The Break Presents: Levi Carter
Virginia is a hotbed for young talent in hip-hop. There's 300 Entertainment's DP, then there's Epic Records newest collective Divine Council and now we have recently signed Roc Nation artist Levi Carter. The 22-year-old rapper, who reps Virginia by way of the South Bronx, turned heads when he dropped his debut project, Antisocial, in February. After showing off his skills on XXL two months later, Levi became an artist to watch. Now the rhyme-slinger is looking to take things to the next level with a new project that he's currently working on.
"For the rest of the year I got Made in America Festival, I got a couple of different shows and right now I’m working on a project," he tells XXL. "It’s already in the route to be finished, we just got a couple of things to add on it. That’s the biggest thing next because that’s going to be the project that’s going to break me out of everything. First it was Antisocial, next its going to be this. I’m going to finish this project and feed it to the people."
With Jay Z and company behind him, a strong internet presence plus a versatile style, Levi is looking to capitalize on his talent in 2016. He just released his new EP, Presence of a Lord, and he's set to perform at Made in America on the Tidal Stage next week (Sept 3). Here's the 411 on the Mr. Carter.
Name: Levi Carter
Hometown: The Bronx
I grew up listening to: "I grew up listening to Jay Z. My family is West Indian, [my father is] from Brooklyn and being I am from the Bronx, my mom was into the industry too, the only rapper my dad would ever play was Hov, Jadakiss. I grew up listening to them and Juelz Santanna, mainly New York guys. I didn’t really start to branch out until I got older. Than when I moved to Virginia, that’s when I started hearing about folks like Jeezy, Boosie BadAzz and Lil Wayne too. [Wayne] is definitely one of my favorite rappers of all-time.
"I always loved music. I always loved playing with music but never had the right guidance. My mom used to push me to do it but it wasn’t time yet, mentally-wise. I was more into doing dumb shit and not really being focused. I could write all day. I used to take nothing to class but my composition notebook. No book bag, no nothing. When the teacher talking, I hear the beats. I didn’t start getting serious until like six, seven months ago. My homeboy died at Virginia State and after he died, I got into my own little slump and I dropped out of Norfolk State. My cousin Frenchie called me and said, 'Yo, you not doing shit bro, I know you over there getting better with the music. You need to push it and get back to that. You can’t just be sitting there doing nothing.' The scene is wide open. He was just like, 'Yo if you’re going to do it, you need to do it right now.' That’s what turned it on for me. My mom she always been on top of me but I never started anything and finished it. This is like the first time I’m really doing that."
Most people don’t know: "I can make real music. Right now [hip-hop] is full of people that may last, that may not. Right now, I got the ability to dip in and out. When people hear 'XXL' they hear that. That’s probably the main focus right now, making real music and letting people know I can really do this."
My style’s been compared to: "I get compared to Shy Glizzy, I don’t understand that one. I guess it’s the voice. I get compared to Kodak Black. I don’t think I sound like anybody. I think I’m very well into my own lane."
My standout records or moments to date have been: "My favorite song so far is ‘XXL.’ That was a moment for me as well because of the timing, the way it was structured. That was my first time I actually had something premiered. I dropped it on Beats Radio and Vice. That was a moment for me because I was actually in the middle of watching me rise up and seeing the type of fans I’m getting. I hadn’t dropped music in a while. We already knew the music was dumb hard but we really didn’t know how the fans would approach it because I hadn’t really did anything like that before. That brought me a lot more fans. Just off the fact that I did that and when fans go back they see I got different sounds. I got songs like ‘You Not Gang,’ I got songs like ‘Big Gucci’ but no song is the same. That’s the best part."
My goal in hip-hop is: "When it’s all said and done I want to be a legend, I want to be great, there is no other way around it. I want to leave my print on the game."
I’m gonna be the next: "I want to be the next Mike Vick or Allen Iverson of hip-hop because where we from, don’t nobody make it out of Virginia. I happened to get where without no OG, nobody. It was just me and my bothers and my old heads. Coming out of Virginia is already hard. To do it without some kind of platform, it speaks volumes."
Standout: Presence of a Lord