In 2017, Matt Ox was introduced to the world via “Overwhelming”—an immediate viral hit, headed by a fidget-spinning 12-year-old belting out lyrics like “posted in the trenches, yeah that’s where I’m flexing” with the utmost confidence. The song was produced by a then-underground Philly crew by the name of Working On Dying, whose involvement in the local rap scene helped position Matt Ox and “Overwhelming” as more than a viral curiosity. He was memeable, but also showcasing raw talent and intriguing left-of-center energy, which fueled the string of singles released thereafter (one of which was “Messages,” which according to Matt Ox, is rumored to have received a $150,000 bid from Drake’s camp prior to release.)

These singles led into OX, Matt Ox’s debut album in 2018, 11 tracks long and complete with features from Key!, Valee, and Chief Keef. Welcomed to generally positive reviews, OX was the full-length project that cemented Matt Ox’s place in the wake of a viral moment. Fans and fellow artists alike flocked to the Philly-bred talent, and a year later, Ox’s voice belted out the chorus on XXXTentacion’s “$$$,” which to date, has brought home over 130 million Spotify streams, over nine times that of “Overwhelming.”

At this point, Matt Ox was coming up on 15, still not old enough to get his driver’s license but experienced enough to reminisce on nearly three years of relative fame. Then, for almost two years, nothing came out. According to Ox, the pause in new music came as the result of a change in management, complications with his label, and artistic maturity that led him to explore new sounds. All of the sudden, at the end of 2020, Ox returned with his SWEET 16 mixtape, followed by UNORTHODOX 2 months later.

The two mixtapes feature a more developed version of Matt Ox—deeper voice, an increasingly focused and eccentric creative vision, and a raw, Philly-cut energy equally chaotic and infectious. Here’s a kid that four years ago, was introduced to the world as the face behind a fidget-spinning viral video, just catchy enough to stick. Today, he’s a 16-year-old breaking new ground and making true-to-self music, stamped with a resume of collaborations and stories that range far beyond his years.

Viral moments happen by the week in the current climate of music, it seems. When an artist stretches that overnight success into a career spanning four years and marked by constant evolution, it’s worthy of appreciation. Especially when that artist is barely old enough to get a driver license.

Four years later, Matt Ox is 16 and taking online classes while dropping some of his most forward-thinking music to date. We had the chance to get an update from Philly’s own about virality, being 12 years old in the spotlight, meeting artists like XXXTentacion and Earl Sweatshirt, and more. Read the full conversation below.

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