Blxst Carries Torch for L.A. Hip-Hop, Continues Nipsey's Legacy

xxlmag May 17, 2021 Blxst 119
Blxst Carries Torch for L.A. Hip-Hop, Continues Nipsey's Legacy

In the Spring 2021 issue, XXL speaks to rapper Blxst about repping West Coast hip-hop while carving out his own lane, continuing Nipsey Hussle's legacy and more.

Show & Prove Interview: Keith Murphy Editors Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now. It would simply be too easy to categorize 25-year-old Blxstas the latest rapping-singing product to break out of the West Coast hip-hop scene Instead, the sleepy-eyed 1990s baby, who has been compared to late O.G. hook king Nate Dogg and platinum-plus Compton phenom Roddy Ricch, is carving out his own lane. The West Coast is really known for being gangsters, Blxst says. Now, we are experimenting. We are having fun with it. The South Central, Los Angeles-born artist is also a beatmaker, songwriter and sound engineer. Blxsts self-produced, 2020 debut EP, No Love Lost, was followed by an expanded deluxe edition late last year, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart. Hes also racked up over 13 million Spotify streams of his mid-tempo come-on track Chosen featuring platinum players Ty Dolla $ignand Tyga and garnered cosigns by hip-hop behemoths J. Coleand Nas Thats not regular, a humble Blxst says of Nas name-dropping him on an upcoming song. As much as I try to be humble about it, its hard to keep that in. Thats big. Yet, music was not his first passion. At age 14, Blxst (pronounced Blast) was moved out of the volatile surroundings of South Central by his concerned mother to live in the laid-back suburbs of Southern Californias Inland Empire with his dad. There he was consumed with fulfilling his dream of becoming a world-class skateboarding pro. I was skateboarding for about two to three years, very heavy, he recalls before laughing. Then I broke my ankle. I stopped skateboarding real fast. Born Matthew Burdette, Blxsts earliest memory of rap was not revered West Coast heroes Dr. Dre, Ice Cube or Snoop Dogg, but beloved Queens rap group A Tribe Called Quest. My grandpa would rap to me just walking around the house, he vividly remembers of the moment he knew that hip-hop was meant for him. The idea of music becoming a serious career option seemed remote until 11 years ago, when Blxsts cousins played him a song they had recorded themselves. They inspired me to want to try production, he says. I think what sparked it for me was how natural it was. The process of was fun. It was as if it was in my DNA already. It didnt feel like I had to learn it...it was already channeling through me. Born Matthew Burdette, Blxsts earliest memory of rap was not revered West Coast heroes Dr. Dre, Ice Cube or Snoop Dogg, but beloved Queens rap group A Tribe Called Quest. My grandpa would rap to me just walking around the house, he vividly remembers of the moment he knew that hip-hop was meant for him. The idea of music becoming a serious career option seemed remote until 11 years ago, when Blxsts cousins played him a song they had recorded themselves. They inspired me to want to try production, he says. I think what sparked it for me was how natural it was. The process of was fun. It was as if it was in my DNA already. It didnt feel like I had to learn it...it was already channeling through me. From there, Blxst soaked up recording techniques wherever he could find them. Most impactful, surprisingly enough, was a series of YouTube tutorial videos by singer-producer Ryan Leslie, who constructed tracks from scratch. Soon, Blxst found himself landing his own credits, turning heads in 2014, with Hitta J3s Do Yo Gudda. His Gd up Cali production helped propel the song to become a local L.A. street anthem. When it was time to do a remix, Compton standouts YG and Problem promptly jumped on the cut. Plus, the conspicuous appearance of superstar Kendrick Lamar also on the remix proved to be a sign for Blxst that he was on the right path. Yeah...that was heavy, he glows of his experience working with the once-in-a-lifetime MC. Kendrick is my all-time favorite rapper and hes my sisters favorite rapper. So that was big. Blxst, however, didnt waste any time basking in his sudden leap to the big leagues. In 2015, he made the move from behind the boards with his solo single Who Wouldve Thought, showcasing a more sing-song style. He stayed on his grind, but by late 2018, Blxst was at a pivotal point in a stalled career that was reaping middling success. He had a newborn son at the time, now 3, and family to look after. Either he was going to stick with music or go back to civilian life. You get to that 10-year mark and you start to feel like, Damn, is this music thing meant for me? Blxst recalls of his struggles to cut through. That same year, he also established his own independent label, Evgle. Sixtape, his 2019 collaborative EP with fellow South Central rhymer Bino Rideaux, would prove to be the career-altering break he needed. The buzz-heavy release captured the attention of Red Bull Records A&R team of Kenny Salcido and Charles Burks. They were floored by Blxsts infectious production and melodic lyricism. Instead

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