I scroll through Twitter on the daily. I keep my SoundCloud stream consistently refreshed. I read the blogs. I listen to the interviews. I wait patiently with my metaphorical surfboard under my arm, looking for the next wave to catch. Yet, when Xavier Omär’s ripple began gaining momentum, I missed it entirely.
Luckily for me and anyone else who’s been sleeping on Xavier, it’s not too late. As his newly released and aptly titled The Everlasting Wave EP suggests, his movement has no intention of being a passing fad.
Formerly known as SPZRKT (pronounced “Spazzy Rocket”), Xavier began his solo singing career in 2012 and started garnering attention after being discovered by producer Sango and the Soulection collective. Just last year, SPZRKT & Sango delivered a delightful EP together, Hours Spent Loving You, where Xavier’s heavenly voice croons with a cadence reminiscent of Miguel, a soul akin to Leon Bridges, and a tender heart that would make John Legend weep. I missed that wave, too.
In fact, the first time I was introduced to SPZRKT was on Noname’s first Telefone single, “All I Need.” It’s a beautiful duet, but I still didn’t clue into the star power of the featured artist. Maybe it’s because I had no idea how to pronounce SPZRKT, which, as it turns out, is precisely the reason he decided to switch to his real name.
“It’s hard for people to identify the brand [when] they don’t know how to say it. And that makes things difficult. You can have all the plays in the world, but if the right people don’t even know how to say your brand, it makes it difficult.” - Xavier Omär, Periscope
My ignorance came to an end on Oct. 14, 2016, when The Everlasting Wave became a staple in my life’s soundtrack. But since I had so much music to catch up on, I decided to go straight to the source to get my questions answered.
My first inquiry to the Chicago-based up-and-comer was about the EP’s artwork—a confusing, kaleidoscope-esque jumble that clearly meant something to Xavier.
“I sat down with Daniel Lint, a Seattle-based artist, and talked about how I wanted the feeling of each song people played to be represented in the cover,” Xavier explained. “So, he had the idea of making each song its own cover and then mixing them together in the final EP cover. So now, as you listen and look at the cover, like many of us do, you can see the feeling.”
If you scroll through Lint’s Instagram, you can see the individual song cover art and instantly recognize the way the minimalistic pieces combine to create the complex final result. The effective symbolism is a well-executed introduction to an equivalently complex project.
My first impression of the music, on the other hand, was that Xavier was a feminist. From the opening track, “Blind Man,” it’s evident that he has a love and respect for women that is often lost in the traditionally misogynistic themes of hip-hop and R&B, especially in today’s trap soul and ratchet-and-blues saturated soundscape.
“It comes from how my dad and brother taught me to treat my mother and my sister,” he explains. “It's a shame that men ever felt we had to put down anyone to be great. It's even more troubling in R&B and hip-hop when we consider how many of our greats only had their mothers.”
I have to admit: as a man who similarly appreciates and adores women, Xavier pushing this ideal couldn’t have made me happier. It’s been a struggle rapping along to 21 Savage with my girlfriend in the car. “The use of women as accessories, the over sexualization of their bodies, the thought that they have to give us their attention or their bodies, none of that is okay,” he went on. With more artists like Xavier Omär, maybe feminism and hip hop can begin to get along.
“Body like a queen / but it ain’t about your body, baby / it’s about your being.” - Xavier Omär, “Blind Man”
It’s also notable that The Everlasting Wave boasts no features, despite Xavier lending his voice in the past to the likes of Mick Jenkins and Noname, among others. He clarified that it wasn’t a result of ego; he wasn’t out to prove anything by carrying the project alone. It just “kind of happened,” he says, and the result is that the EP’s story of attraction, love, and heartbreak are an honest expression of his own personal life—a wonderful introduction for a first-time listener like myself.
Though he hails from San Antonio, Xavier has experienced life in many places, thanks to his ex-Air Force father moving his family around. “I think that's why it's hard for me to stick to a particular sound, even within one genre. Sonically, I want to stay rooted in R&B but I believe my voice and message will make room for me in the pop world. I won't become a pop artist in sound, but I think I'll be in those popular spaces which is important for my message.”
So...what’s his big message?
“The forever message is that Jesus actually cares about our everyday lives. From that, you get these love songs that lift us, or songs from my darker times that recognize our brokenness but won't allow us to stay broken.”
I’m not a religious man, and I have no intent on becoming one, but Xavier’s art speaks to me about love and forgiveness with the spiritual acuity that religious men like him are prone to have. At the very least, I can thank Jesus for influencing artists like Xavier to produce universal love songs.
I wrapped our interview by asking Xavier what he’s been listening to lately. Endless and Blonde were at the top of his list. “I hope to be able to express lyrically as well as someone like Frank does,” he said.
One listen to his new EP should make clear he’s well on his way. Xavier hopes to win a GRAMMY someday (his “selfish dream”), and with Frank eschewing the awards, there might just be a spot for him in the near future.
For now, let’s enjoy his gorgeous new EP, get all up in our feelings, and join the Xavier Omär wave like we should have long ago.
By Kareem (@kareemchic), who can’t wait to condescendingly say, “You don’t know about Xavier Omär?” to everyone he can.
Photo Credit: Jeremiah Warren