COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the nightlife industry, including the kickback — a party's relaxed cousin. It's a modern staple of a mellow night out pre-COVID — often consisting of you, a group of friends, red disposable cups, and music to listen to while getting in the zone to potentially party afterward (but, nine times out of ten, you just end up going home).
There isn’t a lot of music coming out during the pandemic that captures this missed experience like there is for party songs trekking our favorite new moves. But Los Angeles' rapping-singer Blxst has this particular niche covered with his debut album No Love Lost, which came out in September with a follow up of its deluxe edition that dropped earlier this month.
Blxst’s age and real name aren’t necessary, so that’s why they aren’t publicly available. The South Central-born rapper is less of an artist and more of an idea — that tightly-rapped R&B songs have a place in the market next to melodic rappers and whispering singers. He packs the narrow focus of soul music on particular experiences and relationships into sizable records that are more lyrical showcase than a ballad. Take “Wrong or Right,” for instance, where he lovingly contemplates the weight of the empire that he's building while softly serenading a lover who's sitting on the bed next to him, listening intently. It's not often you hear this eclectic mix of styles, and listeners have taken note. This has led to 2020 being a breakout year for him all around.
Blxst explains over Zoom how weird this year has been because of the juxtaposition of finally making a name for himself and having to deal with the pandemic’s impact on his mobility. “It’s like a gift and a curse for me,” he says. “Because, of course, I've been putting out music and getting a good reception, finally, but I feel like the only downfall is that I ain't been able to really do live shows, and that's what I am really look forward to doing, just feeling that energy from the crowd. So yeah, it's been half and half.”
Once the world opens back up completely, it’s a safe to bet that Blxst will be even bigger than he is now. The world’s already taken to the collection of lurid, nostalgic, and two-step worthy songs that comprise No Love Lost and now, they’re becoming familiar with its deluxe edition that features six new songs with artists like Tyga, Ty Dolla $ign, and Dom Kennedy on them. Though deluxe editions have become a bit par the course, Blxst’s reason for releasing one makes the most sense since he produced the entirety of No Love Lost’s original album by himself. “I brought in some of the producers that I rock with,” he says. “And then I wanted to do some features as well, so I grabbed the big dogs of West Coast just to showcase I can hang with them.”
Here’s Blxst on his breakout year, his deluxe edition of No Love Lost, and more below.
This year has presented many challenges, yet 2020 happens to be your breakout year. How does it feel to have had that happen during the pandemic?
It’s like a gift and a curse for me. Because, of course, I've been putting out music and getting a good reception, finally, but I feel like the only downfall is that I ain't been able to really do live shows, and that's what I am really looking forward to doing, just feeling that energy from the crowd. So yeah, it's been half and half.
Does that build the anticipation for when the pandemic's over? Does it make it more nerve-wracking?
I feel like it does build up the anticipation. Because I see a lot of tweets, like, "I can't wait till I can go see Blxst live." People are all waiting for shows, so it's going to be big when that time does come around.
It's been a few months since No Love Lost has been out. How does it feel to see people still responding to it?
Man, it's been great. And I feel like the pandemic was part of the reason why I got a good reception. People were able to sit down and actually listen to what I'm saying, to actually feel the words, instead of just vibing to the music.
To me, it sounds like you can have a kickback to this kind of music. So, I just wanted to ask you, what was your inspiration for making it?
It came out of me going through a transition, just as a man. I felt like I owed something to myself at this moment. Sometimes, the ones around you don't understand the mission that you're on. So it's just another saying for no hard feelings. But I felt like No Love Lost just hit harder. That's what it represents for me.
What made you decide to release a deluxe edition?
The deluxe came from me listening to my fans. After I put out the original, they were saying, "We want more music." The songs are short, but it was a good project. I also wanted to work with other producers on the deluxe because the original was all produced by me. . So I brought in some of the producers that I rock with. And then I wanted to do some features as well, so I grabbed the big dogs of West Coast just to showcase I can hang with them, the Ty Dolla $igns and the Tygas and Dom Kennedys. Shout out Bino, as well.
What was the decision like to release the songs that have the collaboration? Because I saw the DJ Booth interview. You had made a point of releasing the debut without any features.
Yeah, I think it was a good tone to set, especially closing the year off. The original project did so well, which is me. I felt like it would only add icing to the cake to bring in some dope features. So it was all up for me.
Would you say you prefer collaborating with other producers and other artists or working alone?
I mean, I'm always more comfortable working with myself, being that I record myself and I do everything at home. That's my comfort zone, though. So stepping outside of the box, working with other people is always dope to me because it's something different. It's something new, it's a different perspective, but I'm still getting used to that.
Yeah. So, my next question is about the song that you collaborated with Dom Kennedy on. I feel like we don't hear too much from him, so how did you make that happen?
Man, that was an inside connection. Dom is from the trenches of LA. So, we got a couple of mutual friends, though, and they pretty much plugged us together. I was telling him I felt like Don fit perfectly for this record. And his voice is just so unique. I felt like he would set that tone and that LA vibe. So, shout out Archie Davis and shout out my boy Moe at Def Jam. They pretty much plugged the whole situation.
You collaborated with Tyga and Ty Dolla $ign for "Chosen." And I saw on Twitter that Ty Dolla $ign, called you his little bro. I just wanted to ask you, how was it collaborating with him? And did he give you any advice?
Man, I've -always respected his grind, seeing where he started from it and where he took it. So we got a relationship beyond the music and I felt like he just always be uplifting me, just telling me, "Go crazy." He always believed in me since I first started doing music, so just to have an official song with him is dope. It came around full circle.
When you spoke to DJ Booth, you talked about the importance of putting out No Love Lost with no features and you hinted at expanding the sound. Now that you've done that, what’s the next chapter look like to you right now?
Just continuing to put out quality music. I feel like I'm still in first impression mode, so I want to showcase that I'm able to stay consistent with it as well. Next project, I want it to be bigger and better, with more live instruments. A full length project. This was just an EP, so it’s just a teaser to what I really can get into.
Photo: Brandon Hicks