If there’s one thing to be said about rapper XV, it’s that he always sounds like he’s having fun. In the years that the Wichita, Kansas emcee has been on the mixtape circuit, he’s been consistent in his releases and not rested on his laurels. While 2009’s Everybody's Nobody was the MC's coming out party, it was 2011’s Zero Heroes that really put XV on the map. That mixtape was not only the his best effort to date, but was also one of the year’s standouts. Even Verizon took notice, borrowing the track “Awesome” for one of its commercials. Not bad for a kid from Kansas. With his brand new effort, The Yellow Brick Road To SXSW, XV is back in 2012, with a mix-tape that serves as an appetizer to his, as of now, unrevealed next project.

XV describes the release as something for his fans to hold onto in the meantime—and it is that, as he compiles many of his recent cuts—he almost sells it short, as The Yellow Brick Road is much more than just a teaser. The first few tracks alone are worth the price of admission, as XV displays his wordplay skills on “Learn To Fly,” “Boss Level,” “Gobstopper” and the standout “30,000.”

As an MC, XV possesses a combination of charisma, energy, wit and talent for storytelling that prove him an artist that takes his craft to hear. Tracks such as “The Kick,” “Hoop Dreams” and “End Of The World,” not only exhibit this, but also a keen ear for production. Throughout, the production remains strong.

XV does not veer off track with The Yellow Brick Road To SXSW. The Warner Bros. signee is continuing to come into his own as he sets the stage to build anticipation for his next proper release. —Nene Wallace Reed