Fan favorite Xanman bars are endless: “AR make him jump like he Spiderman,” “You feel me knockin’ let me in Uncle Elroy,” and “He ain’t good on the block he need a season pass” provide merely a taste of the Landover, Maryland rapper’s arsenal of clever threats.
He’s only 18, but Xanman isn’t new to this. He started rapping around the time he began elementary school and learned Pro Tools alongside cursive. While he’s proud of his self-sufficiency—he still produces and records nearly all of his songs himself—he’s also worked with other DMV artists, like Goonew and his cousin YungManny.
The DMV flow hasn’t been the easiest to popularize, since near whispers and jerky, off-beat raps aren’t what the commercial palette is accustomed to. But Xanman’s quotables make it easy to follow along, and they might be his secret weapon in crossing over to the mainstream.
While building a reputation in the region is where his rise originated, rap Twitter took his ascension to new heights. Lil Yachty, Rico Nasty, and No Jumper have all publicly stanned Xanman, and when the rapper went to jail for six months in November of 2018, the #FreeXan movement exploded, with thousands of accounts running up his play counts and championing the music in his absence.
Fresh out of jail, Xanman told us about his background, a new song series about the color of his clothes, and a collaboration with Yachty. Read the interview below and get familiar with more of our favorite new artists.
What was it like growing up in Maryland?
I seen everything the typical kid did. A lot of times my little brothers and sisters growing up didn’t have a lot, so I’m happy they can get that stuff now. It’s been a lot of times we didn’t really have Christmases and everything like that.
Where specifically are you from?
Brightseat Road, Landover, Maryland.
We call it Xanstyles for a reason, because I make them myself. I do everything myself except shoot my own videos.
I heard you started rapping at 5 years old and had a studio by the time you were 11—who influenced you to start?
What made me get into music for real was just myself being young and playing drums, and church and stuff like that. It’s a lot of legends from here like Chuck Brown—rest in peace—and my uncle played for him so that’s how I learned out about the drums. He had a studio. The first thing I had to learn was Pro Tools and that’s one of the hardest programs ‘cause you have to mix everything manually. Back then there weren’t any mixing machines.
So you learned Pro Tools when you were 11?
Yeah. Every song that’s on YouTube, every song I ever recorded, I recorded myself in my own studio.
You’ve gotten shoutouts from lots of artists like Yachty, Rico Nasty. Are a lot of people reaching out to you? Any collaborations in the works?
Yeah, I released a song called "PINK" and I’m literally making a series on what color I have on that day, so if I have on black I’m gonna make a song called "Black." Me and Yachty [made] a song called "Yellow" ‘cause that happens to be the color we had on that day.
Where do you get your beats?
I make my beats. Most of my trap songs, I make my beats. All of the Xanstyles. We call it Xanstyles for a reason, because I make them myself. I do everything myself except shoot my own videos.
Would you ever work with other producers?
Heck yeah, I still do. Like Brodinski… and it’s people who I got their beats from off YouTube that I had to buy, like "Gucci Down." This isn’t an overnight thing for me at all, I’ve been working for the longest. Definitely not an overnight thing.
Y’all know Xanman, y’all know me from rap, not from outside of the rap. If I wasn’t who I was I wouldn’t be talking to you right now.
What’s been the most rewarding part of the process so far?
Well I couldn’t imagine it because I didn’t believe anyone when people was saying I got my first million views on "Point." People that I’ve worked with has been rewarding to me. I got songs with Rico Nasty, Lil Yachty, and working with people like that has helped me out. Even No Jumper, he still holds me down the long way with everything.
Do you have a favorite bar of yours that stands out?
Nah, I kind of have a favorite ad-lib though, like when I say "yeah." And I just started saying "weirdo." That’s what I started saying when I was locked up. Everything I do don’t really amaze me unless I do a singing song. I never expected "Gucci Down" to be where it’s at right now. I thought it would be "Kanye" or one of the songs I have with Goonew.
Another thing for people to know: I don’t use Auto-Tune. I never use Auto-Tune. In my ad-libs I use it, but in all of my singing songs, on the main track it’s all my natural voice. I sing my songs live sometimes, too.
How long were you in jail?
Since November 8th, so like six months.
Do you think it changed your perspective on music on all?
I mean, I got a better outlook on a lot of stuff because I got to see a lot in jail.
In what way?
You can’t trust people. That’s the outlook. When you in jail, depending on what jail you in, you gotta eat watching your back. Someone might come behind you and start stabbing you. That was my problem, I’m hotheaded, I’m very quick to snap for real. In jail you gotta be even more like that because you can’t let nobody play with you. People actually do build friendships in jail because you see the person 24/7 every single day of your life for how long you’re in there. So people do build brotherhood and stuff like that. Not me personally. I got some people who are bro to me but at the same time, where were you before this? Y’all know Xanman, y’all know me from rap, not from outside of the rap. If I wasn’t who I was I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. Damn, as we speak someone from jail calling me right now.
I wanna make history with my stuff. I wanna be with the JAY-Zs, with the Lil Waynes. Someone that goes down in history, that’s still relevant no matter what they do.
Were you aware of the #FreeXan movement going crazy while you were gone?
That’s actually when I blew up. I was still doing well for myself when I was out there, I was still able to get what, 200 thousand views and 15,000 downloads on a mixtape? But yeah, not what it is now.
Lately, there’s been some backlash against glorifying drugs. We’ve seen a few artists quit drugs, and Lil Xan even said he’s going to change his name. Where do you stand on that?
I talk about things that I seen, done, and experienced. Not to say too much, but Xanman came along because that was actually what I was known for—not taking drugs because I don’t really take drugs, I don’t—but I was definitely surrounded by it all of my life.
What are you working on now?
I stop all of my series at five. So, I did Like Tony 5, that’s when I stopped it. I was gonna stop it at four, because four is one of my favorite numbers besides seven. The reason it’s called Like Tony is because Tony is me comparing myself to Scarface but in terms of music, you feel me? Scarface did it by himself, he did it on his own. He didn’t need help, he did what he had to do to get to the top. I’m comparing myself to him in terms of music, like yeah, I’m by myself—I did this on my own.
What are your goals right now?
To go to the top. I don’t wanna be some of these... Silento, know what I mean? I wanna make history with my stuff. I wanna be with the JAY-Zs, with the Lil Waynes. Someone that goes down in history, that’s still relevant no matter what they do. Someone that can make big business moves. It’s deeper than rap. If I ain’t have one fan I’d still be rapping like I had a million fans.