Left Coaster Blxst has been making waves for all the right reasons since he emerged on our radar. Back in September he dropped his debut EP ‘No Love Lost’, where he showcases his strengths in singing, rapping and producing – all while recanting a personal story with themes of betrayal, love and loss. While it was well received, fans and critics yearned for more of the polished, almost signature style that shaped his debut. All while clocking in at just under 19 minutes, mind you. Blxst built on those eight tracks and released a deluxe version in December – serving the dual purpose of adding contextual layers to the story he told and giving listeners a 14-track dose of what sounds like album quality music. With a growing list of co-signs that includes big hitters like Rick Ross, Dom Kennedy and Ty Dolla Sign, the newcomer is on track to transcend regional star status. Back in March, we sat down with the Los Angeles born artist via Zoom to chop it up about ‘No Love Lost’, tapping into his pain, fatherhood and much more in our latest Cover Story.
Growing up as the youngest male in the family can be challenging anywhere, especially in the infamous South Central area of LA, where Blxst came up in his adolescence. Rather than fall into the usual traps that are set for young African-American men to fall into, he found a love, a solace if you will, in the music. “I grew up in East LA so I really could’ve been into all that. But my dad just gave me that sense of discipline and taught me how to fend for myself. Cook for myself and just manage my time. As far as music goes, it just allowed me to focus on one thing at a time rather than be everywhere at once”. Blxst wears a bright smile instantly as he joins the call, reflecting on recent developments. “Everything’s been good. I really have no complaints. A lot of good feedback right now so I’m just motivated to keep going”. Within his solace, he has also started to garner a level of success that he couldn’t envision back in 2016, when he released his very first song ‘Who Would’ve Thought’. “Putting out this project just boosted my confidence and gave me reassurance that I’m doing this for the right reasons. I’m not in this game to be mediocre, I really wanna push the envelope and be one of the GOATS when it’s all said and done”.
Fast forward a few years to his debut project ‘No Love Lost’ and its vivid depiction of the painful erosion of a relationship with a woman – detailing the elements that contributed to that fallout. On recalling the pain he says, “it was kind of therapeutic for me. Of course, the emotions I was going through was painful, but to actually say in the music was therapy for me. I’m just glad that people received it the way they did cos it just showed me that I wasn’t alone”.
Part of that fallout was accepting that his drive and focus were different to that of his friends; not all of them made the vetting process. Two things that keep Blxst focused are his plant-based diet and being a father to his 3-year old son. “I’ve been on that for seven years now. Really I got into it through finding out my family’s health history and just making that commitment to take that route. I just got my workout plan too so I’m trying to stay consistent”. When quizzed on his favourite plant-based food and drink, he keeps it simple. “I love carrot juice, I’m real simple… Living in LA, it’s tough cos there’s food everywhere. I get the plant-based tacos from this joint called Sugar Tacos”. On ‘Pressure’, he gives us a little insight into the balancing act that is parenthood, “ain’t no need to mention me recording with my son on lap, for all the times I couldn’t afford it, I gotta order that”. That’s not to say his time as a dad hasn’t come without its caveats. “My favourite thing is just seeing certain traits in him growing up. I’ll see him do a little something and be like ‘that came from me’ haha!”
To complement his debut project, Blxst put out a five-part mini-series based on the songs that add the most flavour to his story. These songs are ‘Overrated’, ‘No Love Lost, ‘Be Alone’, ‘Gang Slide’ and ‘Pressure’ – a combination that leans towards a film score with its transitions and pacing. Almost like that sequence was deliberately picked for the visual experience…“We had the storyline, really before we had the songs. So we approached it like what songs would fit what scene? And it pretty much came in order”. We touch on ‘Gang Slide’, a self-produced cut (as with most of the songs on ‘No Love Lost’) where he uses a playful entendre to contemplate sliding with the gang; or on his lover. These witty nuances in his wordplay is nothing new to him as he has had an affinity with words a long time. “I’m just a fan of words! I fell in love with words at a young age and you know, just listening to the greats like the Jay Z’s, the Andre’s , the double entendres. I try to take that and apply it in my music as well. Saying one thing but meaning another thing is just a dope form of art to me”.
In Blxst, you have a young artist who is smooth enough to make records for the radio and the ladies (‘Got It All’), but introspective enough to cut through the surface level (‘Pressure’). This ability paired with smooth vocals and a penchant for production, mixing and mastering, it is not hard to understand why he has a growing list of supporters. One of those supporters is LA underground legend Dom Kennedy, who hopped on ‘Got It All’, one of his most popular songs yet. “That was legendary for me because I feel if there was a logo for LA, it would be Dom Kennedy. For me, linking up with Dom K was like getting a stamp of approval as far as LA goes. Just for me to even be on his radar was dope”. For any fan of the West Coast or even the blogging era of rap that took place a decade ago, you’ll know about Dom K’s legendary run as an independent artist and label owner. On how he knew what song to have Dom on, Blxst reflects “well he [Dom Kennedy] got a certain pocket. And I’m from LA too so I understand the kind of vibe he tryna jump on. So it was a perfect match”. Even outside of his city, Blxst gets his flowers and he recalls when another man of the moment was around his way showing love. “That was a surreal moment [to meet J. Cole] and have him tell me he’s a fan of my music. He’s real humble, real regular”.
That was legendary for me because I feel if there was a logo for LA, it would be Dom Kennedy.
‘Hurt’ from its title alone sounds like he was reeling from new revelations unravelling right in front of his own eyes. Friendships changing as he tries to stay solid and motivated. I ask how he remembers feeling when laying his vocals for that song. “As far as ‘Hurt’ goes, it was nothing but an emotion that I was feeling. Every line that I said on that song was 100% true. The mindset I was in was just a dark space, I didn’t really know where I was going. I didn’t know, in terms of the trajectory of my career, so I put it all in the music”. With comparisons to fellow hybrids from LA such as the late, great Nate Dogg and Ty Dolla Sign, you can gauge where his preference between singing and rapping lies. “Honestly I’m more comfortable just vibing out. When I say that, I mean melodies you know, just singing more. Rapping is more so for the love of the art. Sometimes my mood can have me just writing raps, other times I’m just in my singing mood”.
“I feel like it’s in my DNA to stand on integrity and to be intentional behind my art because that’s what my family represents.”
Speaking of integrity and intention, the conversation goes back to another LA native that he’s worked with in Bino Rideaux. A student of the late, great Nipsey Hussle, he and Blxst linked up back in 2019 for the impressive ‘Sixtape’ – a six-track EP that showcases the best of their combined abilities. They linked again for Blxst’s deluxe on the ‘Wrong or Right’ remix and it sounds even better than the original. With their chemistry clear to see, we explore their connection further. “Bino, that’s my dawg! In the studio, his workflow is just like mine as far as going straight in and letting the emotion spill out. It’s fun at the end of the day, it doesn’t feel like work because we bounce off of each other well”. He pauses at the end of his sentence, as if we said something suspect in New York, a true sign that humour isn’t regional.
For me, an artist’s perception of the work is key, the ability to detach from one’s work and understand how it resonates with the people demonstrates self-awareness. With a story that is characterised by key themes of betrayal, growth and love, especially with a narrative style that is rooted in being visceral, numbers alone would fail to depict how the music resonates with the people. There are more than a few songs on the project that could make a top 3, but in Blxst’s own words, he tells me the three songs that punctuate ‘No Love Lost’. “Firstly I would say ’Forever Humble’ because that one speaks on my background and where I took it. ‘Wrong or Right’ just because I feel like that’s a song anyone can relate to in a relationship. For the third song… I would say ‘Hurt’ just so you can feel my pain”. His visceral approach can even be seen in the arrangement of the project, going with the songs that shape his story, not considering the runtime. “Initally it was an EP so I just looked at it as getting the ball rolling. The way people responded to it, it was like I had to give more songs. But at the same time, I still wanted to save some of me for my album. The hardest part was balancing not giving too much but still letting people know who I am”.
Before he has to go, we discuss what’s next for him in his musical journey. “Right now I’m working on [Sixtape] Part Two with Bino. And I got a crazy announcement coming this year. I can’t say too much but hopefully I’ll put out my debut album soon enough”. Not long after the interview, Blxst proceeds to drop a two piece on us titled ‘Just For Clarity’, featuring fellow Left Coaster Drakeo the Ruler and independent powerhouse Russ on ‘Don’t Forget’ and ‘Fck Boys’ respectively. His consistency will keep him in this game for a while to come, but for me, Blxst is at his best when he is finding meaning in the blurred lines, whether it’s his family, his homies, or even himself doing the blurring.
‘No Love Lost’ and ‘Just For Clarity’ are both out now at all good streaming services.