Blxst on Working with Nas, Next Album & Dream Collaborations
Blxst on Working with Nas, Next Album & Dream Collaborations
In the last several years, L.A. has seen a slew of outstanding painters break through, with our personal favorite, Blxst, leading the charge right now.
After years of self-releasing music and hustling through the sale of self-designed t-shirts and hoodies, everything came together in 2020 with the publication of his No Love Lost project. On the hook of Mozzy's song 'I Ain't Perfect,' I first heard about the South Central to the suburbs of the Inland Empire dwelling artist and almost couldn't believe how fantastic it was.
His team was thrilled to offer us a premiere of his 'No Emotions' video last May after seeing our outpouring of support at HHNM, and we were proud to be one of the first media outlets to partner with the great singer.
Blxst has a unique way of merging the classic West Coast Hip-Hop sound with soulful vocals that frequently remind you of the legendary Nate Dogg, with influences ranging from Jill Scott to Erykah Badu. What's even more astounding is that he creates the majority of his work himself.
Blxst has had an incredible year: his single "Overrated" was a radio hit, and No Love Lost has surpassed 250 million streams worldwide; he collaborated with indie king Russ and Drakeo the Ruler on his Just for Clarity EP; he was named a XXL Freshman for 2021; and he recently announced his first headlining No Love Lost tour.
To top it off, Blxst recently worked with Nas on the song "Brunch of Sundays," which is featured on his new album King's Disease 2. Blxst and I spoke a few days ago about how we got the chance to work with Nas, his upcoming next album, how he's getting ready for his tour, the unique nature of his music, dream collaborations, and more.
HHNM: Thank you for taking the time to do this.
Blxst: Without a doubt, man. You are aware of this. I've got to.
Yes, at long last. Last year, I was there for the online No Love Lost listening session. For a minute or so, we were connected there. So much has transpired since then, and my career has skyrocketed. But it's not surprising. 'Just watch out for this guy, man,' I was warning everyone. It's simply amazing music. I'm very glad to see where you've gotten to and to watch you grow.
Without a doubt, I appreciate your support and affection.
'Who's this guy?' I got multiple tweets, comments, and DMs about you when we aired the video for 'My Emotions' last May. 'Yo, this guy's insane,' I think to myself. During the zenith of the pandemic, Elliott Wilson was making a daily newsletter, and he had your name in it, like 'Nav got me on to Blxst,' which was insane to see.
People may believe it happened overnight, but you've been at it for a while and have put in the effort. Do you believe some individuals are unaware of this fact? Sometimes it appears as if you appeared out of nowhere.
Yeah. But, you know, it comes with it, right? When people assume everything happened overnight, I don't get offended since I know 10,000 hours was the reason I'm here now, just laying the basis before everything flowered. However, I appreciate it. Even when people acknowledge me, it is a reward in itself.
Right. No Love Lost was without a doubt one of the best projects of the previous year. Are you now working on a new record, a full-fledged studio album? So, what's the game plan?
I'm always working on something new. I'm in the studio right now, and it's my crib. For the most part, I'm preparing for the tour; my mind is on the road, trying to put on the best live No Love Lost show for the fans because I know how important that hands-on experience is. But, by the end of next year, I'd like to state that my next project is, without a doubt, yes.
Once you've finished the tour and everything, that's OK. I understand that traveling is critical for an artist like you who is just getting started and wants to create a core fan base across the country, so I know you're working hard. That's fantastic. Can you tell us about any potential partnerships for your album? Anything you'd like to say at this point.
Exactly. I mean, I didn't really rely on... it was no features for the most part, just like No Love Lost, the original edition. Of course, we added features to the deluxe. So I'm hoping to maintain that momentum with my next endeavor. I'm not planning on relying on features, but if anything comes to light, I'll be ready to go. But all I want to do is go in and tell my tale, and then whoever contributes to it will be in love.
Gotcha. Bino and you have a great chemistry. Sixtape 2 has a distinct L.A. summer vibe. How did you first become acquainted with him? The backstory is unknown to me. I understand he was Nipsey's man and everything, but how did you first contact with Bino for the original?
Bino was already a favorite of mine. He was jogging with Nipsey, and he came from the same umbrella as Nipsey. In the L.A. scene, I was more recognized as a producer. Kalan commissioned me to write and compose this song. 'Right With It,' a FrFr song, was quite popular on this side. When Bino heard that, he called Kalan and asked, "Yo, who manufactured that?" So Kalan and I swapped phone numbers, and that was the start of our relationship; at the time, I was simply sending Bino beats.
Okay, I've figured it out. Obviously, you produce a lot of your music yourself, which is incredible considering the quality. Were you constantly involved in production from the start? You originally wanted to be a producer before deciding to pursue a career as an artist? How did it turn out?
It was all happening at the same time. I began producing at the same time that I began composing music, but I was more strongly committed in the producer side simply because it was the first to catch on. But, you know, my artistry had caught up with me. It's now a one-two punch.
Right. One thing I'd been thinking about a lot was how you're a very fine combination of Hip-Hop and R&B, and it's difficult to put you in a box. I was looking over some of the GRAMMY categories and wondered if I should submit Blxst's project to the Hip-Hop or R&B categories. Because your project is labeled as Rap/Hip-Hop on DSPs, yet your core style is more R&B, akin to Nate Dogg. I'd been considering it, as if I were going to question Blxst himself. What are your thoughts on this?
That's a great question, man. Actually, I'm not sure. It's a particular area, and I understand what you're talking about; it's not too R&B, not too Hip-Hop, but just there in the middle. So I'm a little perplexed at times, as if I don't know how to classify myself (laughs).
Right. These classifications are made on paper, such as for the GRAMMYs and DSPs. It's a problem that may never go away because it's something that needs to be classified. It's apparent that hearing you on Nas' record is a dream come true. How did you make that connection?
So, that was a bit of a fluke. In Miami, I was working on the development of Sixtape 2. Hit-Boy, who is also the album's executive producer, had phoned me and said, "Nas just screamed you out on a song." 'What?' I'm thinking. I mean, how does Nas even know who I am?' So I return to Los Angeles and meet up with him at the studio. Nas is really humble; he is a Virgo like me, and he is very relaxed and laid back. He wrapped his arms around me. It was incredible to be surrounded by legends. It's incredible to be able to collaborate with him so early in my career.
So it was recently completed?
Yes, this happened recently.
Even the album announcement was unexpected. I know there was talk of a deluxe edition, but I think they went with a sequel rather than adding to the same album.
Right. I got to be on an album with Lauryn Hill, Charlie Wilson, and others...
Facts, to be sure.
You've definitely already worked with a few legends. Is there anyone else on your wish list with whom you'd like to collaborate on music? 'These are my dream collaborations,' you think of both artists and producers?
Absolutely. Pharrell, Kanye West, and DJ Quik are always on my mind. I'd like to collaborate with a group of originals, you know? Just to get that sauce, to close the distance, and to keep the legacy alive.
That should be a no-brainer for DJ Quik and Blxst.
Oh, that's a classic.
A tune that sounds like it belongs in California. Have you ever had someone come out to collaborate with you or admire your music and you thought to yourself, "dang, I can't believe this person heard my music?" Apart from Nas, who has previously been mentioned.
Yeah. A lot of people from Africa, in fact, have been tapping into that scene. Davido, Burna Boy, and I collaborated on a song with Tems. It's incredible to be recognized from such a remote part of the globe. So they are the ones that have recently tapped in.
That's incredible. You suggested going on a tour. Is this your first official tour?
What goes into planning a first-time tour like yours? Obviously, once you've done a few, you'll be familiar with the entire routine, such as 'I go into fitness, I get into practice,' and simply managing the stage, etc. How do you get ready for something like this from a layperson's perspective?
Yeah. I mean, I may be overthinking things, but I did hire a vocal coach. I'm currently training to improve my endurance. I've hired a musical director. I'm really hoping to deliver this experience to the audience in a way that they can enjoy it. I don't want to make a mistake, especially because this is my first time on the road, so I need to get it right.
Yes, of course. Is there going to be a live band?
So, this first one won't feature a live band, but it will include live components. I don't want to give up everything.
I understand a couple of instruments (laughs). We saw your work with Apple Maps and thought it was fantastic. Are you working on any other side projects that we might expect from you in the near future?
Slowly yet steadily I've recently been collaborating with Amazon Music. We recently completed the car wash and documentary release for Sixtape 2. We're just preparing more activations as I release more music, but there's always something planned.
Great. That concludes my questions for today, but it was an absolute pleasure finally speaking with you. I was planning on sending a request in November or December, but I decided against it and said, "no, I'll wait a little longer." I was thinking, 'When he's about to go on tour or something, then we can talk,' and I'm delighted we were able to do this. Thank you very much.
That is just stunning. With you, dude, it's always love. I notice you're putting in a lot of effort for me on Twitter, so this is fantastic (laughs).
(Laughs) The Mozzy feature was the first song I ever heard from you.
'I Ain't Perfect,' to be sure.
Yeah. I couldn't believe the tune when I first heard it; I was thinking, 'How is this even possible?' It gave me the chills, you know?
For real, that's dope.
I went straight to your catalog, thinking to myself, 'hey, this guy's insane.' The melodies are fantastic. It just so happened that your team noticed me tweeting about you, and they offered me a premiere of the "My Emotions" video. It seemed so natural, like when you fall in love with an artist and something like that happens and you form a bond with them. I wish you the best of luck. I appreciate you taking the time to respond; I know you're busy.
Without a doubt, guy. As you mentioned, I appreciate the organic affection. It feels natural when it's genuine and you genuinely enjoy the music, and I can tell you do, so I appreciate you sharing your platform as well.