Why I Don’t Use an Artist Name

When you think of musicians and artists you usually refer to them with a pseudonym. A fake name that they give themselves to be identified throughout their career. I have nothing against it’s use but, personally it’s not for me and here’s why.

  1. I’m Proud of My Name: James Revels III. I love it. It’s unique(ish) and like the the way it rolls off my tongue. James was passed down from my granddad to my uncle and now me, so it’s like a passed torch. I also love my last name because it’s a memorial  to my (very) distant uncle Hiram Revels, the first African American senator. With that much history behind my name I have a lot to be proud of.
  2. Pseudonyms as Alter Egos: I prefer to use my name because when I create my art I feel I’m at my realest. A lot of artists describe themselves having an alter ego or separate personality when they create, I feel the opposite. I feel like this creative side is the true me and when I work my day job I’m putting on a mask. Some artist put on a certain “image” while the only image I wish to portray is an accurate portrait of myself.
  3. Google Friendly: Because my full name is relatively unique it’s easier to corner my own niche of keywords to google.  Type” James Revels” and the second auto-suggest is “James Revels the Composer” the third is “James Revels WordPress”. Typing in “James Revels” in general, provides links that fill the entire ever crucial 1st page. This saved a lot of time that would have been wasted on thinking of an SEO friendly name.

So those are the reason’s that I use my real name instead of a made up one. Stay tuned for updates on my upcoming Hip-Hop Project “Escapism EP”. It’s a 5 track original EP that is an escape from the current norms of hip hop. I also released the album cover yesterday (also designed by yours truly) Check it out. If you like it hope you stay tuned as I get ready to release the first single “Genesis” in the next couple of weeks.


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America: The Culture of Escapism

Over the last several months I have been working on a project titled “Escapism EP” and it is inspired by the realization that I used drug and entertainment as escapism. Upon further introspection I realized that this problem is a symptom of a much bigger and hidden disease that not only affects me, but the culture as a whole.

Before I delve deeper, let me say I am not against having fun. There’s a time and a place for fun, but I feel that for a lot of people that time is nearly all the time. That over time people use drug, entertainment, and sex as a life escape rather than a life enhancer, which it ideally should be.

Today, people worship the people or things that can take them away from the reality. Actors, Musicians, Sports Stars, YouTube, Video Games, T.V. make ridiculous amount of money because they help us forget the current situation. Take the edge off. This becomes unhealthy when all our mass media outlets are about the Kardashian’s or some sex scandal involving our favorite actors.

While chasing the American Dream at what point should we wake up and chase reality instead?

  Those are just my thoughts. What do you think?  Leave a comment below.

Two Types of Intelligence: Analytical v.s. Abstract

There are many types of intelligence that exist in this world. There’s social intelligence and academic intelligence, but I want to focus on two I am intimately familiar with; analytical and abstract intelligence.

Analytical Intelligence

We’ve all heard the saying “Think outside the box”. Well, analytical intelligence is the exact opposite of that. Analytical people will look inside the box, describe and break down every thing inside the boxes. They may even get lost in the boxes inside the boxes! This type of intelligence is great for understanding the nuances of specific objects. It’s like taking a magnifying glass and notating all the like cracks, crevices and colors. This lends well to math and science. The problem with this intelligence is that getting lost in the details is all too easy.

Abstract Intelligence

Abstract intelligence is the counterpart to analysis. Theses are the ones who “think outside of the box” and realize that all ideas are in one big box with infinite smaller boxes. Stated simply, abstraction is the act of generalization; stripping away the specifics and focusing on the similarities. For instance, “Color” is an abstraction of the specific colors “Blue” and “Orange” or “Sport” is an abstraction of the specific sports “Soccer” and “Baseball”. An abstraction is, like a big box that you fit other smaller boxes in to connect them together.  This lends well to poetry because you can abstract two unrelated words like, “bullet” and “shark”, into a simile such as “The shark swam like a speeding bullet”.  Abstract minded people usually are good at creative writing, art and music. The problem with abstract thought is that if the relation between the two ideas is too loose communicating the thought could be disastrous.

Final Thoughts

No intelligence is better than the other. I’d say analytical intelligence tends to be more practical, but abstract intelligence tends to be more beautiful. Although, in practice we use both simultaneously, there tends to be a preference for analytical over abstract. There’s nothing wrong wrong with this but without understanding the balance we miss one half of the equation that makes subjects like math interesting. Math is the analysis of an abstract concept called numbers. While writing composition classes are the abstractions of multiple pieces of writing. By framing school work or problems in this way it could help with finding solutions. If you know all the details and are still stuck, try to find a loosely similar situations that you relate to and try to tackle it that way (analytical to abstract). Or if you are confused on a dense concept, try to ground the idea in a metaphor, by relating the parts you do understand to something familiar. (abstract to analytical).

What do you think? Leave a comment. Thanks for reading.

Check out the new song I composed for the game I’m working on.


On Being Grateful

On Being Grateful

by: James Revels III


The paradigm has switched from “Less is More” to “More is Less”. In a culture where we have worn down the soles of our shoes trying to keep up with the Jones, take this second with me to sit down, untie the laces and relax. Don’t worry that your iPhone doesn’t have an ‘S’ at the end. I won’t judge you for it.

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. –Epictetus

Today, we live in an amazing time where we can have anything we want mail ordered to our homes or pre-ordered for pick up thanks to our magic plastic boxes in our pockets. We have more connections with friends and family via the internet and the social media it has spawned. We can swim in and drink clean water. (Well…99% of the time, sorry Michigan) Our cabinets are (for the most part) stocked with food, even if it’s only ramen noodles and canned goods. We are surrounded by so much cheap and accessible entertainment. We have video games, movies, music and, of course, everyone favorite, Netflix and Chill. Don’t get me started on the beauties of nature. This article would be a million words long so I’ll truncate it here.

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Kelly Clarkson “Piece by Piece” (The GB&U Music Review)

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Music Reviews

Piece by Piece – Kelly Clarkson (2015)

Welcome to the review of Kelly Clarkson’s latest album “Piece by Piece”. As the first winner of American Idol, is she good enough to be considered an idol or have her skills just become idle.

The Good

Kelly’s voice is stronger than ever on this album. She has a strong consistent voice throughout the album and I believe she has put her time into this album. I also love the variety of subject matter. From her claims to not want her “Bad Reputation” ruined and her “Nostalgic” feeling towards past failed relationships. She has a variety of songs that range from edgy upbeat tracks to soulful ballads, proving she does have a “Second Wind”

The Bad

A lot of the tracks are forgettable. After the opening track “Heartbeat Song” the next three songs. “Invincible”, “Someone” and “Take You High” got lost in memory and didn’t really draw me in. Especially the feature with John Legend on “Run Run Run”

The Ugly

The ugliest part of the albums were the ballads. I don’t know if it’s the quality of the song or placement of these songs within the album but they slow the pace of the album down for me. The three tracks I mentioned after “Heartbeat Song” suffered mostly from being after such a poppy upbeat track. It really made those following track drag longer than expected.

Final Thoughts

Would I recommend this album? Yes

Who would I recommend this album to: Those wanting something pop but with a little variety.

Favorite Song: Nostalgic

Least Favorite Song: Take You High

Next week’s review: Fall Out Boy – American Beauty/American Psycho

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Big Sean “Dark Sky Paradise” Review (GB&U Music Review)

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Music Reviews

Dark Sky Paradise – Big Sean (2015)

Welcome to the review of Big Sean’s most recent release “Dark Sky Paradise”. So let’s begin exploring the good, the bad and the ugly from this album shall we.

The Good

Big Sean is HUNGRY on this album. Get this man a buffet! You can tell from the first song “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)” that he has something to prove this album. His lines are still as clever as always. I feel like he has matured a lot on this album and songs like “Win Some, Lose Some” prove that. This album is very deep and introspective with a balance of fun songs like “I Don’t Fuck with You”. This balance of substance and play is something I find is lacking in most mainstream hip hop. Not to mention even the bonus tracks sound album worthy but any way onto..

The Bad

Who keeps telling Big Sean he can sing his own hooks? His “singing” sounds like monotone crooning on most songs, sometimes it works but on song like “I Know” he should leave it his guest feature Jhene Aiko. Seriously though.

The Ugly

I think the main thing that brings the album down on the whole are the features. I feel like most of the features fall flat or don’t bring much to the song and are forgettable especially when compared to Big Sean’s energy. The singers do a great job on hooks though (except for Chris Brown on “Play No Games” something about it just didn’t mesh with my ears). For instance, E-40 on “I Don’t Fuck with You” I can’t remember a line from his verse. Lil Wayne on “Deep” sounded like a computer trying to rap because when he started speed up his flow the auto tune took over his vocals killing clarity. Then don’t get me started on Kanye’s lack luster verse on “All your fault” (Though that last verse where they switch back and forth is dope.)

Would I recommend this album? Yes

Who would I recommend this album to: Those needing some motivation or something to get hyped up for the rest of the day.

Favorite Song: Win Some, Lose Some

Least Favorite Song: Deep

Next week’s review: Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece by Piece”