LA crooner Blxst: “No matter how ‘soft’ I may be in the music, I’ve still got a lil hood in me”
Skyrocketing to the top of your R&B playlists, LA crooner Blxst (pronounced Blast) delivers summery hits filled with vulnerability — but don’t test his gangster; he’s still a South Central dude through and through. Captivating fans in the US and now overseas with the fan favourite ‘Got It All’ featuring rapper Dom Kennedy (“the epitome of LA”, according to Blxst) from his debut mixtape ‘No Love Lost’ – a web of sultry yet emotional tracks you’d happily get tangled in – it seems like 2021 is the start of something for the 20-something year old.
Given that he’s one of the very few male LA singers to get a glimpse at the mainstream right now, NME talked to Blxst about his mixtape, his hobbies, and the future for the budding new star.
Hey Blxst! How are things?
“I do a lot of music at the crib anyway, and I like being at home, so I love [lockdown]. I’ve been good, actually. When I’m bored, I’m really heavy into videogames, and I’ve been trying to get back into skateboarding too. I’m not the next Tony Hawk; I’ve got a lot to catch up on. I’ve been playing Call Of Duty and NBA 2K — I’m actually working on a song for 2K. I can’t say much about it but it’s a collab. It’s not about having music on the game. It’s a little bigger and deeper than that.”
‘No Love Lost’ took off astronomically, didn’t it?
“It’s been overwhelming. I just put music out from my bedroom and I’m a new artist so the reception is crazy. My favourite song is ‘Forever Humble’ from the deluxe version. Whether it’s EPs or mixtapes, I just want my music to have themes. All my favourite albums when I was younger had themes and told stories, so I wanted to do that too. The way Kanye West had the series: The College Dropout, Graduation – the way they led into each other. I want to recreate that.”
‘Hurt’ is so powerful. What was your mental state while writing it?
“Man, I was hurt! That’s the gist of it. I was going through a transition of having my first son and falling out with friends. At the time, I was in a fucked-up financial situation where I didn’t know what my future looked like. So I was just expressing how I felt; the betrayal from my friends, feeling like there was nowhere to turn. I felt like I was at a dead-end.”
As you worked through all these feelings, does the title, ‘No Love Lost’, represent the conclusion you came to?
Yeah. That’s a good way to look at it. I saw this as a conclusion to my thoughts like, ‘I’m closing the book and starting a new chapter for myself.’ I have to be selfish to finish this journey I started for myself. At the end of the day, some people understand that, some don’t. But at the end – no love lost.
You rap sometimes as well as a sing – do you consider yourself a rapper?
“I consider myself a singer as much as people consider me a singer because I still have lyrical content within my music. I also have an alter-ego where I can go bar-for-bar, but me rapping is for the sport of it because I love hip-hop, but I’m in love with melodies.”
Given that you’re from LA, your music’s bound to have great melodies…
“Yeah, being from LA, it’s in our DNA. But I don’t feel like I have to. You know LA comes from a gangster era, so it’s all about talking the most shit on a track. I don’t know the formula to it but it’s rare to be able to [make emotional, gangster-y songs]. I’m appreciative that I’m able to create my own lanes and do that. I think that it’s me being myself that does it. People rock with authenticity. Everybody in LA has a lil’ hood in them. No matter how ‘soft’ I may be in the music, I’ve still got a lil’ hood in me.”
Do you agree that there aren’t that many singers coming out of LA right now – and if so, why do you think that is?
“I think there’s a small pot of singers out of LA. We’ve got Ty Dolla $ign, but that’s probably the only one on a mainstream level. When you’re clubbing and stuff, you don’t wanna hear all that slow shit. You wanna turn up. I feel like we have to find a perfect blend of the two worlds. But there are a few up-and-coming singers like Kalen Allen and Bino Rideaux who carry melodies in their music.
[Bino Rideaux and I] have [our 2019 mixtape] ‘Sixtape’ together, of course. We’re working on number two right now. When we dropped the ‘Sixtape’ and it caught fire, so many people are tweeting every day, ‘Do a part two!’, so we’re doing it for the fans.“
Did you always make music in your bedroom?
“Yeah, that’s how I got into [music]. Just myself in my room teaching myself how to do it, watching YouTube videos on how to record and make beats. I just fell in love with the learning process. I was fresh out of high school, so [was] like 17, learning to make music.
“As a kid, the first rappers I saw were my uncle and sister. They introduced me to the art of it, and I always looked up to them. Then later down the line, I was in a clique: my friends and my cousins formed a clique where they recorded music out of their bedrooms. That was the first time I saw it was possible to do it yourself, and pretty much inspired me to write on my own and invest in my own equipment. The first thing I got was a Rock Band microphone from the pawn shop…”
Are you already working on your next record?
“Absolutely! I’m always working, you know, staying in the house. Now, I’m working toward my next full-length project – I don’t have a name for it yet but I’m working on it. First and foremost, it’s going to be bigger than ‘No Love Lost’; just bigger music. I want to have live instruments and other musicians, producers. For ‘No Love Lost’, I did all the production on it and was the only artist on there [the Deluxe version featured Ty Dolla $ign and Bino Rideux, among others). I just really want to get it on lock and be better. This is going to be my debut album; I want to showcase different sides of me. I don’t want to box myself in as this emotional dude.”
Do you have any nerdy things that no one knows about?
“I like graphic design. All of my artwork – I did that. If you look on Spotify, Apple Music, I made all of them. Also, if someone sends me a flyer, I’d remake them. I love to do as much as I can creatively. I’ve not been making specifically graphic art in quarantine, maybe a little project from time to time, but that’s only if I get bored.”
What’s the future of Blxst?
“Except for new music, I’m really looking forward to executive-producing other artists’ music and bringing others around me up. I feel like that’s what my legacy will be; helping as many people as I can. I have a company called Evgle right now and I’m scouting for new artists and producers to join the camp. I’m going to start small and grow from there. I’m not really tapped in with the UK – the only people I’m tapped in with is [London R&B collective] WSTRN. We’ve got a song coming out and it’s fire too. It’s a mix of like afro-R&B. It’s not too whiny, though – you could definitely hear it in the club.”
– Blxst’s ‘No Love Lost’ is out now