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The New Hype: Meet the Rapper-Singer Taking Over Los Angeles

A conversation with Blxst, who made one of the year’s best LPs with ‘No Love Lost.’ Plus the new hip-hop and R&B you need to know for December.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Blxst’s rise among Los Angeles’s best new talents is reminiscent of The Matrix’s pivotal scene, where Neo is presented with two options on where to take his life and the consequences that come with each. In Blxst’s case, he was left with the decision of whether to pursue his dreams or work to keep the relationships with his childhood friends and the mother of his child strong. As chronicled in his latest project, No Love Lost, he chose the former and is now reaping both the rewards and consequences of his actions.

“What I was going through was a transition,” Blxst said by phone earlier this month. “As far as falling out with friends, probably built a 10-plus-year relationship. So, me, I’m doing my own thing. … So it was a dedication to myself, really. It’s like, ‘No hard feelings, but you got to complete the mission that you started.’”


The project, initially released in September but repackaged as a deluxe album earlier this month, is a 14-song journey of nostalgic reckoning. Over the first nine tracks, Blxst paints a picture of his life through the prism of an eroding relationship with a woman. On the album’s title track, he expresses a need for a break to focus on his music. Though the woman is dope, the timing is bad. On “Overrated,” he walks the notion back, asking his lover if she’s “down to bleed the streets’’ with him, further proving her loyalty during the journey. But his tone, mirroring his life, begins to switch on “Gang Slide”—a 100-second interlude that uses “slide” as a double entendre for drive-bys and sex—when Blxst begins to see what success has done.

For the rest of the project, Blxst grapples with the loss of his lover, even as they share a space. “Be Alone” addresses the initial realization that his queen is slowly drifting away. “You be trippin’ on the time we don’t spend.”


“I pull up and gotta slide once again,” he raps. “You signed up, said you’d ride to the end. ... But you don’t wanna be alone.” By the end of the album, he’s lost the relationship completely and is left to reconcile the consequences of his actions. While the woman is based on the mother of his 3-year-old child, the album also represents friends he’s lost striving toward his dream—the ones who grew with him, despite him leaving his native East Los Angeles for Upland, California, at the behest of his mother, who feared for her boy’s safety. The results of his decision have been fruitful professionally, spurring three collaborations with Mozzy, an extended play with Los Angeles crooner Bino Rideaux named Sixtape, and calls for feature placements. But as No Love Lost suggests, success has come at a cost.

“I was laser-focused and sometimes everybody around didn’t understand that,” he said. “And that was basically what I stand for.”

The album is accompanied by a five-part short film of the same name released on YouTube. But instead of chronicling the loss of a lover, the film shows a lover’s betrayal, using the album to paint the narrative. In the film, a fictional Blxst and his girlfriend are convinced to participate in an undisclosed crime spree by his homeboy. Blxst is robbed late at night, beside his lover. Along the way, his girlfriend begins to feel neglected and falls into the arms of his homie. The pivotal turning point again comes at “Gang Slide,” when Blxst finds out the friend was behind the robbery, and his girl knew about the plot all along. By the end of the film, Blxst gets his revenge. He says the lady in the film serves as a symbol for chasing success and how it can be a farce.

“I painted a picture to where it was exactly what I was talking about, but I wanted to symbolize the woman as success,” he said. “And chasing success ... sometimes, it’s not what you think it is.”

These days, Blxst is seeing more examples of success. His deluxe project includes features from L.A. heavyweights Ty Dolla $ign, Tyga, and Dom Kennedy, and a follow-up with Bino is expected next year. The biggest symbol of ascent came this fall when he got a text from Top Dawg Entertainment’s engineer Derek “Mixed by Ali” Ali.

“He was like, ‘Yo, [J.] Cole in L.A., he wants to meet you,” Blxst recalled. “I’m like, ‘What?’”

Blxst obliged, pulling up to a Santa Monica studio to meet one of hip-hop’s elite. Upon arrival, Blxst says Cole geeked out to the crooner’s new music.

“Bro, I’m a big fan,” Blxst recalled Cole saying. “This is crazy.”

“It was crazy because I don’t know how he found my music,” Blxst said. “I’m just a little kid that was in L.A. just a couple of years ago, was in his room, making music and stuff to see all this come to fruition and stuff.”

The fall meeting with Cole shows how far Blxst has come and how much he’s lost along the way. But more importantly, he continues to learn the lesson Neo did in The Matrix: that the quest for a bigger purpose means sacrificing the life you once knew.

Premium Slappage

Savannah Ré


Toronto has a hold on the pop music scene with acts like Drake and the Weeknd. Savannah Ré brings a soulful alternative to the landscape. Her latest project, Opia, produced by OVO-superproducer Boi-1da, is a refreshing example of openness. The 25-minute confessional implements Caribbean melodies to complement her soulful vibe. Ré gives you strength during a breakup but also gives you room to hit up your ex if need be.

Reggie


Reginald Helms Jr. only has two songs to his name, but his vibe is undeniable. His latest single, “I Don’t Wanna Feel No More,” is a melancholy look at his current state. The track seems like a cry for help that no one is listening to. “The streets said you don’t need meds,” he croons on the chorus. “My mama said you just need prayer.” By the end of the track, the listener is left to reckon with the beauty in his sadness. The track comes months after his debut breakout single, “Southside Fade.” Not much is known about the Houston native, nor when a full-length project is set to release, but if it’s anything like what’s out now, his future is bright.

theMind


Philly has provided an abundance of vibey acts throughout the years, from the Roots to Jill Scott. theMind, born Zarif Wilder, is of the same ilk. He has collaborated with G Herbo, Chance the Rapper, Mick Jenkins, and NoName. His latest project, Don’t Let It Get to Your Head, reflects on the pain he faced as a youth. “Can’t buy happiness,” he raps on the album’s final track, “Atlas Complex.” “But look what the money do / In foster homes ain’t never seen this many smiles where I’m from / Scared of failing my family, I know that we still young / Tell me how many make it close to this point / Knowing I played the fool.” theMind’s vulnerability and voice cadence is reminiscent of TDE’s Sir.