The Break Presents: Lil Xan
Not much is known about Lil Xan other than the fact that his records such as "Betrayed" and "Slingshot" have millions of views and plays on YouTube and SoundCloud. The 21-year-old West Coast native is a new face in hip-hop and his alternative approach to rap is garnering a legion of music lovers to adore him. The crazy thing is, he's only been rapping for a couple of years and initially wanted to be a photographer.
When Xan was growing up, he was mostly into alternative rock and was the photographer in his group of rapper friends. When his camera was stolen after a friend's show, instead of paying for another $1,200 camera, he used the money he had for studio time. Over the course of two years, rapping went from being a hobby to his profession.
"I was rapping as a hobby for a year and six months, but it got very serious six months ago," he said to XXL over the phone. "Then even more four months ago and even more two months ago, now it’s even at a level where the movement which I created, Xanarchy, has taken off. The music is doing very well and I’m just blessed to be in this position right now."
He started out in a group called Low Gang but after that fizzled out, Xanarchy was born. "Me and my friend was going by this group called Low Gang and it wasn’t really taking off," Lil Xan explained. "So, from ashes of Low Gang I created Xanarchy and I just thought the name was a good play on words. It’s been taking off, it’s already showing signs. It’s ridiculous how much the growth has been everywhere."
LIl Xan got his name when he was still a photographer and was addicted to Xanax. A friend gave him the name while they was in Texas because the young upstart was always "off the Xan." He has since kicked his Xanax addiction—something he raps about on his hit single "Betrayed"—and has seen his star power rise. He is undoubtedly one of the hottest rappers going into 2018. His focus now is completing his upcoming album Total Xanarchy and showing listeners that he has an abundance of sounds for enjoyment.
"Total Xanarchy, it should be out early next year and the album is going to change a lot of people’s perception on how they see my music because it’s just different sounds," he added. "It’s going to show people exactly what I want to show, that I can evolve my sound."
Get to know more about Lil Xan in The Break.
Name: Lil Xan
Hometown: Redlands, Calif.
I grew up listening to: "I got into music through photography. I used to be a photographer and a bunch of my friends started rapping. I went to a show with my camera and it got stolen and I was devastated because I was trying to be this next upcoming photographer. Someone swiped my camera behind the DJ booth. I took my loss and said, 'Screw it.' I thought, 'The camera was $1,200 but it’s only $20 dollars to make music, to record.' So I just went with recording [music]. All my friends were rappers so I just thought I might as well take a shot at it.
"I was never really freestyling or anything. I was just mainly playing video games and not focusing too much on the music. I always have been very musically influenced because of my dad. He had a very big record collection so I dabbled in different genres. I grew up listening to a lot of grunge and alternative rock, Artic Monkey, Queens of the Stone Age, Black Flag, Smashing Pumpkins and all that good stuff.
"When I was little my dad showed me N.E.R.D, their first album and I thought it was amazing. I thought Pharrell was just killing everything. That was my first introduction to rap. Then I kind of strayed away from rap for a while back to alternative rock. Then one day when I was in my room, I was like 17, a video for an A$AP Rocky song came on and I wasn’t hip to this new kind of rap. I thought it was the dopest shit I ever seen. Then I kept watching videos that came after on MTV and was wowed by how hip-hop was in a cool space.
"I [got better] by just observing my friends, Steven Cannon, he’s the second member of the Xanarchy group, he’s one of my favorite rappers. I took some of the pages from his book and sat back and watched him in the studio record. It was a great starting point to get introduced to the starting point on how to rap. As time progressed, I was way better than when I first started. My first couple of songs was kind of funny; I had to delete them off SoundCloud because it was kind of embarrassing. I just kept at it, kept getting better and it just evolved my music."
My style’s been compared to: "A lot of what they’re calling SoundCloud music is new wave. I’m definitely at the front of the new wave. I’ve been compared to Yung Lean, it’s kind of hard because no one really has compared [me] to a lot because my music is kind of different. It’s just a bunch of new wave."
Most people don’t know: "I can’t tie my shoes. So many people have tried to teach me but it's one of those things where I physically can’t learn, I don’t know why. There’s an old Spongebob episode where they teach you how to tie your shoes. I even watched that but it didn’t help [laughs]."
My standout moment to date: "‘Betrayed,’ it was a crazy smash that hit. You never know what song is going to be a hit but ‘Betrayed’ would have to be my favorite song. That song got me out of a lot of bad situations. I made this when I was off a little bit of Xanax. I recorded a lot of my songs when I was in [this] little ghetto trap garage. But, the engineers and the sound quality in there are amazing. I used a couple notes that I wrote prior the week before then I just wrote the rest of the song. It came out pretty good but we didn’t have any idea what it was going to do. We just thought it was a good song."
My goal in hip-hop is: "To just keep evolving as an artist and showing people that I can make different sounds, I don’t want to make just one type of music. And also my brand, get to a place where I feel comfortable where its at."
I’m going to be the next: "I would say, and I don’t want to sound cocky, but star or legend. It's just what I get called a lot."