Hailing from South Central, 29-year-old Blxst – real name Matthew Burdette – comes from a place full of rich hip-hop history where rappers and crooners like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Nate Dogg all thrived to make timeless music; and Blxst himself wants to continue in the same strides as those legends.
Known for his laidback delivery of thoughtful tales ranging from love to self-determination, he first burst onto the scene with his debut project ‘No Love Lost’. After releasing joint mixtape ‘Sixtape’ in 2019 with friend and fellow West Coast star Bino Rideaux, and having produced tracks for a few LA peers like Eric Bellinger and Problem, it was ‘No Love Lost’ that got the world to subscribe to his charming, sun-soaked music.
Featured in the XXL Freshman Class list in 2021, and nominated for ‘Best New Hip Hop Artist’ Nomination at the BET Hip Hop awards the same year; he’s just released new mixtape ‘Before You Go’ – the latest segment in Blxst’s musical universe. This time, you can hear Blxst speak more about how he’s coping with his grind to the top as he tries to make it to the pinnacle of the music world.
For the latest in NME’s In Conversation series we caught up with Blxst, who discussed his new mixtape, creating a musical series, and why it’s important to be selfish when it comes to your dreams. Here’s what we learned.
‘Before You Go’ still lives between rap and R&B
Blxst is known for creating genre-blending tunes, and with his music living in a sweet spot between rap and R&B, it gets harder by the day to define just where Blxst belongs musically; but to him, he doesn’t “look at [himself] as an R&B artist… [or] as a rapper. [I] just see myself as an artist”.
“I think it’s all perspective for me…I think most people will put me in a R&B box because of the subject matter, which is love; but, to me, I feel like I’m rapping in a melodic form, just talking about love,” he explains.
He adds that he doesn’t feel constricted by any one genre: “I don’t feel pressure [to be one of the two genres]. I feel like we live in a day and age where you can do whatever you want. I can make a country song right now, as long as it sounds good it would be accepted.”
Hobbies help Blxst stay grounded
Blxst is a man who keeps busy. Last time we spoke he discussed his interest in taking up skateboarding as a hobby; and he also does graphic design alongside his music. In fact, most artwork you’ll have seen for Blxst’s songs are done by the LA native himself.
Giving us an update on his other creative outlets, Blxst reveals he still can’t do an ollie; but lets it be known that taking time out for himself, when he can, is still important.
“I haven’t been skateboarding as much just because I’ve been traveling so much early this year; but I’m always doing graphic design. I’ve been in my hotel rooms trying different stuff, and in different videos [I’ve been doing] different graphics, and, yeah, I’m just getting better at that.
“I think it’s very important even just for your mental health as well [to have a hobby], because I get so wrapped up in music and being Blxst that sometimes you forget who Matthew is. I just want to tap into it, and what I really love to do as well — not saying I don’t love to do music. There’s just a lot of obligations that come with being an artist.”
He does it all for his child
Having a child can change your whole perception of the world; so when asked what moment in his life made Blxst want to chase his dreams, it wasn’t a shock that he named the time he had his son.
He cites his child being born as a moment when he knew he needed to make chasing his dreams a priority, explaining: “I just realised I owe everything [I have] to him, but I had nothing to give him, so I had to pour into myself. I was forced to pour into myself, to the point where I’m in a position to provide for somebody else. That’s the first realisation I had to come to, like, ‘Damn! I need to look out for myself before I can look for somebody else’.”
‘Before You Go’ is a part of a musical series
Speaking to NME last year Blxst discussed his desire to create multi-project series in his work. He explained: “The way Kanye West had the series: The College Dropout, Graduation – the way they led into each other. I want to recreate that.”
It’s something that’s now present in his own music, as he explains ‘Before You Go’ is: “a part two of ‘No Love Lost’, you can still feel the love in there but it’s going through a harsh reality as well.”
Blxst also adds that creating his latest project saw new tests: “I had to be creative while being on the road, which was a challenge for me because I don’t like flying. It’s trying to be creative while managing fears and moving around, and dealing with other people.”
Rick Ross is a huge inspiration
On ‘Before You Go’ Blxst works with a series of collaborators, including Floridan rap legend Rick Ross. Featuring on the triumphant ‘Couldn’t Wait For It’, on the tune the two self-made businessmen talk about chasing their dreams and making it to where they are now.
It’s a second collaboration for the duo, with Blxst explaining: “We had another song together that was on his album [‘Make It Out Alive’ from Ross’ 11th album ‘Richer Than I’ve Ever Been’] and then I ended up sending him [‘Couldn’t Wait For It’] so it was love off the shirt.”
Blxst adds that Ross is an inspiring figure in his career, both in and outside of music. “Him as an entrepreneur, being a boss, that’s kind of the role I want to step into moving forward with my music career.”