“And I see you Puttin’ in on the surface, baby You been searching for it And I’m searching, baby Searching for you” – Blxst on “Searching”
Blxst has far and away one of the most enticing new sounds in all of music. After relentless comparisons to the late Nate Dogg, it’s easy to see that he seems to fill an empty space that people craved tonally. Though when I dove into conversation with him, it became clear that this West Coast hip-hop hook legend comparison was not the sole reason for his seemingly instant widespread appeal.
Blxst is an early ’90s baby, which gives him a unique understanding of the old while maintaining an astute perception of the current sound. This dual consciousness bleeds directly into all of his compositions. On a song like “Wrong or Right,” we hear Blxst croon on the one hand about how “What we built ain’t overnight” and on the other that “Wrong or right, you fuck with me regardless.” The slick appeal to each side of the coin allows for a connection to someone delving through problematic young love as well as someone in a long term partnership. Yet even with this natural perception based on age, it is still not the main reason I discovered he connects.
Blxst doesn’t just sing from his own perspective. As we got into the nitty-gritty of his process, I uncovered that when thinking about singing a story, he takes a step back and views the entirety of the circumstance. This allows him to not only deliver music like a movie scene but also allow the space for the listener to relate to his tone from any perspective they may feel most attached to. On a track like “Be Alone,” he sings, dissecting his and his lover’s mind state in real-time, “You be trippin’ on the time we don’t spend / I pull up and gotta slide once again / You signed up, said you’d ride to the end / But you don’t wanna be alone.”
Blxst tap dances with smooth melody on the instrumental, moving from his own frustration and expectation directly into the vulnerability behind his lover’s aggravation. That last line, which became the song’s title, gets at what the whole truth is underneath the fight on the surface. Blxst’s storytelling is nuanced and all-encompassing, allowing anyone to hold onto his sentiment.
As the title of this piece says, Blxst is always “Searching For You.” He wants to reach you when he finds you, whoever you are, through not only his lyrical offerings but his undeniable melodic prowess. Check out our conversation below to hear all the ways he listens to and tries to enhance his connection to his listeners. Then stay for everything from his intention with his new deluxe version of No Love Lost to wild gems about navigating the business.
This is a direct quote from you: “When you good at something you tell the world, when you great at something the world will tell you.” How has the world told you? I feel like it’s a trending thing on Twitter when people say, “Blxst don’t miss.” So I just use that quote as a caption, really. I’ve been getting a lot of good reception, so I want to reciprocate that energy. Of course, I feel like I’m good, but I feel like I’m humble enough to know I got a long way to go.
Do you feel like these new songs on the deluxe stand alone as sort of their own project, or are they just an extension of the original No Love Lost? I look at it just like bonus tracks. I look at the original like it has its own storyline, and the deluxe is like the director’s cut. It was mainly for the fans saying they wanted more music. So I felt it’d add icing on the cake to have features and new producers.
If you could sum up that original No Love Lost project in a one-word theme, what would it be? I would just say honest because it’s my truth. It’s a situation I was really going through. It meant a lot because it was a transitional moment for me. I feel like pouring the honesty I did into the music led to the flowers I’m getting now. It reassured me that I’m on the right path.
The one-word theme that stuck out to me for it was forgiveness. You sing about everything from being forgiving and the value in it, to needing forgiveness from someone else, to moments when it’s hard to forgive. Is that something you were thinking about while creating? That’s spot on. I feel like you gave me a different perspective on my own project. That’s a unique way to look at it for sure. I’m gonna use that. [Both laugh]
Go for it. Then for the deluxe songs, I felt like the theme shifts to trust. Either you needing it, or that it’s hard to maintain. Is that also fair? Yeah, for certain songs for sure. I also felt like there’s a certain confidence in the deluxe songs too. Like I went through that phase already, and now I have a different viewpoint moving forward.
Speaking of confidence, the first bar of the deluxe on the song “Pressure” is, “I ain’t heard one bad Blxst song.” It reminds me of Drake’s, “Last name ever, first name greatest.” What gave you the wild level of confidence to open a song with that? Of course, me 100 percent believing in myself. But aside from that, the response I’ve been getting from this project has been crazy and even before that. Like I said, “he don’t miss,” and stuff like “Blxst the new West coast” has been a trend on Twitter. I really wanted to highlight the energy that I was feeling from everybody else. If you listen to the song, the first three lines was me speaking from somebody else’s perspective. Then I come in, “I was broke last year now the cast gone.” I was just looking at what they were saying, and I was like, “I was just broke last year and y’all saying that?!”
Wow, that’s dope. I didn’t realize you were doing that with the two perspectives. So this whole making no bad songs thing, does that require you to leave a lot of songs on the cutting room floor, or do you release everything you start making? Well, I record a lot, bro. For me, it has to make sense as far as what we doing conceptually. As long as it ties into what we got going on, I’m all for it. But even if not, it’ll eventually come out. If it doesn’t feel right at this moment, it could come out three years from now. It’s some songs on this project that I recorded two years before it came out.
So what you’re saying is since they all come out eventually … there really isn’t one bad Blxst song? [Laughs] Facts. Pretty much.
So “Pressure” is also the first time we’ve heard you spit. Was it intentional with that first song on the deluxe to make that, “Hey, I can rap, too” statement? Yeah, because a lot of new listeners started tapping in. Faster than normal. So I wanted to showcase that I could spit too because a lot of people didn’t know that, and I thought it was good if I showed it right out the gate as opposed to later down the line. I want people to be used to how big my arsenal is.
On that song, you also have a bar about scrolling through Zillow. What type of stuff you got saved on there? I just be lookin’ in there, man. This year my number one goal is to be a homeowner. I did get to move into a new spot, but right now, that’s one of my priorities. I just be looking when I get bored seeing what my options are and what cities I wanna live in. I know next year for sure that goal will be accomplished. I wanna have a duck off spot in LA, but I wanna have a home outside of LA.
Let’s get into what sets your music apart. You do everything, down to the engineering. Is there a specific thing you learned about how to mix your sound that you think elevates it? Me recording other people taught me how to just engineer. But even to this day, I don’t feel like I’m the greatest engineer. I just know how I wanna sound. That’s what makes it unique as far as my own vocals. I just like my vocals to be full. When I ask that from other engineers, they can’t really understand. I just like a full leading vocal. I don’t really do no ad-libs, so I need my lead vocal to stand out strong and warm you know?
You’re also credited as the sole producer on so many of your songs. Since you’ve gained traction, have you been working with other producers more? Lately, I have been working with a lot more producers, just off the fact that you get busier. Of course, I’m still producing as well, like that’s where my heart is at. Creating something from scratch.
You use a lot of really interesting samples in your beats. The Spinners for “Got It All,” Donnell Jones for “Overrated,” and Aaliyah for “Be Alone,” for example. Do you use samples a lot, and how’d you find those? When I get inspired, bro, I just run with it. So that “Be Alone” sample by Aaliyah it was this girl on Instagram from Chicago. She was singing the song, so I took the vocals from her Instagram, looped it, played chords over it, and added drums to it. It was just random. You gotta go when you feel motivated and just keep building on top of it. A lot of other samples come from the homies too. They give me recommendations like, “You should flip this.” Like that “Got It All” sample, that came from my boy T.Reg.
You also have a lot of live guitar and bass. Who’s playing those? The guitarist on most of the songs, his name is Sam Young. He works with my boy D.Woo from Texas. “Change Up” that’s from my boy Chris O’Bannon. He played the guitar on that one. I don’t play any instruments other than the keyboard.
What are some songs you produced for others people may not know about? Most of my songs are popular LA songs. I would say “Right Wit It” by my boy Kalan.Frfr. I produced a song by Eric Bellinger called “By Now.” The first song that really took off as far as the city was a song I got called “Do Yo Gudda,” and Kendrick, YG, and Problem hopped on that song, which was crazy.
Word. This is random, but I was playing No Love Lost in the car with my mom, and she was really into it, which I was surprised by because it’s so current sounding. Your style is not usually her jam. You have some old-school sentiment laced throughout your music though, especially on a song like “Wrong or Right,” “Be Alone,” or “Just Say’n” where does that come from? That’s crazy. I don’t know, bro. A lot of people tell me I have an old soul too. I’m just big on integrity. A lot of things are respectful as well. I can relate to the old generation and the young generation. I feel like it’s important even in my music. I feel like the content I speak on I make sure it’s not overly vulgar, but still feels fresh. I feel like that’s really hard to do. The compliments are reassuring for real.
Me and you both were born in the early ’90s. I feel like people born in that time have an understanding of where the older taste and sentiment comes from while also getting the appeal of the new school. Do you feel that way? Absolutely. I feel like that era had a sense of pride, and again the word I can stand on is integrity. We gotta bridge that with the generation now. I feel like what we lack nowadays is integrity. I try to keep that in the music as much as possible. Always making sure the lyrics is comin’ from a pure place.
As far as purity goes, but now with melody, I feel like “Gang Slide” has one of the purest melodies from this past year. Can you talk about how that song came together? It was really just an interlude. I don’t know where my music be coming from, bro. I just be pulling inspiration. Actually, it was a sample in that song too that we didn’t get cleared. It was Beyoncé, the “Party” song she got with André 3000. We took it out. I wish the world could hear the one with the sample. It had that same energy as the Beyoncé song as far as how it feels fun, but it still had progressive chords in it at the same time. That’s pretty much where I pulled my inspiration from though.
Wow, that’s crazy. How’d the falsetto part on the second verse of “Just Say’n” come to be? It’s one of my favorite moments of the project. I felt like that song can be heard from both perspectives. “You been actin different lately,” that goes both ways. In a relationship, you don’t understand the other person’s side. The falsetto is me showcasing the true emotions that even a female may have. Like, “What else am I supposed to do?” I feel like that falsetto made you feel that. It’s like, “Damn, Blxst hit a falsetto?” Cuz it’s not what I normally do.
So you consistently sing from yours and others perspectives? Are you looking at all the circumstances in your songs from a bird’s eye view? I try to look at it as a whole piece like, “How can I tell the story from the beginning to the end and not just from one perspective?” “How can I make it a whole story to where it has a deeper meaning to it to where anybody listening can pull something from it?”
So since you at times sing slightly from the female perspective, that’s one thing missing from your catalog is a collab with a female artist. Anyone, in particular, you’d like to make a song with? Of course. I wanna work with Jhené Aiko. H.E.R., she going crazy. Teyana Taylor! Any woman I name is killing it right now. They had the craziest year in 2020. I feel like that will really complete the sound, having that female perspective on a Blxst song.
Someone else who’s sound clearly meshes well with yours is Bino Rideaux. What makes your sounds work together? I think me and Bino’s vibe is crazy cuz it’s that perfect blend of “Street Love.” Bino talks his shit a lot, which I love. Just to be able to capture that in a sophisticated mode, I feel like it’s a perfect blend. It’s good for any occasion. Backyard function, the club, ridin’ solo, it just puts you in that mode.
Are we still getting Sixtape 2 in 2020? You definitely gotta wait til 2021, but it’s in the works for sure.
You chose to do a collaboration with your company Evgle and Redbull Music instead of the traditional major label route. Can you break down your team and their team’s specific roles in the relationship? We provide anything that has to do with the creative aspect of it. Whether it’s the music videos, of course, the music, production, we come up with the pitch decks for activation, rollouts, even down to the billboards. They’re just the machine that pushes it, which is exactly what Evgle needed to add fuel to the fire. Working with Redbull has been nothing but great for me, as you can see. I just love the infrastructure there. They’re open to everything.
Do you think independent artists should strive to take on as much as your team has before they commit to a label or partnership? I feel like you should do what works for you. I understand myself. I produce everything. I make my own graphic art. I do the post-production for the videos. So I didn’t really need that much just to distribute it in a professional way. Some people may need extra producers and graphic designers that they don’t have, but I feel like first and foremost, you should build something in-house or use the resources that you have within your circle.
What happened to that Scooby-Doo track you said you did with Jack Harlow? Any other offbeat tracks we should know about? That’s already out. It’s on the Scoob! movie that came out a couple of months ago. It’s a song called “Yikes,” and I co-wrote the hook. I worked on The Fast and The Furious soundtrack as well.
Where did your idea for The Cook Up series come from, where you make beats while chefs make dishes? It really started off as an idea from my boy Direct Dev who does all our behind the scenes Evgle Eyes vlogs and stuff. He was like, “Bro, we should put together some content showcasing how you a vegan but also showcasing the music with it.” I knew a lot of local chefs that’s popping right now, so I was like, “It’d be dope if we collaborated and brought those worlds together.” I feel like people really like that content when two worlds collide.
Back one more time to “Pressure” and specifically the bar, “Ain’t no need to mention me recording with my son on my lap.” From that time of struggle in fatherhood to now, what’s the journey been like? It’s just crazy to even think about it. I actually have footage about that too. Just to see the transition, we still got a long way to go, and I’m still in grind mode, but it’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful struggle, word to Mozzy. I like them moments cuz that’s what builds character. That’s what made me hungry. It’s just nothing but motivation.
How’s it been being a father during the pandemic? It’s a gift and a curse. You get to spend time with your family. It makes you re-evaluate what your priorities really are. But at the same time, I wanna be on the road. I wanna feel that energy from the fans. But being a father during the pandemic overall is dope cuz you get to do things you wouldn’t normally be able to do.
Last question. How do you feel like you’ve grown musically and personally from dropping the initial No Love Lost project to now after having dropped this deluxe? Putting out this project was like a question mark for me. How would people gravitate towards a sound that I haven’t already put out? So with songs like “Just Say’n,” songs like “Searching,” it was a test to see how people would react. With “Wrong or Right” or “Overrated,” I knew people were gonna love those ’cause that’s the type of music I been putting out. After putting that out, it gave me a sense of confidence like, “it’s possible!” You can be creative how you want. There’s no ceiling to it.
I feel like that opened the door for me to go even crazier for my next project. I just want it to be even bigger. More live instruments and more storytelling. Create my own world to where when people come listen to a Blxst song, you know it’s gonna be a vibe 100 percent of the time.