In the popular Japanese anime series, Naruto, the title character is an adolescent ninja on the quest to be recognized for greatness. His dream is to become the Hokage, who is the undisputed leader and the strongest of his people. Naruto is driven by the sole belief that he will be the absolute best at what he does. When it comes to making music, Dallas’ own Xes (born X’zavier Edwards) takes cues from the fictional hero he so closely identifies with. Both as an artist and producer, Edwards too strives to be the best at what he does. With the release of his debut project, Xes embarks on his own ninja-like quest for notoriety that has the rapper/singer excited for what’s to come.
Primarily known as a member of the popular Dallas hip-hop collective Braingang, Xes first gained attention as a producer. His hypnotic production on the regional hit, "Can't Come Down" by A.Dd+ caught the ears of publications like Spin Magazine and XXL. The soundscapes Xes produces have been described as very broad and experimental, as you may find him sampling everything from soul, electronic, trip hop to even classical music. However when it comes to his own songs, Xes’ biggest influence may once again be his love for anime and the Japanese culture that spawned it.
While Xes has been producing and writing music since high school, it was his 2015 trip to Tokyo that truly ignited his ambitions as an artist. He found himself walking the very same streets as some of his favorite anime characters which left Xes full of inspiration. Spending time in the Japanese capital is what convinced him to step out from behind the boards and grab the microphone “Tokyo’s simplicity sparked my imagination. Everything there is so clean and crisp, from the streets and transportation to the architecture and food. I decided I wanted my music to be the same way,” he explains. Japanese fashion also plays a heavy-hand in his new music. “They are loud and brave with everything they wear. Statement pieces don’t exist, the whole outfit is a statement,” declares Xes. It is that dichotomy of simple melodies and abrupt attacks of sound that epitomize Xes music. He undoubtedly has begun to master the formula for combining the functional and fashionable influences he experienced in Japan into the songs he created for his debut project.
However, Xes’ new music didn’t start off as “project” at all. “I produced the best beats I possibly could then decided to throw hooks on all of them,” says Xes, “I like to call myself the Sensei of All Hooks.” Ultimately, after compiling an impressive batch of beats with extremely catchy hooks, Xes decided to finish them all into complete songs and see where it would take him. “I just started stacking song after song and eventually it became a great album,” he reveals.
An early, unfinished version of the album was enough to catch the attention of the HIGH STANDARDz label who quickly signed Xes to a record deal upon listening. Xes’ debut album aims to bring back a nostalgic era of music mixed with the youthful energy of today and a highly experimental approach to blending sounds. “I don’t want to be easily put into one genre,” claims Xes. And it is hard to do so as the artist trades raps for crooning vocals and hints of falsetto on many of his tracks. While many songs deal with relationships and women, Xes can insert a song about police brutality and the current state of his culture without it seeming out of place. It is clear Xes will be kicking down doors in the industry with his debut and similar to his anime-friend Naruto, is well on his way to being mentioned amongst the best at what he does.