Scarlxrd Ditches YouTuber Lifestyle and His Black Mask for Screamo Success
Scarlxrd could easily have your favorite new rapper beat when it comes to musical output. Three years in the game as a solo artist and the British rapper has already released seven projects. Count his time put in with his band Myth City prior to 2016, and it's clear Scarlxrd is serious about his craft. From his musical influences to life as a former YouTube personality, the 24-year-old Wolverhampton, England native opens up about his past in XXL's latest episode of Who Am I?.
For rap fans who aren't too familiar with his rise up hip-hop's ladder of success, Scarlxrd's music combines aggressive screaming, abrasive vocals and gasconade lyrics over bass-heavy beats. Think massive energy and explosive sounds that are best displayed on tracks like "Heart Attack" and "6 Feet."
After listening to his catalog of music, it's not surprising that artists like Eminem and Limp Bizkit inspired him on the come up. "So my sound is quite difficult to place I guess and that’s what inspires me the most about it," Scarlxrd tells XXL. "And that’s what I find I enjoy about it the most when it comes to creating it. You know, it's about just bringing elements together that inspire me. I listen to a lot of metal. I'm into my abrasive vocals. I love those kind of vocal techniques where, you know, the fried vocals and the heavy screaming. I love that so much. Im also heavily influenced by rap and current hip-hop and, you know, the current flow of things. Like I really really enjoy that.I feel like it has a certain energy to it."
Putting sound into words is a challenge for many artists, but Scarlxrd looks to the "grey area" where hip-hop and metal meet. "So, for me the kind of content I create is almost like finding that grey area between the two where I can make some really cool fucking hip-hop tunes but I'm screaming until my voice bleeds," he shares. "You know, and I feel like it just brings like a different type of energy. And I enjoy that so much when it comes to creating. The neighbors don’t really like it though. They get pissed [laughs]."
"Heart Attack," off his 2017 album, Chaxsthexry, currently sits at a solid 34 million streams on Spotify while the accompanying video is at 59 million YouTube views and counting. The track samples the car crash scene from the 2001 Tom Cruise flick Vanilla Sky and finds Scarlxrd in unadulterated screamo action.
"So the two songs I feel like that really set my career in motion, definitely 'Heart Attack' and '6 Feet,'" Scarlxrd explains. "I’ll speak on 'Heart Attack' first. It was a track that implemented a lot of elements and the way it came together was just this flower of different parts but together just made sense. So I rapped my ass off in that like double-time section towards the beginning. And at the end, there's like a breakdown almost. And that coupled with the imagery when that was all happening kinda really, you know, it hit the nail on the head in that kind of grey area."
"And I feel it connected with a lot of people and a lot of people saw where the sound could potentially go," he continues. "Like I feel like it was something that had already happened; I'm not the first person to scream on songs or I'm not the first person to rap fast. But I feel like it was the first of what it was to be packaged the way it was so when that first hit the internet like they just took it and ate it and ran with it. And shit blew up, it was crazy."
When it comes to "6 Feet," the second most popular track of his career thus far, Scarlxrd, born Marius Listhrop, gives a glimpse inside his mind, where demons reside. "I've been through the worst and yet I'm still here standing strong/Step into my mind, you'll last two seconds then you're gone/Demons in my penthouse know the words to all my songs," the MC raps.
"That song to play live, I think it might be one of them songs that I’ll play live forever," Scarlxrd says. "It's definitely got like a insane sing-along energy to it. And when people hear it, they are drawn to play it again and again and again because it's got such like an addictive factor to it. And the way the song is structured and the way it just progresses, you just want to play that shit over and over and over again.
"Again accompanied with the visual, which we shot not far from my house in Wolverhampton," he reveals of the song's video, which currently rests at 20 million YouTube views. "We broke into like an abandoned car factory. We just saw it, we hopped the fence, we shot that shit in 10 minutes and we dipped. That, accompanied with the abrasive sound, and just the energy of the track and just the flows I was using, it just caught on and caught fire."
A look at Scarlxrd's past music videos and his Instagram page prove he's got an affinity for darker imagery and all black ’fits, which is in stark contrast to the person he is off the mic. Don't let the music fool you; this guy's got a witty sense of humor and a smile fit for the next release of grinning emojis. His cheery personality was showcased for the world to see when he was living the YouTuber lifestyle under the alias Mazzi Maz in 2012.
"There's a rule in my house that when you hit 18, you get kicked out the house," he admits. "I watched my two brothers get kicked out. I looked and said, 'That ain't happening to me...' So, I was at college and I was just thinking, shit what can I do? I came across YouTube and I, you know, made like three videos. And I think I made like three pounds 10 in one month. And, you know, that was enough for me. I was like cool, if I double down and if I go hard and if I just go in, fuck working. I can just do this. And that's exactly what I did. I moved out before she [my mom] could kick me out. I guess that's the first job I had under the alias Mazzi Maz."
Following his time as Mazzi Maz, Scarlxrd kicked off his music career when he formed the nu metal rap band Myth City in 2014. The four-piece band was his early entry into the music business before he sought solo stardom on his own. Early Scarlxrd supporters not only took notice of his screamo sound, but also the black mask he'd typically wear in his music videos. While the allure and mystery of the man behind the mask only added to his increasing popularity, the accessory was representative of a different time in his rap career. These days, Scarlxrd has ditched the mask and has let the music sound off for itself.
"The mask was something that I felt like was crucial to my visual art and my sound," he expresses. "As I develop and as I grow, my perspective just changes and I honestly feel like image and you know aesthetic and all that shit is a complete waste of my fuckin' time. You know, I just want to make great tunes now. I just want to make music now. I just want to really get down to business, get in the studio, get going, get writing, get yelling."
The studio is where Scarlxrd finds bliss. From his debut solo project, スカー藩主, in 2016, to his seventh album, Infinity, which arrived in March, he has nearly 100 songs—without features—released for public consumption. "I’m quite prolific with releasing music," Scarlxrd discloses. "Honestly, that’s not really down to something that I strategically think about and be like ah, ah, I want to make as much music as I can and saturate it. I honestly sit on my ass and just make music all day. That is how my day goes. I wake up, I make a tune, eat breakfast make a fucking tune. Get on the phone to the producers, send me beats."
"It's something that I just enjoy doing so much and doing constantly. The inevitable outcome of that is hella projects, hella music. Does this boy ever shut up? Like I just keep going and I just keep hammering it, you know. I guess it’s a good thing that I'm so inspired and so driven just to create music. Honestly, it's something I love to do so I'll just keep doing it."
Next up, Scarlxrd will be releasing his eighth studio album, IMMXRTALISATIXN via his own imprint, Lxrd Records, distributed by Island Records, later this year.
"So, the next project I'm going to be releasing is called IMMXRTALISATIXN," he affirms. "It's gonna be a big album, tons of tracks, no features. All me. I just lock myself in my room and just got down to business. Just made it happen. I feel like how this project differs from all the last ones, it still carries a lot of qualities that people enjoy about me and my sound, but I kinda put that on the backburn and, you know, I never make projects to facilitate for my listeners, but I always have them in mind."
Progress is what he strives for with this forthcoming effort. "I always try and make my own progression," the jubilant artist maintains. "I always try to make something, you know, where I'm respecting the integrity of my creative flow and where it's going. Yeah, this album, it's gonna be a lot more, you know, it's more abrasive in areas, but it's also a lot cleaner in areas, a lot more tidy, a lot more rapping and stuff. It contradicts itself, the whole thing. You're gonna have to listen to it
Get to know Scarlxrd in XXL's Who Am I? up top.
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