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Meet Micah Bournes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Micah Bournes.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in Long Beach in the 90s. During that era, Long Beach had a whole slew of rappers reppin’ hard for the city. Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Warren G, Kurupt, those guys were my heroes. Hip-hop was my first language, but because of all the negative stereotypes connected to hip-hop, I didn’t recognize my love for rap music as an interest in something good, creative, or intelligent. I indulged hip-hop as a guilty pleasure.

I started writing rap lyrics my freshman year of college, and I was pretty good at it, but for whatever reason, I didn’t think of myself as a writer, I was rapping, not writing. Then halfway through college, a buddy of mine invited me to “Da Poetry Lounge” open mic in LA. I never really messed with poetry before that. I thought poetry was just Shakespeare or Emily Dickinson. But this was different, it was poetry, but it was a whole show too, it was theatrical. I had never seen spoken word poetry in person before, only on youtube. I went to this thing and there were folks of all ages and all backgrounds being honest in a room of complete strangers.

I was very stereotypically masculine back then, I seen brothas on stage spitting about their broken hearts and emotions and lack of confidence, but also being in love and cracking jokes. It was a place where I felt people were for real, taking their masks off and not being judged. In fact, folks were applauding the vulnerability. I was like, yo, if this is poetry, I dig this. I was so encouraged listening to other people stories, I knew I wanted to share mine. That night I decided to start writing spoken word poetry. I wasn’t thinking of it as a career move. I just wanted to participate in this dope community where you were allowed to be yourself.

From there I started writing and hitting up as many open mics as possible. Eventually, I gained the confidence to compete in poetry slams. I started winning competitions left and right. I was still writing rap lyrics as well but got more attention for my poetry.

Also, I finally realized and affirmed my love for hip-hop. As I learned more about poetry, it became clear that I didn’t know the terms before, but everything I loved about hip-hop was all the poetic devices is employed. I just would say, yo, she got the mad flow, but really meaning, I love the lyrical improvisation, or the alliteration, or the metaphors, the puns, the turn of phrase. I was like yo, I’ve dug poetry my whole life and didn’t realize it. And now, I’ve been a full-time artist for six years. I write in a lot of different genres. Blues, gospel, hip hop, pop, poetry. I write what comes to me.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Life is not a smooth ride for anyone, and being a vocational artist is one of the most challenging paths. You can work as hard as anyone, you can plan all you want, things will come up that you never saw coming, both for better and for worse. I’ve found that being able to adjust is more important than having a long-term plan.

Goals are great, but you gotta be prepared for opportunities that come before you feel ready. I’ve never felt ready for anything I’ve done, but I’ve done a lot of stuff, and some of it works, haaaa. I’m not afraid to fail. I’m not about foolishly rolling the dice all the time but you have to take calculated risks and you gotta know that you’re gonna fail more often than you win. That’s totally normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

Failure or victories, how do you adjust to the unexpected. I’ve knocked on so many doors that never opened, but my most significant movements forward came when the opportunity came out of the blue and I was ready for it even when I wasn’t expecting it.

Please tell us about Micah Bournes.
I’m most known as a spoken word poet, but I started out as a rapper and I most identify as a creative writer. I write in a lot of different genres, poetry, hip-hop, blues, folk, gospel, soul. I co-write with other artists. I think my versatility sets me apart. I’m always pushing myself. I don’t just stick with what I know. I have 4 albums out in 3 different genres. I have two poetry albums, a blues album and a hip-hop album.

I’m also currently working on a project that leans towards folk, so I’m all over the place, haaaaa. It can be a strength and a weakness. Sometimes it’s hard to focus, but it also puts me in relationships with a much broader creative community. I coulda just stuck with rappers or poets, but I’m so thankful to have friendships and collaborations with talented folks across so many genres.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite childhood memories are every time the Lakers won a championship haaaa.

My Pops is a Laker fanatic and passed it down to his children. The family room in my parent’s house is a shrine of purple and gold. I was really into sports before I got into the arts, and I still love the Lakers but I don’t watch sports much anymore. I only had room in my life to be fanatical about one thing. These days I spend all my time listening to albums and watching music videos and going to shows and creating stuff myself.

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