James Owens, aka Runt of the Jivin Scientists, has been making music in Tucson for close to a decade. The prolific MC has shared the stage with Atmosphere, Kool Keith and 2mex, among others, and currently has five albums in circulation, with two more on the way. Offstage, Runt plays the role of a mild-mannered coffee clerk at Gloria Jean's Coffee at the Tucson Mall.
What was the first concert you ever saw?
Boyz II Men and Brandy at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M. I was 12 and had never seen so many women in my life. I have loved live shows since.
What CDs are in your changer right now?
Cage, Depart From Me; Goodie Mob, Soul Food; 8bit Cynics, Dipsomaniac II; Do or Die, Picture This.
How many total albums do you own (CDs, vinyl, cassettes, 8-tracks)?
I make music, so I have stacks of unlabeled CDs with one or two songs on each one—millions of songs just laying around. It's a bit overwhelming.
Do you download music, and if so, legally or illegally?
I download a lot, and most of it is legit. Music should be free; we just haven't reached a point where it's possible to do that and cover the artists' costs.
What was the first album you owned?
Young MC, Stone Cold Rhymin'. That thing still gives me chills.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
"Short People" by Randy Newman says it all.
Musically speaking, what do you love that your friends don't know about? What's your favorite guilty pleasure?
This is a hard one, because I'm going to catch heck from friends, but I really like Vanessa Carlton's new stuff, Heroes and Thieves.
What band or artist changed your life, and how?
Too $hort made me want to make music; Slug (of Atmosphere) made it OK for me to make music.
Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?
James Brown, Sex Machine. If you don't love life after that album, then you might be dead.