My name is Jesse and I am a Vancouver-based rapper called XYL(pronounced 'Exile'). In this blog I hope to let you in on my day-to-day grind to elevate my career and become internationally recognized. My goal is to blow up in Canada, the US, the Orient and everywhere else. I am particularly interested in Asia and hope to perform in China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. I am currently studying Korean and have gotten into some Japanese as well and most of my current fans are from Asia.
I generally perform in Vancouver around two to three times per month though I am trying to cut this down to once to allow me more time to focus on marketing and publicity planning and studying. I am also a show promoter and often put together the shows I am playing at. My next performance will be an event I've organized called 'Wordz From Tha Underground' on January 18th at the Lamplighter in Gastown (210 Abbott Street). Doors are at 9, Show starts at 9:30 and cover charge is 8$. Below is a Q&A with me concerning the event:
Q: What made you decide to start ‘Wordz From Tha Underground’?
A: Vancouver city is known for its hip hop. Despite that fact, there is not a lot of support for the underground rap scene here. When a big-name rap artist comes through town, the show is sold out but I have found that the same people won’t necessarily come out and support the local artists. With ‘Wordz From Tha Underground’ I am trying to raise awareness of the immense talent that exists within Vancouver. I am making every possible effort to promote this event and ensure that the artists who perform have an audience to perform to. I hope to get underground artists noticed by the public so they can gain more recognition and build their identities.
Q: How do you feel about the current state of the Vancouver live hip hop scene?
A: I know I’ve said it before but we have some serious talent here that so many people don’t even realize. MCs that would blow your mind as well as incredible DJs and producers. The majority of the live hip hop I have seen is excellent, great performances and a very unified vibe, the exact opposite of the negativity and ‘beef’ that is so often associated with hip hop music.
The only issue I have come across is low show turnout. I don’t necessarily think this is a genre-specific problem, as getting people out to live shows in Vancouver is difficult regardless of the style of music. People want name-recognition, they want to see an artist whose songs they know, they generally aren’t open to taking a chance on acts they’re never heard or seen before. With ‘Wordz From Tha Underground’ however, I am booking only quality acts so I can guarantee that as long as you dig hip hop, you will enjoy the show.
Q: What is the line-up like for the first night of the event?
A: Headlining the event we have Manik, a veteran of the local rap scene and an amazingly talented MC. He recently won the ‘Song Clash’ competition at club Sonar where 18 hip hop acts square off to show who has the best original material and stage presence. Manik also just release a video for his song ‘Commercial Drive’, based on that same famous Vancouver street.
Then there is KEEP 6, a group of MCs with serious skills. Kai, formerly of Methods of Mayhem with Tommy Lee, is producing their beats and their lyrical ability is show-stopping.
Also, I will be on the bill with my DJ Tre Funk. I have been playing live shows on the regular here and have one EP under my belt, ‘Twisted Genius’. I just finished recording a new single which I will be performing in addition to the material from my EP. I will be touring Canada in 2007 and am working to build my identity in Asia, specifically Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China. I am expecting to tour those countries in 2008.
Character Traits, a 5-piece group from Nanaimo on Vancouver island will be representing and I expect them to fully kill it. They have just released their second album, ‘Pencil Pushers’, have just finished recording a video and have opened for big names such as Sweatshop Union and Kyprios.
Last on the agenda is 526 Music out of Burnaby. A little bit of hip hop, a little bit of R&B and a lot of talent. They are new on the scene but are sure to make big moves as their career develops. Hopefully ‘Wordz From Tha Underground’ can help them get noticed.
If you got the time, check out my website here: xylmc.com
And here is my myspace page: myspace.com/xylmc
I have one EP under my belt, 'Twisted Genius', which is kinda a different approach to the standard hip hop formula. I used almost all live instruments and had a live drummer lay down the beats. I dig some of the songs on there but I have decided to not press up any more copies and instead focus on my new material. The new songs I am currently working on have much higher production value and are more commercially viable. It's a struggle I've gone over in my head but the bottom line is, if I want international recognition I have to make songs that are somewhat mainstream. I have three new songs forthcoming which I will release on a promo CD and then I will be launching a marketing campaign to raise awareness as well as keep recording until I have a full-length record. Stay tuned for the new stuff, it truly does kick ass. In the meantime, you can log onto my website or myspace to hear my current material.