Everything starts with a dream. Luh Kel was a St. Louis youth who knew deep in his heart that one day he'd take off in music. Back when he was 14, after a flurry of singing competitions and recitals, Kel joined the local R&B group Project X, further polishing his skills. He eventually set off on his own and released his debut single "Wrong," a vulnerable tale of heartbreak.

According to Luh Kel, he teased the song for seven months, lying about when it was dropping until it was finally ready. The "Wrong" video blew up, racking up 400,000 views in its first day, and has an eye-popping 67 million to date. Follow-up songs "BRB" and "Pull Up" only bolstered Kel's momentum, leading to the mid-November release of his debut project, Mixed Emotions.

Still rolling off of the success of his breakthrough, Luh Kel speaks with XXL for this week's edition of The Break.

Age: 17

Hometown: St. Louis

I grew up listening to: "Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, PnB Rock—he more influenced my sound. The other ones was just what I used to listen to and sing to."

My style’s been compared to: "A lot of people—PnB Rock, [Lil] Tjay sometimes, Chris Brown as far as me being young and starting young. But it's a whole bunch of people. I'm not really tweakin' about who people say I am, at least they named me with successful people."

My standout records to date have been: "My biggest song is 'Wrong,' off rip. 'BRB' is actually doing pretty good. It's at like 20-something million. After that it's 'Pull Up,' at like 10 million."

My most slept-on song is: "A song called 'What U Do.' It's like an Usher remix. It's not really on DSP's like that. It's slept-on though—it only got like 600,000 views. I don't know why, but that song hard."

My standout moments to date have been: "Going on tour. That was a crazy experience. Being around people that are actually singing my songs in different cities I never been to, that'll impact you."

Most people don’t know: "In order for me to doo-doo, the shower water gotta be on. I swear to God! For real! The water gotta be on, I gotta hear that. I been doin' that since I was like 12."

I’m going to blow up because: "I'm different from any other artist that you can try to compare [me] to. A lot of people usually talk about street stuff. I could talk about that—that's where I'm from—but it's like I go a different route with it cause that's just what I like. That's the type of music I listen to."

I’m going to be the next: "Legend."

Follow Luh Kel on Instagram and SoundCloud.



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