|Label:||Square Bound Music/Warner Bros.|
|Next Project:||Vizzy Zone Mixtape|
|Twitter:||XV on Twitter|
There are some mysteries that seem destined to remain unsolved: who was the real Kennedy assassin? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? And why wasn’t XV signed to a major, like, yesterday? Though the answers to those questions may never become clear, there’s a very good chance hip-hop heads won’t be asking that last one for much longer. Ever the underdog, the Wichita, Kansas native has yet to get the shine – and the mainstream recognition – he so clearly deserves, but all signs point to 2010 being Vizzy’s year.
Booth readers have been aware of XV’s out-of-this-world talent since he was first featured in summer of ‘08, but it was with 2009’s release of his acclaimed Everybody’s Nobody street album (our staff pick for Best Mixtape of ‘09) that online buzz reached fever pitch. Now, the reader favorite (and exclusive freestyle series participant) is preparing to take fans on a trip to the Vizzy Zone with the February release of his follow-up mixtape, a project that will pave the way for the spring arrival of his hotly-anticipated debut studio album, The Kid With the Green Backpack.
In an exclusive interview with our own DJ “Z,” XV steps into the Booth to discuss the future (and the origin) of his collaborative relationship with producer Seven, his favorite DJBooth reader comment of all time, and his policy against deflowering female fans.
Listen to the Interview
XV Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy, “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth for the first interview of 2010 is a two-time 2009 Best of the Booth award-winner who has graced our homepage with new music for the past two years-
DJ Booth: Crazy is right! Gearing up for the release of his brand new mixtape, Vizzy Zone, please welcome the only emcee I know who hails from Wichita, Kansas, and a future household name, my friend XV. How you doin’, man?
XV: Man, I’m doin’ good, I’m doin’ great actually – I’m awesome!
DJ Booth: That is what I like to hear. We are less than a month into 2010 and already I feel like this year is going by faster than last year. Do you feel the same way?
XV: I feel it. Like, I keep looking at the dates and I’m like, “Oh, God – are we already near the 20th of January?!” I feel like I was drunk yesterday for New Year’s. It doesn’t even make sense!
DJ Booth: [laughs] Time is flying. And it never felt that way growing up, right? Growing up it always took forever to get from one day to the next.
XV: It took forever! You know, you were in the fifth grade thinking, “God, I cannot wait to be in middle school!” And it seemed like it took three years to get to middle school, in one grade. Now, I’m like, “God, am I really about to turn 25 years old?! Are you serious? Wait – this isn’t how my life’s supposed to work!”
DJ Booth: It’s bizarre; when you’re young, you want time to fly by, and then when you’re older, you’re like, “Can everything just slow down a little bit?”
XV: It doesn’t even make sense!
DJ Booth: I agree. In your EPK, XV, you are introduced as a rapper, an entertainer, a gamer, and a superhero. So, which one of these jobs do you feel is the hardest, and which one are you the best at?
XV: The one that I would say is the hardest is, a gamer. Right now I should be playin’ Mass Effect, ‘cause I’ve only got two achievements left on that, and I’m this close to getting a hundred percent on it. But I don’t get to ‘cause I’m workin’ on mixtapes, and I have to do interviews, and I have to go do shows, I have to go out of town… so that’s the one that’s hardest for me, ‘cause it consumes a lot of time. The one that I think I’m best at is, entertainer. And I say “entertainer” rather than “rapper” ‘cause there’s a lot of amazing rappers, to me. There’s some rappers, [who make me] say, “God, I wish I would’ve said that!” But when it comes to entertaining, I think that I am an amazing entertainer. Like, my live shows are crazy, and there was a lack of them last year, so that’s what I’m going to be focused on this year. I want people to see my live show ‘cause I feel like it’s going to be a big part of me becoming, like you said, a household name in 2010.
DJ Booth: Absolutely; the people have to see you to know about you.
XV: Exactly. There’s people out there who believe in me, but I want them to become believers. Like, real followers – from an 18-year-old in college comin’ up to me and saying, “Man, that song ‘Gobstopper’ is my joint!” to a 70-year-old white man coming up to me and saying, “I think your music is so cool! I work at a carpet factory and I need your CD to play over the speakers.” Which really happened to me, recently. So, that’s why I say that.
DJ Booth: [laughs] Well, let me tell you something: if you can appeal to an age range from 18 to 70 my friend, you have quite the future ahead of you!
XV: [laughs] Yeah, definitely! I’m actually gonna be performing next month at schools, I’m just gonna be performing at a bunch of elementary schools.
DJ Booth: A word to the wise, I used to work with kids when I was younger: if you tell them to clap, they will undoubtedly listen. So if you have any problem whatsoever during your set, just revert back to, “OK kids, clap for me!”and then you’ll get ‘em back on track, I guarantee it.
XV: [laughs] Exactly! I’m definitely taking that.
DJ Booth: All right, thank you. Going backwards, since June of 2008, we have featured your work 34 times. Now, I believe anyone who has 30 or more features at DJBooth is clearly very popular amongst our readership, but your music suggests, as a whole, that you don’t view yourself as that quote unquote, “popular” kid.
DJ Booth: Is perception versus reality a struggle that you’ve had to deal with over the past few years?
XV: Man, I deal with this a lot. Me and Seven, my producer, we talk about this a lot, because sometimes we’ll just be like, “Gosh – are we not in the loop ‘cause we’re in Kansas?” ‘Cause its really different, bein’ in such a small city, where you don’t go out and people go, “XV, XV!” And I’ve been doin’ music for so long that, when I go out in Kansas, it’s not striking to me that people know who I am. ‘Cause people know who I am ‘cause they went to school with me, I’ve done shows here, they know me for a different reason. But when I get on Twitter and I see @replies, and somebody’s saying, “@XtotheV is my favorite of all time!” or “‘Never Mind’ is the best song that I’ve heard in my entire life!” I think, “Wait, this doesn’t make sense. How is this even possible?” Like, how am I where I am, and people are acting like this about me. So it’s really weird to see the comments and see what people say about me online, and how they feel about my music, ‘cause in my mind I am always the underdog. Like, people will say I’m their favorite rapper, but there’s a always a bigger rapper. To think that people feel like they feel about my music every day – especially seein’ the DJBooth comments, ‘cause that sh*t be sometimes amazing! ‘Cause now, on DJBooth, all I see is, “Why isn’t he signed?” ?Why isn’t he signed?” “Why isn’t he signed?!” and I think, “Why am I not signed? These guys are asking the question!”
DJ Booth: They really invest themselves in the careers of the featured artists.
XV: Can I tell you my favorite DJBooth comment ever?
DJ Booth: Sure.
XV: All right. There was a comment I saw, and somebody said, “Who is with me in gathering up money to start a record label to sign XV to?” And people were like, “Me! I’m down, I’m down!” and I was like, “God, that is the craziest comment I ever saw!”
DJ Booth: Well, I’ll tell you something: if someone is willing to take a chunk of their savings account and start a record label just for you, I think that means that when you have a product on the shelves, or on the digital shelves, so to speak, they’ll definitely go out and shell out whatever it costs to get it.
DJ Booth: For most artists, all it takes is one dynamic project and their stock shoots through the roof. For you I believe that happened with the release of Everybody’s Nobody this past year. Do you believe that to the case, or is there one more pre-debut album release in you that will make “Everybody’s Nobody” an afterthought?
XV: I think that “Everybody’s Nobody” was it. I felt it was before I made it, I felt it was before it was released, when I sat there and watched the comments, and I saw the posts – and I still see, to this day, people sayin’, “I just heard of this dude XV. Download Everybody’s Nobody – this sh*t is crazy!” Like, seeing that on different days, and that came out July 31st, and it’s 2010, and people are still finding it – I feel like, that’s what skyrocketed me to become XV. That was the project. I won’t be able to make that again. My next mixtape, Vizzy Zone, isn’t trying to be that.
DJ Booth: You mentioned Vizzy Zone, the new project dropping in February. Now, artists usually tell me that they do projects for a variety of reasons: A, because they wanna do it for themselves, B, they wanna do it for their fans, C, they wanna do it just because, no reason whatsoever… Which one of those descriptions fits the new mixtape, Vizzy Zone?
XV: This one I’m really doin’ for my fans. I’m not doin’ it for my fans as far as, them just wanting music from me; I’m doin’ it because I know that my next project, the project I’ve been working on for the past two years, The Kid With the Green Backpack, I know that I’m gonna be releasing it this year, but I’m possibly gonna be releasing it April or May. So with me knowing that at the beginning of the year, I was thinking, “Gosh, fans are going to get frustrated with me.” ‘Cause, as a fan, I would get frustrated, because you can get music so fast now. And with me bein’ in the position I’m in right now, I need to hit them with something they can bump, since Everybody’s Nobody came out seven, eight months ago. So that’s my ultimate plan: give them some good music that follows up Everybody’s Nobody and that’s as good as Everybody’s Nobody, while I prepare The Kid With the Green Backpack which, right now, is amazing.
DJ Booth: See, I know how amazing it is, ‘cause you were kind enough, early last year to send me an advance copy of the project. One of the songs on it – and I don’t know if this will make the final cut – “Imagination,” which samples “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka. As we all know, in order to meet Wonka, you needed to win a golden ticket. So, do you you feel like, right now, you are finally on the verge of finding your golden ticket?
XV: Definitely. This is the year I actually feel sure. The other years I felt sure, I was like, “I’m gonna get it this year, it’s gonna happen,” “2008, it’s gonna happen,” “2009, it’s mine,” all [those years] I felt like it. But this year, I feel like 2008 and 2009 taught me how to prepare for this year. Like I said, I’m startin’ this year off hard. Like, doin’ this interview with you at the top of the year. And six months from now, I’m gonna listen to this interview and be like, “See? I knew ! I told you!” [laughs]
DJ Booth: [laughs] I read bios. I doubt a lot of people read bios, but I read bios, and I read the bio on your MySpace page, and there was a line in there that I found very interesting. It reads, “Sadly, with the rise of hip-hop becoming a household and popular sound came the downfall of its essence.” Very poetic.
XV: I wrote that. I like writing. [laughs]
DJ Booth: [laughs] It’s good to know that you didn’t have somebody pen that for you, and you had no idea what it meant.
DJ Booth: Do you believe that your music can help inject some much-needed lifeblood into this art form and culture, and will it take much more than just you to really change this perceived state, or do you feel like you can kind of spearhead this movement going forward?
XV: I think that I really can spearhead this movement, because there’s very few artists – I mean very, very, very few artists – who connect with the listener on a level where they’re actually, where the listeners actually feels like they’re that person. Very few artists are like that now, and I say that honestly because I am the most regular person. I feel like sometimes that’s one of my downfalls as a music artist, ‘cause every artist that I’ve met is the weirdest person. Like, “God, this guy is such a weirdo!” And even Wiz [Khalifa] – Wiz is a really cool dude, but he’s so weird, ‘cause he’s always high, and I’m like, “Gosh, what a weirdo,” and I’m just so regular. So it’s very rare to hear an artist and go, “God, that’s exactly like me!” If I could spearhead people being themselves again, that would be so awesome for people. Even if you’re the weirdest person, be weird in your music – don’t follow that path that the industry and the media and the labels creates for us. I get beats from Seven, who I think is one of the most amazing producers in the game. He’s just not a big name.
DJ Booth: You mentioned Seven, who I also believe is not so much underrated but under-the-radar, at least at this point. We took a bunch of reader questions for the interview, and the first one came from Mr. Top Hat – that’s his DJBooth pseudonym – he’s from New Delhi, India; he wrote, “How did you meet Seven originally, and do you see yourself working with him throughout your entire career?”
XV: All right, so when I met Seven, we were hunting for lions in the jungle. No, actually, that’s not what happened. He’s from Kansas City. He does work with Tech N9ne – like, any artist from Kansas City has worked with Seven, so he’s a really big name as far as the Midwest goes. So he was in a Guitar Center, buying a keyboard, and he has a tattoo of a Roman numeral “VII” on his neck. People always think that we made our names together, which is so gay, which we didn’t, but OK, and I was like, “I wonder if that’s Seven?” So I went up to him and I was like, “Are you Seven.” and he was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he’s all calm. And I’m like, “My name’s XV, da-da-da, I want to work with you.” and I gave him a mixtape. I had already started getting my buzz up and DJ Whoo Kid hosted it, and it had Game, Trey Songz, Gucci Mane, a lot of people that are huge now, but this was in 2005. He had never heard any Kansas artists like that, and he called me and he was like, “Yo, how do you know all these people.” and I was like “Yo, I just network a lot,” and he was like, “I really think your sound is dope, and you’re kinda in the direction I’m going in.” And that same day I went over to his house, and he played me beats, and that day I changed my sound completely. Me and Seven, basically we’re a two-member N.E.R.D., in my opinion. I’m the rapper, he’s the producer, that’s how we’re going to be doing it this whole time, for the rest of our career.
DJ Booth: Well, you definitely made Mr. Top Hat happy to hear that.
XV: That’s awesome! [laughs]
DJ Booth: Next question comes from Erykah of Kansas City, Kansas, your neighbor, and I’m not lying to you, Erykah wrote, “Would you like to take my virginity, baby?”
XV: No way! [laughs]
DJ Booth: Let me read that again for comedic purposes: “XV, would you like to take my virginity, baby?”
XV: Wow! “XV, would you like to take my virginity baby?”
DJ Booth: Comma, baby.
XV: Oh, “comma, baby.” [laughs uproariously]
DJ Booth: Yeah. Being that you are her baby.
XV: [laughs till wheezing] Oh, my God. Z, you should’ve saved that one for the last one. ‘Cause you can’t really top that now. What are you gonna ask me next?
DJ Booth: Well actually, the next question’s not gonna top that. We’ll get back to that one, Erykah. Frankie from Staten Island, New York wrote “XV, you seem like a very fashionable guy. What are your favorite clothing lines?”
XV: If anybody sees me, I’m always wearing SubConscious Threads, and that’s not only ‘cause they sponsored my mixtape. I actually wore SubCon Threads before they reached out to me.
DJ Booth: Well, you’re looking fly in all of it, and shout-out to SubCon. Dara knows, they actually did our DJBooth.net shirt.
XV: Yeah! Which I rock, like, all the tizzime! [laughs]
DJ Booth: I’m glad to hear that, and I’m sure you look fly in the black and white.
XV: I’ve got like three of them, too, so I rock all of them, one by one. They’re like, “God, you wear the same shirt all the time,” and I’ll be like [shouting] “No fool, I’ve got three of ‘em!”
DJ Booth: Well, let me now be the first to say, thank you for being a walking billboard; I truly appreciate it.
XV: [laughs] You’re welcome.
DJ Booth: Now, we’d be hard-pressed to not go back one question. I’m sure Erykah is waiting with bated breath. Again, XV, “Would you like to take my virginity, comma, baby?”
XV: [laughs] I’m gonna say that, because of my ex-girlfriends that I have done such a pleasure for, and they probably all hate me now, I’m going to save you the trouble and the hatred and the heartbreak of not doing that to you, ‘cause I still want you to be a fan of my music, and I don’t want you to hate me.
DJ Booth: OK, as [Erykah] listened to that answer she slowly started to rip up the poster that was hanging on the ceiling above.
DJ Booth: Hopefully she goes and supports the new project, Vizzy Zone, dropping in February. And of course the main project you’re dropping this year, that we’re all looking forward to, The Kid With the Green Backpack, hopefully this spring. Vizzy, give everybody a website, a MySpace page, a Twitter account, something social network-y where they can find out more about you.
XV: All right, the blog is thecoolniverse.com, You can also reach me at twitter.com/xtothev, myspace.com/xtothevizzy, and youtube.com/xtothev. Those are my social networking ways right there, if you wanna reach me. And, like I said, I am kinda reachable.
DJ Booth: Absolutely. And, if they don’t get their fill on all of your social networks, they can enjoy all of your music at DJBooth.net.
DJ Booth: Vizzy, as always, my friend, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you join me inside the Booth for an interview, and I hope 2010 is a great year for you.
XV: Definitely! Same with you, Z!