Q: Alright first thing's first how'd you get the name XI da' MC??
A: Good question the number 11 has been my name pretty much since I was born, it's a family name that stuck with me throughout my life, everybody from my mom to my high school teacher's called me 11 so naturally when I began to rap I never thought of calling myself or being known as anything else, in fact all of my first YouTube videos and my first mixtape just say Eleven. It wasn't until about 4 years ago after I joined Crown Republik that I changed the spelling of the number to the Roman numeral and added “da’ MC" to make it more of a stage name that I could really put a brand on!!!
Q: When did you know you wanted to be an performer?
A: You know what as far as I can think back I was always in front of the t.v. dancing to James Brown and Michael Jackson and whoever in fact when my Grandfather was alive he would always wake me up out my sleep in the middle of the night to entertain him and his drunk friends and he'd be like "do the James Brown" and I'd do my little slides and all that and then he be like "now do the split" and I'd drop on a dime and hit the split and everybody would just lose their fucking minds and cheer, clap and all that and for a few minutes at 4 or 5 years old I would feel like this big star you know then he'd be like "alright now take yo ass to bed”. So I mean ever since I was a kid I saw myself on a stage performing some kind of music in front of a crowd. The older I got and the more I fell in love with Hip Hop the easier it was to make up my mind that's what I was going to do. So I remember vividly in high school, I'd be the cat in the morning or at lunch that would take a quarter out my pocket and start beating on the lunch room table. Or just start beat boxing and get the cypher popping off. I use to love watching somebody from each different race come over and spit some bars, that's when I realized the power of this shit and I was stuck whether I wanted to be or not it was like fate you know!
Q: So what does XI da' MC bring to the table?
A: Authenticity!!! I am a product and student of music so I don't create my music based on what I think people want to hear, I'm not concerned with following any trends or tryna ride the wave of what everybody says is "hot". I create music based on what's in my heart, based on what I go through on a day to day basis. When I put my life experiences to a dope track, I am as honest as I can be and I can be fly and articulate with my wordplay. I'm able to reach people who can relate to my experiences and love dope music, it becomes more personal than just listening to a CD in my opinion.
Q: Sounds as if you take you craft pretty serious, tell me what's your thought process when you're writing your material?
A: Another good question!!! You know what, I used to be able to just write for no reason. I remember at one point I had notebooks full of raps from front to back top to bottom but now I have to be talking about something. I cant just sit and write just for the sake of writing I have to have a subject that I can dive into. So now when a beat catches my ear I close my eyes and I let the music talk to me and the beat tells me what to say if that makes any sense. Im hungry, the physical feeling of being hungry somehow makes me dig deeper. Most of my best work Ive come up with my stomach was literally growling, there's a method to the madness!!
Q: Whoa...intriguing to say the least, what do you enjoy most about being an artist?
A: Being able to create! One of the many powers of music is that it has the ability to change emotions and also the ability to intensify emotions a song can take you out of a certain mood and it can put you in a certain mood! So I really get satisfaction from people saying "bro that song brought tears to my eyes" or actually watching someone close their eyes and get lost in one of my song's is a pretty powerful experience! As an artist I have particular reasons why I write certain songs and when it comes across to a listener and they break down to me exactly what I was thinking when I wrote it the feeling is comparable to how people feel when they win a Grammy or a Oscar or some shit! Also the fact that I can inspire another artist, when another artist hears you at your best it gives them fuel to do their best or a regular fan with a passion to create art can love my music enough to get to know my story and find out that I walked away from this shit for a long time until realized it was my calling and be inspired by the fact that it's never too late to do anything! That's a real super power!
Q: If you could describe your style in one word what would it be?
A: Real!!! I don't have anything to distract you from my artistry. I'm not a gangster I'm not a drug dealer I'm not a pimp I'm not a killer I'm not shooting guns I haven't spent no time in the penitentiary I'm just a man that loves to make music and the music I make is based off my reality as a man. What you see is what you get so when it comes to me being a artist my art has to be conducive to how I live so I don't have to play a role of this big time player and got a stable of hoes but when I go home I gotta turn that role off and play Husband and Daddy nah when I go in on a song or a project or whatever I'm doing musically I'm going in 100% me and I make my best attempt to entertain and uplift and enlighten cuz anybody who really knows me they know that's naturally part of my character so there's no gimmick about me all you have to judge me off of is the quality my music not because I'm a crip not because I'm claiming that I killed 50 people either you like the way I get down or not that's as real as it gets!
Q: What is B.L.A.K Fist Society
A: On my first project that I did with Beneficial at the beginning of the song Be Better I said "black fist in the air on this one" and originally I was thinking about the Olympics when the brothers raised up they fist and got they medals took cuz I was always intrigued by that so anyway my cousin L approached me about some business ideas and what not he asked me if we built a company what would I name it and I said black fist then we had the idea of bringing Beneficial along so he took the idea of black fist and switched it around to BLAK and came up with the acronym B.uild L.ive A.cquire K.nowledge and so I thought of the fist as being a representation of togetherness, the more we ran with it we added the Society on to it before you knew it we were calling ourselves B.L.A.K Fist Society and put the Rhythm and Victory project together and it was a wrap it sort of became apart of my rap style to incorporate substance and truth in my music and also my way of life Build Live Acquire Knowledge Freedom Is Seeking Truth. Once I established myself as a solo artist it was almost second nature to rep BFS and I don't plan on stopping any time soon!
Q: That's what's up. What do you think is missing the most from Hip Hop?
A: I think Hip Hop is lacking balance the most right now. When I was coming up I had NWA, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest and EPMD right off the top of the head that's four different groups with four totally different styles I could go on and on but the point is nobody was even thinking about trying out the next man style cuz it was "hot" everybody was dope for different reasons, people fucked with Biz Markee for his wit and this comedic shit that he was doing and he blew up off that Big Daddy Kane wasn't on no shit like oh Biz blowing up making songs about picking boogers let me do some shit like that Kane came in with his own shit and stood out on his own and blew up. Now days it seem like if you ain't doing what's "hot" you ain't really getting no shine and what's "hot" now is blood this crip that bad bitch this I shoot that. When we have a wealth of other shit to talk about, rap love songs don't even exist no more songs simply about how dope you are as a MC has somehow become whack, Hip Hop is a big gumbo pot of creativity and every ingredient plays apart in the taste and now they telling us Hip Hop is just broth and carrots now everybody running around the house eating carrot water and hella niggaz is knocking on the door with big ass pots of gumbo, put they own new twist on it and all that and they gotta stand outside while niggaz opening the door saying uuugghh niggaz don't eat gumbo no more its all about that carrot water. The shit is funny to me!
Q: Now earlier you mentioned your affiliation with Crown Republik
A: Yes indeed!!!
Q: How did you come about connecting with Ran Blacc and the whole Crown team?
A: Long story short, I met Blacc around 2002 when I first moved to Las Vegas. We was lightweight making music but we didn't have everything figured out yet plus he was doing his non profit thing back then and I was on some other shit just kinda settling down and having kids and all that so I fell all the way back off the music shit. So fast forward to 2014 I had got back into the music by then dropped the So Official and the BLAK Fist projects with Beneficial and I was about to drop my first solo mixtape when I ran back into Blacc he had moved to San Diego and established Crown Republik as something legit and was already getting the wheels rolling with it, we linked up in San Diego, he brought the idea to me of coming in and it's like it only made sense to me to take what I was trying to do as a solo artist and join forces with the Crown plus off top he was big bro anyways so we been rocking ever since!
Q: It says here you are not only an artist but musical director as well...can you elaborate on your position as musical director?
Well with Crown Republik being Blacc's brain child once I officially became a member big bro must've noticed a different kind of passion for music in me that I didn't see in myself because when he gave me the position I wasn't too sure what it meant I just remember feeling like I got a promotion on my job. So what it means is that every project, mixtape, EP, LP, or single that comes from Crown Republik Ent and the newly formed label Crown Music has to go through my ears. Me and big bro (Ran Blacc) sit down and go through every song and come up with the order of the tracks, skits, intro's and outro's, artwork covers etc.
Dope. So what can we expect next from XI da' MC?
Awww man just work work work me and big bro just dropped a Mixtape called "The Prelude" which is basically a collection of song's we've already recorded and released as a preview to the EP that we've been working on titled "The Brotherhood Project" really excited about that, I've been doing a lot of work out in my home town Fresno CA on the "Cold World Survivors" project with my brother's Honest Jaye and Overcome that will be available soon, also been doing work on my next solo project "Out Of My Mind" that will be dropping in 2018, plus with fellow Crown artist like RuBee Redd, Los Peezy, Trapp Starr and Ran Blacc all releasing projects in 2018 my plate as musical director is pretty full as well so I'm just stay busy and working overtime to make sure I give you the best quality music I possibly can!!!