Music

Rising Atlanta Rapper Hunxho Explains The Relentless Work Ethic Behind His New Project, ‘Xhosen’

Two years ago, Atlanta rapper Hunxho (pronounced “huncho”) didn’t even have one full-length project to his name. Then, on the last day of July, he dropped his official debut project, Street Poet, following up with its sequel, Street Poet 2, just one year later. Since then, his pace has only increased. Instead of waiting another year to drop a new mixtape, he offered Street Poetry in March of this year. Then, perhaps unable to let another nine months go by, he followed up again with his latest mixtape Xhosen in the middle of June — this time, with the backing of 300 Entertainment, home of such street-certified stars as Megan Thee Stallion, Tee Grizzley, and Young Thug.

Named for his son, Xhosen is a polished project in the vein of fellow red clay-rooted rappers Future, Lil Baby, and Migos. Led by the driving, motivational single “Fight,” the nine-track project sees Hunxho boasting that he’s “Made It This Far” while predicting “Where I’m Going.” Meanwhile, on songs like “Heartless,” he details his early struggles and the sense of dogged persistence they’ve left him — the same hustler mentality that compels him to do whatever it takes to make good on the promises of “It’s Gone Be Alright.”

In a Zoom interview, Hunxho explains his relentless work ethic and hands-on approach to his prolific creative process, and acknowledges the adjustments he’s made over the past year as he learns the rap business and sees his newfound notoriety pay off.

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Street Poetry came out in March, and Xhosen is out just three months later. Why did you want to do such a fast turnaround?

Because I love dropping music. I just want to drop, drop, drop. I feel like I got to put the music out and whatever they catch on to, they just going to catch on to. It ain’t on me, the way to choose what songs are going to be a hit. I’m here to make the music and be myself and drop the music and let the people choose what they want to choose. If I could, I would drop another tape this week. I can, but I’ll probably give it some time.

That actually kind of reminds me of Gucci Mane. Do you remember when he was dropping back to back to back? Or Lil Wayne when was dropping back to back to back. It’s a winning strategy, it can work for you.

Yo, for sure. I ain’t going to lie, I got so much music, I can not make music for three years and have enough music to drop, for real.

With such a short gap between the releases, how do you try to push yourself or evolve your sound between the albums?

I just stay locked in. Then I be putting some of the most recent sh*t on the tape, but while I’m putting the tape together, I’m still making the music. So, I might start something new and put something else on there.

So for you, it’s more important to continue making music, because every day you’re going to have something new. Right?

Yeah. It’s important for me to keep making music. But I just recently was trying to take a break from making music to work on everything else — like my performance and whatever else that got to do with music, instead of making it.

I love hearing that. I think that a lot of artists get so focused on doing the thing that they don’t think about how we’re going to present it to people. What kind of things have you done to get performance ready?

I really ain’t even started yet but I’m about to start. I’m going to get somebody who do stuff like that, who works with people on their performance. I got big shows coming up and I really ain’t did no big shows. I’ve mainly been doing club shows, so it’s different from a club and a big stage.

I know you can get a little burnt out or maybe run out of things to say when you produce so much music. How do you stay inspired?

I ain’t going to lie, I’m self-motivated. My motivation really come out of myself, sh*t I’ve been through, and where I came from. And I know where I want to be. I don’t never get comfortable. I’m a forever be hungry. I never want to make myself feel comfortable. I really want to be bigger and better.

So, let’s talk about Xhosen. I heard that it was inspired by your son?

Yeah, most definite.

Is this named after him?

Yeah, Xhosen. It’s just like that on his birth certificate.

That’s pretty tight. The substitute teachers are going to freak out though.

They’re going to mix his name all up.

What would you say is the main idea of Xhosen, the album? What do you want people to take away from it when they hear it?

I mean it’s not really no main idea. It’s just… I’m telling them my pain, my stories, my struggles. And then I want them to put it in and they can tell me what they get out of it.

If someone were to only listen to one song from Xhosen, which one would it be and why?

Probably “Heartless,” the first one on there. The energy is hard and it’s different. But I stay listening to old music. I like bringing the old to the new.

One of the things that struck me when I was doing the research for this, the video for “Fight” is heavily influenced by the Black Panthers. What’s your experience with that movement and what makes it relevant to what you’re doing musically on that song and today?

I mean, it wasn’t really that. It was really just me trying to push the concept of “Fight” by showing different fights.

Yeah. So like the fight for civil rights or the fight for liberation?

Yeah, yeah.

You know, I think that still holds up. What was the process of filming that video like?

I had come up with the idea and I had sat down with Marco Speed and explained it to him. And I just tell him, “I need you to bring it to life.” A video shoot came up and he told me to be there. It started at like eight o’clock. I was out there all day and I didn’t leave until five in the morning because we were shooting a lot.

Had you ever done a video on that level of production before?

Not where I was already set up. I never did a video like that. [Usually] I set it up myself. I did everything.

What’s the difference between having it done for you versus doing it for yourself?

I don’t really know. I be wanting to be editor. If I could’ve stayed editor too, I would have did it.

So you’re more of a hands-on type of artist?

Yeah, most definitely.

That’s good to hear. That probably explains why you came up in such a relatively short amount of time. What is the biggest difference between your life five years ago and your life now?

Five years ago? I ain’t going to lie. I wasn’t even really mainly focused on music five years ago. I was living in the street just focused on making me some money. I wasn’t really even rapping or doing… When I found out I could rap, I would put it out in a rap.

For someone who just started rapping professionally, you’re a lot more polished than I see with a lot of newer artists. How did you get so good so fast?

I just be dedicated. I really put my all into it. I be locked in. Any chance I was going to be in the studio, I would be in the studio. Whatever I got to do, shooting videos and everything. Every day try to do something that’s got something to do with me perfecting my craft.

Yeah. So, in your perfect world, if everything pans out 100% correctly, how would you like to have changed in the next five years? So if we talk again in 2027, and you’ve been rapping for 10 years, what do you want to see different?

I don’t know where I’m going to be. I just want everybody to be straight. That’s all I know. I just want everybody to be good.

Hunxho is a Warner Music artists Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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