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James and Coleman were supposed to perform at the Riot Room as part of The Pitch Music Showcase August 4. They say "technical difficulties" kept them from playing their set that Saturday night. Coleman says the Riot Room had one sound person, working two stages, who told him that the club didn't have the wiring needed to hook up his laptop. And then his computer crashed. (They found their way onto the stage later. DJ Sheppa let them freestyle on top of some beats at the Riot Room.)
Coleman says he and James were sitting outside the Riot Room, figuring out what to do next, when a Foundry employee approached James. "This punk bitch from the Foundry comes up to him and goes, 'You're not going to start any trouble, are you?' "
"This always happens," James says. He kept his cool, told the guy: "Dude, I'm sitting here. I'm performing tonight. I'm not trying to come into the bar."
"You gotta let that shit roll and realize this all comes full circle," James says. "Big reward, big shit."
Coleman says people have tried to steer him away from James. Someone even created a Twitter account to do so.
"The only two tweets are to me," Coleman says. He remembers the messages. "You're putting yourself in a bad light if you're hanging out with that James dude. He's going to fuck up your reputation."
His ex-girlfriend warned him about James, too. Coleman says she told him, "I feel like you broke up with me to go be with Kyle."
Basketball and music brought James and Coleman together at Notre Dame de Sion. They made their first recording together in the basement of Coleman's parents' home when James was in sixth grade and Coleman in eighth.
"We'd be up till, like, 6 in the morning, working on stuff," James says. "Now it's embarrassing if you listen to it. It's like, 'Oh, shit.' "
"That stuff is whack," Coleman says, "but it definitely showed that we had chemistry."
Coleman graduated from Raytown High School. James bounced from Rockhurst to Lincoln to Paseo. The two lost touch when Coleman went to college, first at the University of Central Missouri. "I partied a little too much," he says. He moved to the University of Missouri–Kansas City. "Did too much music," he says. "So I went to [Metropolitan Community College] Longview, and I actually got straight A's there, for some reason. So I went back to UMKC and then kind of stopped."
After high school, James was accepted into UMKC's Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He thought he was done making music, but he says it pulled him back. So he dropped out.
"My goal is to never go back to college and finish it," James says. "I'm very tunnel-visioned. If I don't have direction and I don't have a goal in sight, then I can be here, there and everywhere. Once I have tunnel vision, everything seems to make sense. When I'm focused on something — and it's something I love — it's pretty attainable."
About 18 months ago, Coleman and James reunited. They released a song in April 2011 called "I Won't Lose."
Coleman worked as a paid staffer for Sly James' mayoral campaign, and when he wasn't canvassing or working fundraisers, he cut a rhyme for his friend's dad. At the same time, Kyle James became Coleman's business manager, a job that reminded him how much he wanted to be onstage performing. James quit the job, and the two began making music again.
They take different approaches to what's in the music, though. James packs his lyrics with drug and alcohol references and sexual innuendo. Talk of partying and women, though, is less present on tracks like "Get Away" and "Make a Way," which he wrote two days after Williams was shot and killed.