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"As soon as that happened, I wasn't Kyle," James says. "I wasn't K.J. I was the mayor's son. People probably looked at it as 'he wants some attention — it's a gimmick,' or something like that."
James is reluctant to rehash this and other scuffles, but he admits that he's been wrong a few times. His mistakes, he adds, have just been a little more public than most people's.
"There's also been times when things were blatant lies," he says. "There's also been times when my personality and how eccentric I am — people may not know how to react to it. I think it could be misunderstood."
By the end of August 2011, though, he was back in the news, accused of punching a woman in the face at a bar, the Point. TV news crews camped outside his apartment. Reporters knocked on his door, and James, scheduled to work that day, holed up to avoid the attention.
"I actually lost my job," James says. He'd been a server at Brio. "I couldn't go to work because of this shit."
The assault case was scheduled for trial this past February but was thrown out after the woman failed to show up in court. By then, the TV crews and reporters were less interested.
"I'm proven not guilty, and nothing's even said," James says. "Nobody even took the time to see if this is even fucking true. It's just like, 'He punched some girl in the face.' Inaccurate. That's part of the shit that comes with the territory."
Things got worse this past April 8. James was with Kendrick Williams that night when Williams was fatally shot in Westport. As the Middle of the Map Fest was wrapping up its weekend in the entertainment district, men in a car heckled Williams' fiancée in the parking lot of the Sun Fresh market. Someone in the car opened fire on Williams when he moved to check on her.
James saw a man point something from one of the car's windows. He thought it was a camera phone. It was a gun. There was a pop. Williams got "hyped up" and pushed him, James says.
"These dudes are shooting?" James says Williams told him. "This is crazy."
Williams' fiancée was the first to notice that he'd been shot. Then Williams, 22, collapsed.
"He was smiling when he passed away," James says. "He told me, 'You got this.' I've internalized that and remembered that. I knew what he was talking about. That's why I want to be unwavering in the whole approach to this because it's bigger than just me. When you see something like that, it's kind of hard to be scared of a crowd or be onstage or be scared to walk down a street. What do you really fear at the end of the day? And are you going to let that limit you?"
Williams' killing remains unsolved. James and Coleman now wear matching black and gold "Stop the Violence — In Memory of Kid" bracelets to remember their friend.
The violence around James didn't stop, though. In late April, Fox 4 reported that James was "beaten and bloodied" after a fight with a self-proclaimed martial-arts expert outside the Brooksider. James refused to press charges and accepted a ride home from police. "I didn't fight," James says. "I just stood there thinking I was doing a righteous thing."