Blxst – 2021 XXL Freshman
- GOV'T NAME: Matthew Burdette
- AGE: 25
- REPPIN': Los Angeles
- TWITTER: @blxst
- INSTAGRAM: @blxst
- TIKTOK: @blxst_
- NOTABLE RELEASES: Singles: “Selfish” with Bino Rideaux, “Be Alone,” “Chosen” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Tyga, “Overrated,” “Fck Boys” featuring Russ; Mixtape: Sixtape 1 with Bino Rideaux; EPs: No Love Lost, No Love Lost (Deluxe); Guest Appearances: YG and Mozzy’s “Perfect Timing,” Mozzy’s “Streets Ain’t Safe,” Bino Rideaux’s “Brand New”
- LABEL: Evgle partnership with Red Bull Records
- CURRENTLY WORKING ON: Sixtape 2 and as-yet-untitled debut album due later this year.
- WHO ELSE SHOULD BE PART OF THIS YEAR'S CLASS: “Well, just representing L.A., I would say Drakeo [The Ruler]. Well, I wouldn’t’t really consider him a Freshman because he’s been doing it for a minute, but at the same time, he set a new wave in L.A. as far as rappers go.”
- INFLUENCED BY: “Ultimately, I always say Pharrell [Williams], Kanye West, Ryan Leslie. Mostly artists that produced. Also, being from L.A., Nipsey [Hussle]. Kendrick [Lamar], the whole TDE movement, really. It was like a West Coast Wu-Tang [Clan] when they came out. ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock.”
- AS A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL: “Well, this was around the time I moved with my dad to the IE [Inland Empire], so I was to myself a lot. I was real quiet. I kind of grew up quiet, but even more, because I didn’t know people there. Yeah, I was very observant my freshman year. I took theater freshman year [and] that kind of opened me up a little bit to be more animated. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I ended up loving it, which is crazy.
It’s a big deal. Even when I look back to it, my favorite artists is on there: Nipsey [Hussle], Kendrick [Lamar], Jay Rock, so to even be considered in the publication as those artists is nuts.
[I bring] artist integrity. Not only am I an artist, I’m also a producer. I mix all of my music; I do post-production on my videos. I’m just very hands-on. I want to protect my vision. Not to compare myself to everybody else, but it’s rare that you get that triple threat nowadays. I’m going to stand on that.
I’m just living in a dream. That’s how I picture everything. Like, anything is possible especially if I can get the XXL Freshman [cover]. I’m definitely going to celebrate with my team, for sure. That’s the first thing I’m going to do. Last year, my financial situation was tricky. So, to be in this position now is, like I said, anything is possible. And for me to show that to my son is everything to me.”–Georgette Cline
BLXST'S 2021 XXL FRESHMAN FREESTYLE
Blxst believes anything is possible. A year ago, the South Central, Los Angeles native was in a “tricky” financial situation like most artists who experienced the pitfalls of the pandemic. After releasing his critically acclaimed debut EP, No Love Lost, in September of 2020, and its deluxe edition two months later, the 25-year-old hip-hop triple threat started moving on up in streams and prominence. His blend of breezy singing, elite rhymes and supreme production earned him more ears and eyes in his direction than even he anticipated. Bangers like “Chosen” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Tyga, “Overrated” and “Pressure” feature the substance and special sauce that have earned him his rightful place in the 2021 XXL Freshman Class. Blxst is the only artist among the 10 other Freshmen who raps, sings and produces.
For an artist whose dynamic vocals command the mic with ease these days, the West Coast rhymer actually grew up as a quiet kid in California’s Inland Empire. During his freshman year in school, Blxst kept to himself while getting acclimated to new surroundings.
“Well, this was around the time I moved with my dad to the IE [Inland Empire], so I was to myself a lot,” Blxst explains. “I was real quiet. I kind of grew up quiet, but even more, because I didn’t know people there. Yeah, I was very observant my freshman year. I took theater freshman year [and] that kind of opened me up a little bit to be more animated. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I ended up loving it, which is crazy.” Putting himself out there worked to his benefit.
A former theater kid has now become the self-proclaimed “West Coast secret weapon.” After working behind the scenes as a producer—he looked to fellow producers-turned-artists like Ryan Leslie and Kanye West as inspiration—Blxst moved to the forefront in 2015, with his slow groove single “Who Would’ve Thought.” However, he wouldn’t get the recognition he truly deserved until he and Bino Rideaux linked in 2019, for the Sixtape joint EP. The people were finally paying attention. Off the strength of that project, Blxst signed a partnership deal between his own Evgle imprint and Red Bull Records last year.
Now, he’s a 2021 XXL Freshman with a debut album on the way. Before that, Sixtape 2 with Bino arrives July 16. Blxst has plenty to celebrate as the seventh month of the year gets underway. “As far as I’m concerned, [being an XXL Freshman is] every artist’s dream. It’s a great introduction, for sure, especially in the industry,” he says. “And it just highlights that you’re in it for the long run, not just be in for one day and gone the next. Especially this early, I know people are barely getting their eyes on me. The music really speaks for it versus anything else.”
Blxst finds himself in the company of many lauded former Freshmen from California. “It’s a big deal,” he confirms. “Even when I look back to it, my favorite artists is on there: Nipsey [Hussle], Kendrick [Lamar], Jay Rock, so to even be considered in the publication as those artists is nuts.” The Left Coast has been represented well in past classes.
This moment is surreal for him, considering a year ago he was worried about what’s next. “I’m just living in a dream,” Blxst affirms. “That’s how I picture everything. Like, anything is possible especially if I can get the XXL Freshman [cover].”
Along with his cover spot, Blxst also brings the bars. Once he gets going, it's clear why this artist is among the newest rising stars in hip-hop. His 2021 XXL Freshman freestyle features witty one-liners and deft storytelling that are supported by the snaps of his fingers.
“I just left Malibu/Mood on gratitude/I can't be ungrateful with a lavish view/Crazy what just dedication, plannin' and some passion do/Plantin' seeds, life inna be sweeter than a passionfruit/God's Earth, came away from Wadsworth Avenue/Agency gon' pay the fee for places that we travel to/Got it out the gravel, too/You was where the grasses grew/I'm the only one I could compare me to/We are not one and the same/Like, do I really gotta explain/The underdog really offa the chain/Actions follow ever quote that I bang/Manifest it, I don't talk it in vain,” Blxst rhymes.
He also reminisces on having a talk with J. Cole, getting a blessing from Nas and locking in a studio session with The Game.
Watch Blxst make his case for being the secret weapon from the West in his 2021 XXL Freshman freestyle, powered by BODYARMOR, above.
Among the new generation of rising artists from the West Coast is 2021 XXL Freshman Blxst, a hip-hop superhero coming in to save the day with his revered sing-song rap style. His 2020 EP, No Love Lost, and its accompanying deluxe edition have earned the South Central, Los Angeles native much respect as a newcomer in the game. The 25-year-old artist, who raps, sings and produces, already proudly proclaimed that he's willing to carry the torch for L.A. to uphold the city's legacy like Nipsey Hussle did. Now, Blxst, with a proverbial cape at his back, is soaring into the game, knocking out any obstacle in his path. He brings that same vibe to his version of XXL's ABCs.
When Blxst was younger, he came up with what would ultimately be his rap moniker "on some dumb shit." The letter B prompts him to tell the story. "As I got older, when I had my son, I looked at it as me being his superhero," he says of his now 3-year-old child. "So, now I'm Blxst the superhero."
For D, it's clear the triple threat practices what he preaches. "D, yeah, I'ma say don't talk too much because actions speak louder than words at all times," Blxst shares. Over the last year, the West Coast artist did few interviews, and let the music speak for itself. Tracks like the guitar-driven groove "Chosen" featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Tyga, which has 39 million Spotify streams and more than 7 million YouTube views, and the Donell Jones' "This Luv"-sampled "Overrated," with 18 milli Spotify streams and nearly 4 milli YouTube views, are proof of that.
Elsewhere in his ABCs, Blxst looks to one of the NBA's most admired basketball players to set the bar for excellence in the game: Michael Jordan. "For J, I'ma say Jordan," explains Blxst, whose independent label Evgle has a partnership with Red Bull Records. "You know that's a NBA great and I strive to have the work ethic that he had."
L is an obvious choice with L.A. getting all the love. M stands for money, and, most importantly, to make sure that the bag is secured at all times because "you can't be out here looking sad." And vegan comes to mind when Blxst gets to the letter V. Just like he promotes his music, he does so with healthy eating, too.
Watch Blxst pay respect to DMX, root for the underdog and keep hustling at the forefront in his ABCs below.
BLXST'S TOP FIVE FAVORITE RAPPERS
Blxst prides himself on being a triple threat. The 25-year-old West Coast native raps, sings and produces. That three-headed creative energy is best showcased on his 2020 EP, No Love Lost, and its deluxe version. While artists that came before him have mastered those similar crafts, Blxst is doing it his own way. He makes the kind of breezy music that feels like it's soaked in sunshine—perfect for the ride, getting in the zone inside at home or outside in these streets this summer. Listen to "Chosen" featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Tyga, and "Overrated" to get familiar. Wearing the artist and producer hat simultaneously could mean one area is lacking, but that's not the case for this 2021 XXL Freshman. He's learned from some of the best, which he pays homage to in his list of top five favorite rappers.
For his top five picks, Blxst names three artists who excel in the art of both rapping and producing. However, all five are highly respected lyricists with plenty of classic material to their names. "Kendrick [Lamar], J. Cole, Drake, André 3000 and I'ma say Kanye West," Blxst shares as he lists off his favorite rappers.
His first choice is not only a fellow West Coast rep, but someone Blxst has a work history with. In 2014, he produced Hitta J3’s track “Do Yo Gudda” and its remix, which K-Dot was featured on. "So Kendrick, yeah, that's King Kendrick, you know?" Blxst expresses. "He set the tone for, like, bars on the West Coast and I feel like he set it high." High enough for three of his projects to land at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
North Carolina's own J. Cole is another esteemed MC that has a place on Blxst's top five. "J Cole is another one who set the bar high," he shares. "I just appreciate him just because he come from the Jay-Z family. He was like a underdog that really outshined a lot of people." Since 2011, when Cole dropped his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, he's been doing just that.
Over in Toronto, the Boy has made an impact on Blxst's career. From singing to rapping, Drizzy has created countless hits showcasing his dual talents. "Drake, I would say him just because he's just musically inclined to another level," Blxst says. "Drake is like a top-tier when it comes to creating." Drake's upcoming Certified Lover Boy album will undoubtedly support Blxst's sentiments.
A lauded ATLien, who has been in the game for nearly three decades, inspires off staying true to his core. "André 3000, he's himself, like no matter what," Blxst explains. "He can go weird. He can hang with the gangsters, hang with the weirdos and still be accepted as who he is." His catalog as part of OutKast and his solo work caters to both.
And rounding out his top five is one of hip-hop's most prolific yet polarizing artists. "So, I would say Kanye as well because you can't box him in," Blxst conveys. "There's no limit to, you know, how creative he can get." From music to fashion, there's always an unparalleled surprise on the horizon when ’Ye's ready to drop.
Watch Blxst offer his takes on his top five favorite rappers' careers below.
BLXST'S TOP FIVE FAVORITE HIP-HOP ALBUMS
Listening to a stellar hip-hop album has inspired many rappers to try their hand at the craft, finding their own voice while embracing the influence of another. For 2021 XXL Freshman Blxst, one of those artists is ScHoolboy Q. When the rising West Coast rapper, who has built a name for himself over the last year for his singsong delivery, first got his start in music years ago, Q's 2011 album, Setbacks, inspired Blxst to "create something from scratch." The LP, which features tracks like the Kendrick Lamar-assisted "Birds & The Beez" and "iBETiGOTSUMWEED," is just one of Blxst's five favorite hip-hop albums.
While Blxst's No Love Lost EP, released last year, is heavy on the melody, the choices he makes for the projects that have impacted his life come from more rappers known for their bars and lyrical delivery. Sticking close to home, considering Blxst is a native of South Central, Los Angeles, first up on his list is Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d. city. Blxst, who produced the remix to Hitta J3’s 2014 track “Do Yo Gudda,” which K-Dot was featured on, appreciates GKMC for the way in which Kendrick gave a window into life in Compton. "That album he was really giving a different perspective on Compton," Blxst shares. "Like he was a good kid in a mad city and nobody really talked about that."
Another highly respected MC shows up on Blxst's top five. "I'ma say the next album is J. Cole,  Forest Hills Drive," he adds. "That was one of my favorite albums because I was in a dark space when he dropped that and I feel like he was speaking to me personally. I know every word on that album." Cole's world helped Blxst see the light.
After naming ScHoolboy Q's Setbacks, a lauded rhymer from the streets of Queens gets some love. "Next album I'ma have to say is 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin'," Blxst explains. "That's a classic. No skips on there. When he dropped that album, it just changed the whole game." A West Coast native with appreciation for East Coast rhymes.
A special memory between mother and son is what helps cement the last selection on Blxst's list. "My last album I'ma say College Dropout, Kanye West," he says. "That album is special to me because that was like one of the albums that me and my mom used to listen to together, and she don't listen to too much hip-hop. So anytime we listened to that album it was like a little bond we had." Family first.
Connect with Blxst on his top five favorite hip-hop albums below.
BLXST AND TOOSII'S 2021 XXL FRESHMAN CYPHER
2021 XXL Freshmen Toosii and Blxst similarly operate as R&B guys at heart who are good in the streets. The content of their music will zigzag between topics of broken hearts in one bar and focus on spraying heat that pulls back the faces of their enemies in the next. Whether it’s singing or rapping, they can finesse both. The two talented artists hold it down in a cypher together that was initially set to include other switch-hitting acts like The Kid Laroi, who couldn’t participate last minute, and Iann Dior, who opted not to rap on the day of the Freshman shoot. Toosii, reppin' Syracuse, N.Y. and Raleigh, N.C., and Blxst, from South Central, L.A., deliver straight bars to uppercut their haters and flex during their come up.
Blxst goes first with a verse about getting his foot in the door and then putting it on the necks of his competitors. Over a serene, flute-dominant arrangement created by Nick Mira and ThankYouWill, Blxst uses just over 40 seconds to let the out-of-touch folk know that he’s already been deemed as the chosen one to put the West Coast on his back.
“Westside, I gave the heart to my coast/Jump off the porch and they gave me the torch/Two places I won’t go back, of course/That’s broke and that’s forth,” he rhymes, bouncing to the beat. Before the curtains close on his verse, the blossoming artist publicizes that he will in fact be keeping this same big-dog energy in the future. “Foot on yo' neck if you not giving yours/Yeah, I came for seconds and more/Ran up a check, baby, I gotta charge/So, double my exes I’m doing it large, forever.”
Toosii plays the role of a closer, clearing the beat for almost two full minutes. His section is dedicated to the infinitely applauded Ms. Parker from the classic Friday. “How you doing, Ms. Parker?/This the wrong tree you wanna bark up/I turn a grown woman to a stalker/Want a young nigga? That’s gonna cost you,” he spits.
The Down South talent continues to let his thoughts spill out, detailing his ability to take her pain away like a prescription narcotic. He acknowledges what he brings to the table, but shows more admiration than anything else, as he salutes everything from the jiggle in her sundress to the boss-like words of encouragement she offers. Toosii’s confessional closes with a quick mention of being sprung, which real ones never hesitate to admit. “You get me devilish, but you heaven-sent, way you put it on me, catch the holy ghost/We got somethin' special what we got going on, don’t nobody know,” he delivers.
Peep Toosii and Blxst’s 2021 XXL Freshman cypher, powered by FX’s Dave, below.—Kemet High
BLXST AND TOOSII'S 2021 XXL FRESHMAN ROUNDTABLE INTERVIEW
The XXL Freshman process is an extensive one. It starts with months of artists pitches that includes interviews and listening sessions. Next comes the shoot, crammed with back-to-back activities including the freestyles, cyphers, ABCs, photoshoots and more. The day can truly be exhausting, but at the end of it all, 2021 XXL Freshmen elects Blxst and Toosii finally got a breather and reflected on the busy journey in their roundtable interview following the cypher they bodied.
At the top of the segment, the two genre-blending artists share their thoughts on being a Freshman. For Blxst, the West Coast rhymer whose rapping and singing skills helped build his hype with esteemed projects like No Love Lost and glowing tracks like “Gang Slide,” the honor is “everything.” “It’s like a notable cosign," he explains. "XXL is a respected platform, so it give you that green light for sure."
Toosii, an artist who reps upstate New York and Down South, and rose to prominence with tracks like “Red Light” and “Love Cycle,” agrees with his classmate and speaks about stepping up to the plate when his name was called. “Everybody ain’t blessed enough to have this opportunity,” he expresses. “So I think like, if you ain’t take full advantage of this opportunity, I don’t know how often you’re gonna get too many more.”
In the three-minute clip, the pairing also takes time to divulge their thoughts on comparison being the thief of joy for their generation. And how the camaraderie between their classmates goes against that grain.
“As far as peers go, I feel the love," Blxst starts." I don’t really feel too much hate. And it’s no ego. I don’t know if its just this generation, but I feel like the ego is being taken away. It don’t matter what level you on. If you hard, you hard...”
“I never looked to be in competition with Blxst or be in competition with [Pooh] Shiesty or any of them,” Toosii adds. “At the end of the day it’s enough for all of us. So, we here and we working.”
Watch Blxst and Toosii predict people’s reaction to their spot on the cover, discuss not being distracted by the success of their peers and more in their 2021 XXL Freshman roundtable interview below.—Kemet High