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Blxst carries the torch for LA Hip-Hop, carries on Nipsey’s legacy

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Show and prove
Interview: Keith Murphy
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on the stands now.

It would be just too easy to categorize the 25-year-old Blxst as the latest song-rap product to get out of the west coast hip-hop scene. Instead, the sleepy-eyed 1990s baby, who has been compared to the late King of Hooks OG Nate Dogg and Platinum plus phenomenon Compton Roddy Ricch, is carving his own way. “The West Coast is really notorious for being gangsters,” says Blxst. “Now we are experimenting. We have fun with it. The South Central, Los Angeles-born artist is also a beatmaker, songwriter and sound engineer. Blxst’s first self-produced EP in 2020, No lost love, was followed by an expanded Deluxe Edition late last year, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart. He also racked up over 13 million Spotify streams of his mid-tempo come-on track “Chosen” with platinum players. Ty Dolla $ ign and Tyga, and co-signed by hip-hop mastodons J. Cole and Nas. “It’s not regular,” a humble Blxst says of Nas, dropping him on an upcoming song. “Even though I try to be humble about it, it’s hard to keep this. It’s enormous.”

However, music was not his first passion. At age 14, Blxst (pronounced Blast) was moved from the volatile surroundings of South Central by his worried mother to live in the laid-back suburb of Inland Empire in Southern California with his father. There he was engrossed in realizing his dream of becoming a world-class skateboarding pro. “I skateboarded for about two to three years, very heavy,” he recalls before laughing. “Then I broke my ankle. I stopped skating very quickly. “

Born Matthew Burdette, Blxst’s earliest rap memory was not revered West Coast heroes Dr Dre, Ice Cube or Snoop Dogg, but beloved Queens rap group A Tribe Called Quest. “My grandfather raps [‘Bonita Applebum’] for me just walking around the house, ”he remembers vividly when he knew hip-hop was for him.

The idea of ​​music becoming a serious career option seemed a long time ago until 11 years ago, when Blxst’s cousins ​​played him a song they had recorded themselves. “They inspired me to want to try the production,” he says. “I think what started it for me was how natural it was. The process of [making a track] was fun. It was like it was already in my DNA. I didn’t feel like I had to learn it … it was already going through me.

Born Matthew Burdette, Blxst’s earliest rap memory was not revered West Coast heroes Dr Dre, Ice Cube or Snoop Dogg, but beloved Queens rap group A Tribe Called Quest. “My grandfather raps [‘Bonita Applebum’] for me, just walking around the house, ”he remembers vividly when he knew hip-hop was for him.

The idea of ​​music becoming a serious career option seemed a long time ago until 11 years ago, when Blxst’s cousins ​​played him a song they had recorded themselves. “They inspired me to want to try the production,” he says. “I think what started it for me was how natural it was. The process of [making a track] was fun. It was like it was already in my DNA. I didn’t feel like I had to learn it … it was already going through me.

From there, Blxst imbibed recording techniques wherever he could find them. Most impactful, quite surprisingly, was a series of tutorial videos on YouTube from singer-producer Ryan Leslie, who built songs from scratch. Soon Blxst found himself hitting his own credits, turning heads in 2014, with Hitta J3’s “Do Yo Gudda”. His production of G’d up Cali helped propel the song into a local street anthem in LA. When it was time to do a remix, Compton, YG and Problem quickly jumped at the cut. Additionally, superstar Kendrick Lamar’s notable appearance also on the remix turned out to be a sign for Blxst that he was on the right track. “Yeah… that was heavy,” he rejoices in his once-in-a-lifetime experience working with the MC. “Kendrick is my favorite rapper of all time and he’s my sister’s favorite rapper. So it was huge.

Blxst, however, wasted no time basking in his sudden leap into the big leagues. In 2015, he took the step behind the boards with his solo single “Who would’ve Thought”, featuring a more vocal style. He stayed the course, but at the end of 2018 Blxst was at a pivotal point in a stalled career that was garnering mediocre success. He had a newborn son at the time, now 3 years old, and a dependent family. Either he was going to stick to the music or return to civilian life. “You get to that 10 year mark and you start to feel like, Damn, is this music thing for me?” Blxst remembers her struggles to get through. That same year, he also created his own independent label, Evgle.

Sixtape, his 2019 collaborative EP with fellow South Central Bino Rideaux, will prove to be the career-changing hiatus. The buzzing release caught the attention of Red Bull Records A&R team of Kenny Salcido and Charles Burks. They were bowled over by the contagious production and melodic lyricism of Blxst. Instead of signing him a standard recording contract, the label entered into an exclusive partnership with the ambitious visionary in 2020.

“It was important for him to have a say not only in how his music was created, but also how it was marketed,” said Greg Hammer, Managing Director of Red Bull Records. “He already had a great team around him … They were also a huge driver in the creation process.” Why did they sign it? “We like to align ourselves with artists who participate in the creation of their art,” adds Hammer. “We’re just happy to be there.” The union was fruitful. “Red Bull understood my vision,” echoes Blxst.

There were other fortuitous moments to come. When R&B singer-songwriter Justine Skye organically posted Blxst’s 2019 single “Hurt” to her Instagram account that same year, the song, with its deceptively melancholy groove and grim lyrics about a young artist navigating through a minefield of apathy, self-doubt and false friends, reassured him that a musical future was possible.

With the support of Red Bull Records, Blxst was finally able to translate his personal struggles of fractured childhood friendships and the slow elimination of a love affair into a conceptual video storyline for his melodic tracks “Overrated” , “Be Alone” and “Gang Slide”, As well as the “Pressure”, which contains a lot of bars, all presented on its No lost love EP and deluxe edition, released in September and December respectively. For all the critics claiming his music is sweet, Blxst, who says he invented his style because he hated his singing voice, has no excuse. “Women are the engines of culture,” said the rapper, who released his Just for clarity EP in March, is expected to drop the Sixtape sequel with Bino this spring or early summer and is already recording their next studio album, which will be released this fall. “Everything that women love men will follow.”

Even though he continues to make music that reaches a wide range of ears, he will never forget his debut. “I just want to dig deeper into who Blxst is and show that I’m ready to take the torch to LA,” the artist says. “I want to stand up for what we stand for … this integrity and carry on the legacy that Nipsey Hussle instilled in us.”

The Blxst marathon continues.

Learn more about XXLSpring 2021 issue, including Cardi B cover story, How? ‘Or’ What rappers are legally making money thanks to the cannabis boom and the social justice that goes with it, Damson Idris Snowfall on the impact of hip-hop on his life, A $ AP Ferg reflects on the creation of his Always strive and thrive album, Shelley FKA DRAM speaks his return, Trippie Redd explains how Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert helped change hip-hop, Show & Prove with 42 Dugg and Lakeyah and more.

See Cardi B’s XXL Spring 2021 Magazine Cover Story Photo shoot

Cardi B covers the Spring 2021 issue of XXL magazine.





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