I think this is a fair enough question. XV is a rapper from Wichita, Kansas who seemed primed to breakout every year. XV first emerged with his mixtape 40 Days/40 Nights where he released one song in the morning and evening for 40 days straight. Then he got some more attention with 2009's Everybody's Nobody. That is when it seemed XV was primed to become the next underground superhero. He was working with Just Blaze and signed a deal with Warner Bros. Every year, the comment section on blogs across the internet always mentioned how XV got snubbed from being an XXL freshmen. He didn't let that stop him. In 2011 he released Zero Heroes, a mixtape featuring the likes of Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Pusha T so it's not like he was working with strictly the underground of the underground. He was working with established guys and dudes who were set to blow up next. Still, no album though. Then the next year he dropped another mixtape, Popular Culture to some more rave reviews. However, still no album and then it felt like only the hardcore fans were the ones still following him. The push for him to get on the XXL cover diminished over the next few years. He temporarily slid out of irrelevancy last spring with his March Madness series but that was short lived. With this post, I'm going to try and see why and how XV seemingly fell off and how he can come back.
I have literally no idea what XV has been up to or where he is even chilling at. He's been MIA. It's kind of startling to be honest. He was supposed to be the next underground emcee to break on through to the mainstream but that was almost three years ago. I can't even find an interview written or on youtube since 2012. In an age where someone's every move, even if you are a minor celebrity, is recorded somehow there is an argument to be that the fact XV has been able to pull a Houdini is more impressive than him actually releasing an album. The only news we've gotten from him are promises that the album is coming and his March Madness series from a year ago. His twitter doesn't reveal anything. I haven't been able to find anything about his whereabouts on any message boards. All speculation and whatnot. So to answer the main topic of the article...My hands are up in the air about what happened to XV. He might be dead for all I know.
Say XV released his album back in late 2012 or 2013 like when it was supposed to be, allow me to offer my best oracle impression. I believe XV would have been a hit. He had catchy tracks, got co-signs from notable artists like Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Talib Kweli, and Pusha T amongst others. Like I said earlier, Just Blaze was and for all I know is still set to executive produce the album. Just Blaze knows a little something about churning out hits. If you don't know who Just Blaze is, then wikipedia him. If you never heard of XV's music, picture a nerdy cross between J Cole and Lupe Fiasco. Late 2000's rap saw the genre move away from the gangsta rapper and ushered in acts like Kid Cudi, Drake, and the aforementioned Cole and Lupe. XV took the go against the grain approach and took it even further. He would spit about Wichita (his hometown), comic books, sample Smashing Pumpkins, and just do things out of the ordinary even for "conscious" rappers. The only question I would have for XV as a commercial artist is what kind of hits he would bring. He showed with Awesome that he can make a positive radio hit that could be played on commercials and self-esteem promos until the end of time but the question is whether or not he could make money. AKA make that club banger. That gets the radio spins which equals to getting the paper. XV seems like a grounded enough dude to at least try and stick to his guns and make an XV album versus making a Warner Bros album. Maybe that is what the delay has been about. Maybe XV isn't willing to compromise and that is why the album still has not come out. Who knows? But if he is really bashing heads with label execs they would have dropped him a long time ago. Labels don't put up with that. They know there are numerous rappers eager to jump at the chance to make a radio hit if that means becoming a company yes man.
Another theory I heard was that XV just hasn't been the same without longtime producer Seven. They had a falling out or something because they don't work together anymore which is kind of significant because part of the reason of how XV blew up was because of the music that he had conjured up with Seven. That's like running for President and then you and your running have beef over something and now you need a new running mate. There are obviously other candidates to replace your running mate and they might even be more talented but the replacement can't come in and replicate the same chemistry you had with the original one. It's that unspoken bond two people have that allows them to create something beautiful they can't necessarily match when working with someone else. Who knows. Maybe Seven felt some type of way about XV working with bigger names and felt he was getting left in the dust after all the work he had put in. Maybe XV was getting an ego and since he was on the move constantly, couldn't respond to Seven in timely manners. Who knows? I'm just throwing rumors out there which I am sure XV and Seven can appreciate. Oh well, free country. Maybe them seeing this will get them back into the lab together. You both aren't doing anything anyways. Might as well give it another shot. I don't even want any compensation for being the mediator. Just give the people what they want.
I really hope this helped slide XV back into your relevancy. I know I had zero thoughts about him until I came across one of his tracks while the iTunes was on shuffle. I'm pulling for him. Although absolutely every molecule of his momentum has evaporated, it would be a nice comeback story for XV to get some shine. Hell if he can crank out some hits, I think he'll actually do better than if he came out when he was supposed to because he would have more of an underdog story which we all know the media will eat up. The question then will be (other than if he ever breaks out) will be if it will be some 15 minutes of fame type stuff or was XV fooling us all and is a secret rap/mogul genius hiding out in farm country (or whatever Kansas is known for, other then perennial underachieving basketball teams).
Blu- The Only One