YOUNG XAV follows up and comes through on his music video promise! His first release of the year, KISS KISS BANG BANG, covers the feelings of heart break in relationships; a culmination of all his personal experiences regarding love connections in one song. Ever Evolved got to interview YOUNG XAV about the significance of the new release, noting a change in direction of sound moving forward. The music video itself montages his different experiences with different women, his own lyrics expressed through their lips, creating an atmosphere of tension. The video also features behind the scenes shot, before and after the making of the visuals, giving viewers a peak into the creative process that went into KISS KISS BANG BANG.
Having the opportunity to sit down with YOUNG XAV for an interview, there are a few things to learn about this up and coming artist! First introduced to his music with the release of AFTER DARK, you would instantly notice there is more to this artist than just the music. He has a story to tell! Breaking down a little bit of his creative process, we also get an idea of the direction YOUNG XAV is going with, regarding his current and newer music entries.
Making music since 2017, it was not until the release of AFTER DARK that he decides to take on the hobby more seriously. When asked what his purpose is behind his music, YOUNG XAV responds with, “I think just narrative driven, that’s my thing. I can’t make music if I’m not living life… Big thing for me, is to tell what I have to feel… Cheaper than a shrink. Sometimes expensive.” Noting that relate-ability is key in the messages he conveys to his audience.
In regards to how YOUNG XAV gets comfortable expressing his vulnerabilities, he responds with, “Thing is I never created something where it’s like, wow, I’m literally exposing myself. When it comes to my friends I keep things very tight nit, I keep things very closed, but my music contradicts that. If you want to know about me, for better or for worse, you can hear my music. It’s therapeutic. It translates to something different. It’s never been difficult to deal with that vulnerability.” As you listen to his songs from AFTER DARK and the following, you will notice a deep sense of introspection within each track. Whether it is personal or involving relationships.
Out with a new release, his new tune KISS KISS BANG BANG is no exception. In the song he confides to his listeners about heartbreak and the emotional trauma connected. However the difference with KISS KISS BANG BANG and other heart break songs like IN MY HEAD, YOUNG XAV would say it is more of a culmination of thought about all his past relationships, and not specific to a single individual. When asked how he gets through heart break, he simply says, “I write a song about it, and if that doesn’t work, make more music.”
KISS KISS BANG BANG also represents a new direction of sound YOUNG XAV mentioned with his last release, MANIA FREESTYLE. Preparing for his next big release, his 2nd album, DEAD BY DAWN, ready for an October 1st release date. YOUNG XAV notes, “KISS KISS BANG BANG is the perfect bridge, if I released certain songs in DEAD BY DAWN it would sound like an entire 180. So I think with releasing kiss bang bang, instead of being a shocker, it’s more of a bridge.” Specifically, YOUNG XAV, plans to experiment past the genre of hip hop and rap that he has been used to, and into more melodic sounds and singing, live instrumentation as well as dipping into lo-fi, jazz and rock genres.
When asked why the new take on his music, YOUNG XAV responds with great insight. “It’s crucial to story telling. There’s certain stories you can tell in genre of rap, then there is certain stories you can’t. In terms of genres I don’t think about them as categories that define an artist… But instead more of which genre can I use, which tools can I use to best explain how I feel.” Very thoughtful perception to take in as you listen to his songs moving forward! The story for KISS KISS BANG BANG is not over just yet, as YOUNG XAV also plans for a music video release, on the 29th of January. So stay tuned for visuals coming up very soon, as he prepares you his next big LP, DEAD BY DAWN related in concept to AFTER DARK.
YOUNG XAV is back with a new project for his fans. With the release of MANIA, the Chicago artist announces a new artistic direction to follow up on. Being known on the mic for his hip hop lyricism, YOUNG XAV decides MANIA to be his last project to be completely influenced by rap and hip hop. With that he also announces more new music for the new year, so it should be interesting to find out what his newer style will sound like. Judging from his interview with Greg McDonald, it sounds like he may be leaning towards a favored genre of his, rock music!
MANIA is short and sweet, containing just 3 tracks, one being a freestyle to start off the EP! “If I should die tonight best believe I lived my best one. Thought my last drop was fire, shit, wait til the next one. Everything I touch Murder it, we leave it REDRUM.” In his short 3 year career as an artist YOUNG XAV has so far released a handful of singles and projects, starting with his BESIDE THE DYING FIRE EP, to his debut LP AFTER DARK, followed up by a few loosies. MANIA shows a great growing confidence in XAVs character, a bridge to a more matured sound and expression, not diluting his presentation with the superficial, but acknowledging everything that makes him and what you heard in his debut AFTER DARK. This growing character is even more evident within the first lines of ROLLING STONE, getting us prepared for whats to come, “Addressing myself, all the issues in play. My problems, I pen em’, I stock em. Jay Gatsby by day, but at night I’m Bruce Wayne, The new face of Gotham.”
Fresh off the release of his debut album After Dark, Young XAV is striking the iron while it is hot with his new single Ways to Die. In some ways this track serves as a logical continuation of what made After Dark so great. XAV is teetering on the edge of sanity on this track as he is once again baring the brunt of the rock-star lifestyle he constantly finds himself enveloped in. His lyrics are introspective, dark and vivid in scope. However the difference now is that XAV sounds more convincing than ever driving home his narratives of reckless abandon.
XAV’s delivery is more confident, his wordplay coming off as more poignant and witty. He is coming into his own more and more with each release. The picture XAV paints on this track is a dangerous duality between stopping at nothing to chase your dreams and the dangerous consequences that can come with that. XAV sees dollar signs and will stop at nothing to cash in, even if it means succumbing to vice in the process.
The instrumental is intimidating as it is bleak in tone, possessing the same self-destructive vibe that XAV portrays in his lyrics. This makes for a very moody listen. Whether this track marks the next chapter in the After Dark show remains to be seen. XAV does have a follow up album in the works that he says he is taking his time on. If Ways to Die is a teaser towards a new album it seems like the Dark Knight himself has something big in store.
Ways to Die is now streaming on all platforms.
Ever since he was a young kid growing up on Chicago’s Southwest side rapper YOUNG XAV has always possessed an unusually high degree of intelligence. He says he taught himself computer coding when he was in the 6th grade. He also stated that later on, he taught himself graphic design and video editing as well. In casual conversation, XAV is poignant and well spoken. He leaves no stone un-turned when getting his points across and is very expressive about his goals, ambitions and thoughts about the world around him.
Like a lot of brilliant people, XAV spent a lot of time on his own growing up. Stating he was bullied a lot, XAV had trouble making friends and says he even transferred schools five times as a direct result. However all of this time spent on his own served as the breeding ground for the intense introspection that has become a defining characteristic of who he is as an artist- More on that later.
Much like his rare level of intelligence it is easy to see where his musical roots stem from. His father was a DJ growing up and he says that music had always played one role or another in his life. XAV says some of most vivid memories from childhood were listening to early Eminem records on car rides with his mom which led to him discovering other artists such as 50 Cent and Dr. Dre.
XAV attended high school at Muchin College Prep in Downtown Chicago and he says it is here that he really found his place. He says it was here where he discovered his love of attention, stating he would go far as to campaign for his birthday; meaning that he would talk to as many people as possible in an effort to get as many happy birthdays as he possibly could. After graduation XAV attended Tribeca College in Downtown Chicago to study Film, leaving after a year when he realized it was not what he wanted to do. It was right around this time where XAV started to pursue a career in music.
After dropping a series of singles as well as an EP XAV decided that he wanted to get more serious with his craft. He came up with the idea that he wanted to throw a show and says he worked nonstop for two weeks selling tickets, promoting the show and even making an intro trailer for it. The final product was the After Dark Show which XAV says was a big success. After the show was over XAV was asking himself what he wanted to do next. He decided he was going to start working on his next EP. Despite wanting to make another short project the final product came to be something much greater than anything XAV could have realized or hoped for.
What came of it was XAV’s debut full-length studio album After Dark which is a 15-song time capsule documenting XAVs’ experiences over the most trying sixth month period of his entire life. Over the course of these 15 songs XAV puts his struggles with substances, heartbreak and depression on full display for the whole world to see. He conveys a stunning amount of honesty in his bars, getting more personal than a lot of artists are willing to go.
From the very beginning the album has a very cinematic feel. The intro track features an energetic brass section and planking pianos as well as a car revving up and driving away. It really feels like the opening scene to a movie. XAV views this album as cyclical and that he structured the songs in a way that would resemble a heavy night of drinking followed by the morning after. Early in the album on cuts such as Sinners and Life is Grand XAV is living the rockstar lifestyle, musing on misadventures with alcohol and women. However this is presented simultaneously with the consequences of his actions as cuts such as After Dark and Still Alive explore the dark side of substance abuse and excessive indulgence in an effort to escape ones demons.
XAV does a beautiful job painting a full picture of what it is like for one to be drowning in their own vices. A true highlight on the album arrives with the Dear You interlude and the following track Dancing in the Dark. These two tracks see XAV coming off as apologetic and remorseful for past mistakes towards an ex-lover as well as addressing his general experiences with love up to this point in his life. XAV has described this part of the album as the part in the night when one is drunk and in their feels. However this sentimentality of these two tracks is abruptly followed by the track On the Low, a banger of a track featuring more themes of vice and excess.
The back end of the album features more moments of introspection from Xav. The 12th track Chasing Dreams finds XAV contemplating his current place in the rap game and dreaming of one day rising to the top. XAV describes this track as the thoughts of somebody sitting drunk and alone in a bar at 4 am dreaming of better days. The 14th track Til Dawn is a beautiful meditation on the relationship between XAV and his mother. The track has a nostalgic ring to it and really is a beautiful moment on the album.
After Dark closes out with the song Road to Legend which sees XAV reflecting on more past experiences and coming grips with where he is currently at in his life. XAV views this track as the sun rising after a long night and coming back down to earth to face the reality that awaits. Aforementioned, After Dark has a very thematic feel to it throughout its duration. Everything is concise and orderly. XAV pulled together a sequence of tracks that truly tell a powerful story. For him to be so young yet able to pull together a conceptual project like After Dark is a true sign of the intelligence he possesses.
Today XAV is a lot more extroverted than that young kid who used to sit on his computer all day. However it is clear that XAV got to know himself quite well during that time as introspection and taking self-inventory are a big part of what makes his album work so well. Despite finding a sense of contentment at the end of the After Dark XAV is still far from the finish line. He is now waking up to the sun in his eyes that is his own brutal reality. However the LP gives you a sense that he is now inviting the suns daunting rays into his soul with open arms.
These days YOUNG XAV is only focused on whatever comes next. He has found closure in the mistakes of his past, now looking forward with two feet in front of him. He says he is solely focused on promoting his album which has done quite well and is now past a hundred thousand streams. He is also planning his next album which he says will be entitled Dead by Dawn and that it will be tied back to After Dark in some way. He says he has not started work for this project yet and that there is no timetable for its release date. If it is every bit as tight and conceptual as After Dark, rest assured that it will be worth the wait.
After Dark is now available on all platforms.
“The pain lets me know I’m still alive.“
These are the words so beautifully belted out by singer Adam Martinez on the hook of Still Alive, the fourth track off of Chicago MC YOUNG XAV‘s upcoming album entitled After Dark. Although this project cannot be boiled down to just a few words, that lyric serves as a good blueprint for the emotional head space XAV finds himself in throughout the duration of this project. After Dark is a gloomy, lonely trip inside the mind of an individual who has fallen off a mountain of sanity. However the album’s progression marks the story of that same individual getting up, brushing the dust off their clothes, and clawing their way back up to the top.
The cinematic opening track, which is entitled Intro, pulls the listener in from the very beginning. This song sees XAV lose his sense of self identity laying the path for him to find himself all over again. The beat is heroic and empowering as light, feathery piano motifs are sprinkled over a loud, barreling brass section. Lyrically XAV seems to be succumbing to his inner demons on the first half of the album. On cuts such as After Dark and Still Alive XAV paints his struggles with alcoholism, using it as a coping mechanism to silence the demons in his head. The beats on these tracks are dark and moody, and they serve as the perfect complement to the on-the-edge-of-insanity tone of XAV’s lyrics.
The middle of the album is a bit more turnt up, as tracks such as Another Drink and Blaśe are straight up bangers. However the cloud of darkness present earlier in the album still looms close behind. These songs illustrate the dichotomy of drinking to partying while simultaneously not being able to control oneself and XAV does does a beautiful job of painting a vivid portrait of what that looks like.
The interlude track Dear You is another standout on this album and it is a beautiful spoken word piece; seemingly serving as an ode to a lover from years’ past. It transitions seamlessly into the next track Dancing in the Dark, which finds XAV pondering what him and this former flame could have been. For XAV heartbreak is something that consumes his entire being, and he is able to portray that pain in his music with ease.
The back end of this album serves as an indicator that XAV will not go down without a fight. On the song Chasing Dreams XAV speaks on his ambitions to get to the top. The closing track Road to Legend finds XAV reflecting on the people who have come in and out of his life, as well as the changes his life has undergone. As an album After Dark really shines due to the fact that YOUNG XAV is more in touch with his head space than most rappers. Whether he is speaking on his struggles with addiction, heartbreak or his hunger to succeed in music, XAV does a brilliant job of illustrating where he is at mentally.
XAV has not reached the top of the cliff yet, it seems as though he is still clawing his way towards happiness and contentment. His demons might still haunt him from time-to-time, but that does not mean that he is going to let them win. And that is a predicament that almost all of us will find ourselves in at one point or another.
After Dark will be released to all platforms on February 22nd.
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