Having originally broken through on Chicago’s party rap scene in the late 2000’s, HXLT discovered a love of making music that spread far beyond just spitting rhymes over a beat. While his never-released rap album got caught up in label dramas, he focussed on crafting a sound that encapsulates his eclectic range of interests and lifestyles, from hardcore punk to gangsta rap, breakdancing to skateboarding, and after six years has finally unleashed his work as a self-titled album on Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music imprint.
As he and his crew make the journey to Atlanta in an 18 passenger van, to perform a co-headline show with Edinburgh’s Young Fathers, HXLT takes some time out to discuss the transition from party rapper to punk rocker, his love of subcultures and his debut album…
How do you feel about the reception to your self-titled album HXLT?
I’m feeling really good man, I was a bit nervous starting out because no one’s ever even heard of this music or heard of anything from me since before when I was rapping, so I didn’t know how it was going to be received at all. I would play it for everybody and then everybody would just tell me ‘It’s really dope’. But I’d be thinking ‘They’re my friends. Of course they’re going to tell me it’s dope’. So when it finally came out and everybody started freaking out about it, I just felt understood. I felt like people got me.
How was the process making this album? How long have you been recording it?
The thing about this album, me and my guy Le Fonz, when we started making it, we just started making songs, we didn’t really have any approach to making an album. I started making songs like six years ago with him, and we were basically learning. The first beats I ever made, the first songs I ever wrote are on this album. Which is why you can hear a progression throughout the album. Some songs are very minimal, some songs are a lot more intricate because this has been the process continuing.
We had three or four songs and a couple of covers made that we were just going to put out, but when Kanye heard it and he really liked it, and then he offered to sign there was this whole process of getting me out of my old deal, and signing a new one and whatnot. The process itself took long, but writing the songs themselves didn’t take as long. It was like a five or six-year process for everything to get set.
So the approach to the album was completely free. I just make sound, we decided not to think about genre or style. When we work, all we do is just make sounds that sound good to us, and it just happened to come out this way. I’m actually a very overly hyper, kinda psycho dude, and the music is kind of chill. But I don’t stop myself from making anything – if that’s what I hear, that’s what’s coming out, no matter what.