At just 20 years old, Lakeville rapper ’XW xman’ is going old-man Logan on the 612 Hip-Hop scene.
The scariest part? He only started harnessing his powers this last year…
With his commanding cadence, studious work ethic, and beat-butchering flow, ‘x-man’ claws through tracks like a pissed-off Wolverine.
Originally from St. Louis, the track-thumping poet has asserted himself in short order here in the Twin Cities, sporting collabs with local stars Seep as well as our very own Treyson Green.
In this WaterWaveTV exclusive interview, we’ll see just how this Hip-Hop antihero went from class clown to Professor Xavier‘s brightest pupil...
How did your initial love of Hip-Hop spark you to start creating on your own?
About 2 years ago, one of my good homies had his own home studio, and he knew I fucked with rap, so he invited me to come spit at his crib, no pressure. I remember he had a studio in his bedroom, so that more relaxed environment made rapping seem more accessible than I thought it was before. My first time was shaky though, no doubt; I had no idea what I was doing! I couldn't stay on beat or even flow right, but my homie always said I had potential though, and I rode his confidence in me a lot in the early parts of my career.
At what point did the craftsmanship take hold of the simple status of being a rapper?
Honestly, it wasn't until last year until I started really taking this rap shit seriously. Granted, I’ve only been doing it 2 years, but still. One time, I overheard my dad saying that nobody in our family has 'made it out the hood' so to speak. From there, I’ve been all in on music. I'm a huge family man cause they always give me the love and energy I need.
If you got one song with any artist of your choice, which artist are you picking and what kind of vibe are you going for?
NLE Choppa for sure. We’re going with a banging, trap anthem for the vibe. His energy is a huge inspiration. His switch-up from flex rapping to sometimes spiritual, more thoughtful type shit is hella powerful. I think NLE has evolved a lot as an MC since he started out.
When it comes to your earth-thumping cadence, was that always how you rapped or did it develop over time?
Definitely something I had to develop over time, but I knew it when I found it. As of now, I’ve never been more comfortable with my style, which gives me more freedom and confidence than I’ve ever had before in my own sound.
Has your songwriting process evolved over time?
I've always been a big writer, so I used to hear a beat and immediately try and ride on top of it. However, now when I rap, I always look for the melody first. Once I find the hook, I switch between playing the whole beat through on repeat and just going 4 bars at a time. If it's truly a banger, you'll feel it right away; at which point the track really guides you if you listen to what the music actually needs.
What's an overlooked detail between an amateur and professional beat?
I'm a big drum guy, so I’ve always had a thing for strong 808s. It's gotta have some punch to it, you know? Lil Baby is a great example of the type of sounds that I gravitate towards.
Starting out, were there any internal battles you had to overcome to be where you’re at today?
When I first started, everybody was clowning me, shitting on my music whatnot. Like I said though, One of my older producer friends would go to bat for me, always speaking to the potential he saw in me from the jump.
Nowadays, the same people who clowned me will hit me up all the time it seems like, telling me that they were wrong about me, hella impressed, blah, blah, blah, I always knew I had it, so their opinions are really just noise. But hey, I still appreciate the love!
What's your favorite track that you've recorded?
Definitely my latest track ‘Winnin’ for sure. Hook is tight, beat goes hard, and I meant everything I said on that shit. No coincidence that my most played track is also my most recent…
‘Winnin’ by XW xman on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/28pQI3uEcQJ6SGIZFacAiX?si=hAZh0BjSRt2khCaUHtOr6Q
What's the biggest difference between a couch artist and someone who's actually about it?
It all boils down to your standards. There's a fine line between dropping consistently and rushing shit music out the door just to say you did something. The true masters are laser-focused on their craft, always fine-tuning their lyrics, flow, cadence, etc. Attention to detail is everything.
What's your ideal creative setup?
No one in the studio but me and the producer. I prefer the lights off as well. It’s all about staying focused, being in the zone, and eliminating any and all distractions. It's 'go mode' when I'm there. I'll save my partying for the club!
How do you approach creativity with your music videos?
Man, I love video shoots. All of mine have been shot by my boy Colin. It's crazy because we both watched each other get better at our respective crafts with each and every video. That's the type of shit I live for, just two young creatives sharpening their swords. The beauty of it is that Collin and I’s creative chemistry always reflects in the end product.
At what point did the therapeutic quality of rap supersede the initial clout that draws a lot of young artists in?
Around the time I started making music, I was going through shit and I didn't know what else to do besides hop on a track. For a long time my Instagram bio, was 'Music is my Medicine'. You hear it all the time, but music really is therapy!
How did you end up tapping in with WaterWave?
So I actually shot a video with Treyson Green, and not long after ended up meeting Ricky. From there, I got a flavor for what y’all did and I really fucked with it. Y’all are just out here hustling, always running shows, and giving local talent a platform. That‘s what it’s all about!
Where do you see the rest of 2021 going in terms of your energy?
Definitely tapping into the local scene here; keep linking with creative outlets like you guys, hustling, meeting people, all with the goal of making it out.
Also, further down the line, I have no intention of signing with a major label. Those situations are just notoriously fishy, so I'm beyond content to do shit my own way. Tory Lanez and Lil Uzi are some unfortunate real-life examples not of of how dangerous labels are, but how sketchy they very well can be. I just hate the idea of not being able to drop my own music when I want.
Sure, there are perks that come with it, but I value my own independence too much. Maybe that changes, but it's hard for me to imagine ever going back on such a key value of mine like my own creative freedom.
If you haven’t already, be sure to tap into XW-xman now on all streaming platforms!
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✍️ by Cameron Hernandez