybe.”

Until he can build up the following that he feels will warrant the release of an album, James is dedicated to reaching that milestone for himself, and though he has put out several releases in less than a year, he is dedicated to his progression as an artist.

One of James’ primary goals through his music is not only to make quality releases, but to also evolve artistically.

“You see a lot of people try to use the same formula and it just gets tired,” he said. “I stopped (‘The Imaginary Life’) when I felt like I was changing my style and started evolving.”

“The Sally Field” EP covers James’ entrance into the world of rap. He showcases an optimistic attitude in his commitment to being an artist and eliminating any insecurities.

The song “Silver Linings” is a prime example of these themes, as he finds positivity in his opportunities instead of dwelling on circumstances he falls into. The EP as a whole covers his newfound optimism both through his catchy, bright verses and old school, cheerful instrumentals.

As he has progressed, James has begun to enter a sound that mixes the soft, melodic themes of lo-fi hip hop with the hard-hitting instrumentals of the trap sound as seen on both his “Nice to Meet You” and “thanksbutnothanks” EPs. However, he still maintains a sonic variety. “Phasmotodea” off of “Nice to Meet You,” for example, shows his approach at a slower, spacier sound where he lays down a deeper cut about his relationship with his wife and the support that he’s found in that relationship.

His upcoming “This Imaginary Life” EP is geared towards that mixture of lo-fi and trap that he has been exploring, but if there’s one thing to never expect from James, it would be the same thing.

Two of the singles for James’ upcoming “This Imaginary Life” EP, “Pareidolia” and “Weather” are available for listening on all streaming services. His entire discography can be found on Apple Music, Spotify and Soundcloud.

Miles Parrish can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @parrishm20.