Countless up-and-coming artists dream of landing a guest verse from a prominent artist in hopes that one high-profile feature will propel them into the mainstream. However, as the Hip-Hop community has witnessed over the last handful of years, co-signs from major-label artists can only do so much for a burgeoning career. Perhaps that's why rising Atlanta rapper Hunxho is working as if he didn't kick off 2022 with an invaluable look from his fellow hometown artist 21 Savage on "Let's Get It (Remix)." Rather than waiting for people to catch onto their hard-hitting collab, Hunxho has decided to keep pushing forward, and today he returns with his second project of the year.
Just three months after releasing Street Poetry — which featured guest appearances from the aforementioned Savage Mode II artist, NoCap, and 2ndTrenchBaby — Hunxho has already reloaded the clip and dropped off Xhosen, a personal nine-track project that is dually named after his son and inspired by the bubbling 300 Entertainment artist's outlook on life.
With the release of Xhosen today, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with the 22-year-old artist. Despite his near 100k followers on Instagram and nearly two million monthly listeners on Spotify, Hunxho is still a newcomer in the music industry, and beneath his subdued demeanor is a very passionate and intriguing individual.
A self-proclaimed street poet, Hunxho is also an old soul, a community mentor, and a father of one, and in an exclusive interview with HNHH, Hunxho discussed everything from his upbringing in Atlanta and the recent passing of Lil Keed to the symbolism in his "Fight" music video and the importance of being a present father.
Learn more about Hunxho, and why he feels like he's chosen, in our Q&A below.
Interview edited lightly for clarity.
HNHH: Tell me about yourself to start. Where are you from?
Hunxho: I’m from Atlanta, the Eastside of Atlanta. I’m from Glenwood to be exact, but Second Avenue my hood. That’s where I started to find myself at. But as a kid, I came up on Glenwood.
How has growing up in Atlanta shaped you as a person and as an artist?
It ain’t even really me growing up in Atlanta, it's just me finding my own way. I had to figure out a lot by myself. I had a mom in the house, but I really didn’t have no pops in the house, so a lot of stuff I had to teach myself. Like, there ain’t too much a mama can teach you.
So was there anyone in the city that might have influenced you artistically or had music that really connected with you?
Nah, not for real, but I ain’t gon’ hate, I listen to everybody. Everybody who makes good music, ya know, Imma listen to them from time to time. But ain’t nobody influenced me.
I wanted to ask about the significance of the way your name is spelled. We got the “X” instead of the “C” so I was wondering if that was a style thing or if there’s a story behind that.
I came up with it when I was young. When I was young, I was probably like… I’m 22 now, I came up with it when I was like in 6th grade. So you asked about the “X” in my name right? It’s a long story, man. It was around the time when folks was gangbanging hard, you know what I’m saying. The regular Huncho might be spelled “huncho,” but around that time I was spelling everything with a “x,” but then I just stuck with it.
Since you got out of jail a couple of years ago, what have you been doing to take your career to the next level?
Everything. I be everywhere I got to be — like, everywhere I need to be. Anything that will help me elevate, I be doing it. From the ‘lil shows to the big shows to… I’m not gonna lie, traveling over with my fans. My music, I be making more music. Being more locked in just to elevate my craft like, it’s a lot.
When did you get with 300 and what led to your signing with them?
It was either last year October or November, I can’t really remember. But really, all the labels was reaching out to me, but I really liked 300. 300 was the most genuine. I was talking to all the labels and had them in my head like who I wanna go with. They really the only ones who didn’t sound like robots, you feel me? Everybody else who I was talking to sounded like robots, all were saying the same sh*t.
Earlier this year you dropped Street Poetry with the big 21 Savage feature, so tell me how the top of 2022 has been treating you.
"But really, all the labels was reaching out to me, but I really liked 300. 300 was the most genuine. I was talking to all the labels and had them in my head like who I wanna go with."
I mean, it's been treating me good but I always feel like I'm still grinding. I ain’t ever tryna get comfortable where I’m at because I made it. I'm still growing, still grinding.
When did you start working on this new project? Was it right after Street Poetry dropped?
I couldn’t even tell you. I can’t even really remember when it started because I make so much music. I don’t even really remember exactly when I made these songs. But mostly everything is new, everything is recent.
I was told the project was named after your son. So tell me more about Xhosen and what being a father means to you.
I named the tape Xhosen probably because I feel like I’m chosen, you feel me? A lot of stuff be happening in my life that will tell me that I’m chosen. That’s one of the reasons I named my son Xhosen. I spell it the same way the tape spelled — his name spelled like that on his birth certificate. Like it came up like my name, Hunxho, so I just made his name Xhosen. Sometimes they call me “Xho” and they call him “Lil Xho.” Both are actually spelled the same way.
It means a lot to me, a whole lot. I wish I had my dad in my life growing up. I always told myself I couldn’t be like what my daddy was to me to my kid. I always gotta be there. When we were growing up, my momma’s side always stressed the importance of family. Family meant a lot, so we were real close. All the men on my momma side, they all in their kids' lives — ain’t none of that going on. They all in their kids' lives, their nephews, and nieces. My uncle was more like a father figure to me when I was growing up 'cause my daddy wasn’t.
"I named the tape Xhosen probably because I feel like I’m chosen, you feel me? A lot of stuff be happening in my life that will tell me that I’m chosen. That’s one of the reasons I named my son Xhosen. I spell it the same way the tape spelled — his name spelled like that on his birth certificate."
How has rap been different since becoming a dad, like the hours you spent in the studio have probably decreased or something. But how has that transition been?
I mean they ain’t decrease. I spend time with him, but not as much time as I should. I’m working so I can start making my own schedule. I’m tryna to get to where I gotta be to make my own schedule, you feel me? So I can see him every single day of the week.
What can listeners expect the vibe of this project to be?
It’s some pain sh*t. It's some turnt sh*t, slow sh*t, some club sh*t, you got all kinda sh*t. So I mixed up, you’re gonna feel it for sure.
Who all is featured on Xhosen?
Not no rappers. You can expect WanMor. They a singing group, and they on my first tape. I had this sing for a minute. I really wasn’t gonna put no features on the tape at all, but I was around one day and I heard something that should be on the song. I had just recently seen them singing on Instagram, so I had called the label and was like, 'I got to get WanMor on the intro to my tape. It would be a perfect fit.' I told them what and how to do it, but they did it in their own way. They're on the first song on the tape.
You dropped the video to "Fight" earlier this month, and it really intrigued me. There was a lot of Black Panther and boxing imagery in there, so can you explain some of that for the viewers who may not know what the vision was?
I mean the vision is really simple — fight. I really just wanted to give them some hard visuals. I don’t like regular videos. I'm not tryna say that I'm like past that, but I am tryna take it to the next level. I came up with the idea for "Fight," and I hit up Marko Steez because I know he could bring it to life.
It’s crazy that you’re 22 and thinking about putting Black Panther imagery in your visuals.
I’m young, but I got an old soul. I don’t even ride to modern-day music. I listen to old-school music. I like listening to real music, this sh*t done changed so much. This sh*t ain’t nothing like it used to be. I listen to old music, so I could still get that feel. I listen to real music.
You dropped "1,2,3" today and you started rapping like (I keep that…) like you kind of sound like Lil Keed, you kind of give us some Lil Keed vibes. I was wondering if that was intentional. I know that y’all were label mates. I was wondering if that was homage?
Nah, I just be rapping.
Got you. Just been playing with your voice more?
I definitely be trying to work my voice.
What other things have you been doing in the studio to take your music to the next level?
Everything. When I hear a beat, the beat gonna tell me exactly what to do. As soon as I hear the beat. I’m tryin something different on every song but my voice, my flow, what I’m saying, how I’m putting it together. All that matters.
So you freestyle?
Yeah, but I ain’t gonna really say freestyling. I don’t write, I punch in. It ain’t no straight freestyle that just go boom-boom on some Meek Mill sh*t.
Since you are from Atlanta, I'm sure that you've felt it in the air. Our Hip-Hop scene is down bad right now with everything that's been happening. Since Lil Keed was on 300 with you, I was wondering if y’all had a relationship prior to his passing?
Yeah, we had recently just got that relationship. We already knew about each other, like we was already familiar with each other because Yak Gotti's like my big brother. But me and Keed had linked up on our own sh*t. We had been locked in ever since, you feel me? We had officially gotten in the studio together in LA for a writing camp or something like that. We had locked in and made a song. When I had left LA and went back to Atlanta, he was calling me and telling me, “I gotta get you on my tape.” But he ain’t ever stopped calling me after that. Like, we was always talking after that.
How did the news of his passing hit you?
"Me and Keed had linked up on our own sh*t. We had been locked in ever since, you feel me? We had officially gotten in the studio together in LA for a writing camp or something like that. We had locked in and made a song. When I had left LA and went back to Atlanta, he was calling me and telling me, “I gotta get you on my tape.” But he ain’t ever stopped calling me after that. Like, we was always talking after that."
I mean, that sh*t was f*cked up. But that’s anybody though. But now, it was extra messed up. At first, when we got in the studio together, he wasn't even just in the studio by himself, he had his daughter with him. I was just thinking about that like, 'Damn.'
The first time I linked up with him, he had his daughter with him, and then the second time I linked up with him, I had my son with me.
In a recent Instagram post, you said you had to change your ways because you couldn’t let your son not have a father. I also saw on the Dirty Glove bastard interview that you were talking about leaving the streets to transition to music as a career. In what ways has your life changed since you chose the art over your past?
My life changed a lot, it is definitely really different to me. It ain’t that hard adjusting, but it’s different though. Everything used to be "Go, Go, Go!" in a different kind of way, but now it’s "Go, Go, Go!" on the music. It’s like I’m working towards something. Back then when I was in the streets, I was just working for that night. Make some money that night or that second, but now I’m working for the future to be the biggest I can be, to go as far as I can go.
I also wanted to ask you, I know you didn’t mean to have this mentorship Zoom background up here, but it’s up. It caught my interest, so can you tell me about that?
So it’s called Next Level Boys Academy. It’s a mentoring program. I got in the program because I got this case in like 2019, so boom. When I got out of jail, I ended up getting a lawyer, like before I signed I had my lawyer. After a minute of working with him, he told me, “You should really get in this program, this Next Level Boys Academy.” So he holla’d at a dude and he told me to give him a call. So I gave him a call and he told me to come up to his office. I came up to his office, we chatted it up, and he asked me questions. He ain't just accepting everyone in the program. He accepts who he really thinks needs to be in the program. But also my judge liked this program, so my lawyer was telling me to get in. But after I got in, I started to like it for myself. No old men, no one telling you what to do — you talking about some real sh*t, what’s really going on. But when I caught my case, they were tryna offer me 7 years, they were tryna offer me 7 to 20 years in jail. They ended up letting me do it in the program because this program really save people. I ain’t gonna lie, it's like 30-40 more people like me that the judge told them they need to go to the classes and stuff instead of going to jail. This is a trusted program.
When I get to where I'm going, I'mma invest all the way in it. We need to get more people involved — it's really life-changing.
That's really cool. Well, you got Xhosen coming up. I assume that since this is your second project of the year, you won't be letting up anytime soon, so what else can listeners expect for the rest of 2022?
I got another tape after this tape and another tape after that tape. I got a lot of sh*t. Videos and all. I’m not bullsh*tting, I’m working.
Now that you've learned who Hunxho is, be sure to check out the rising Atlanta rapper's latest project here.