XV-Mixtape Anthology

xv-mixtapeant
Coincidentally, a couple of older XV tracks came on during a shuffle this morning, and something occurred to me: did we ever get the F.I.F.A. audio? I’m aware remembering a relatively vague song from over 2 years ago is odd, but remember who you’re dealing with here.

Thankfully, this collection is seemingly the precursor to XV’s long-awaited debut album, The Kid With The Green Backpack, an LP that was originally intended to feature the aforementioned track. It’s great to hear that project is finally on its way, and as one of the most consistent and versatile young rappers over the last 4 years (and someone we’ve regularly championed throughout that time), it’s almost beyond belief that Warner haven’t been able to get that release out sooner. In the meantime, enjoy tagless and remastered versions of four of the more popular mixtapes from his back catalogue, Everybody’s Nobody, Vizzy Zone, Zero Heroes, and Popular Culture, and keep an eye out for some official LP releases coming soon.

XV-Mixtape Anthology

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XV & The Squarians-Squarians Vol. 1 (Mixtape)


After a couple of replayable drops from the tape over the past few days, XV and his team come through with the full 15 tracks to follow up on the buzz they’ve generated.

Given that it’s the first real opportunity for the Squarians to show off what they can do, features are rightfully limited on this one, though there are some notable guest producers including Xaphoon Jones and AraabMuzik to complement the board work of the Squarian’s own The Awesome Sound. Freddy High and Sez Batters have impressed on the releases we’ve had so far, the former particularly so, and here’s to hoping the rest of the tape holds up. Free grab and stream below.

XV & The Squarians-Squarians Vol. 1

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XV-Don't Like Remix ft. Sez Batters and Freddy High


It might be the sheer ignorance of it, but I still love hearing this beat and hook. There’s no real musical justification for it, so for simplicity let’s call it a guilty pleasure. In any case, getting the Squarian crew on it is always going to end well, and will certainly up the buzz ahead of that mixtape release later tonight/tomorrow morning.

Each of the trio does a good job with the thumping production, with the consistency in the intensity levels of the raps matching up excellently to the ferocity of the in-your-face beat, helped by two of the verses being relatively short and snappy. Sez opens (I think? I’m still figuring out whether its Freddy or Sez) with arguably the most aggressive verse of the three, passing on to XV who swaps intensity for intelligence with a couple of clever lines in a longer verse, before Freddy (or Sez) closes with a quick blast of brash lyricism. Good remix, be sure to keep an eye out for that mixtape later.

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XV and Freddy High-My Type of Party Freestyle


Up until yesterday, I had no idea XV and his Squarian crew were releasing a mixtape this weekend, but I’m certainly glad I found out. As a big fan of Vizzy’s work, I’ve got faith in his team to also deliver the goods, not least because the hugely-talented (and frequent XV producer) The Awesome Sound is likely to helm most of the beats.

With that said, Freddy High holds his own here. The beat is grabbed from Dom Kennedy’s track of the same name, and though I’m unfamiliar with the original, I must say its hard to imagine many others synergising with this beat as Freddy does. It’s a slow, synth-heavy production that throws out tons of atmosphere along with a bassy percussion for a beat that makes for a great winter drive track, and Freddy’s intensity makes for a nice contrast to that, though credit to XV who opens the track off well with his own contribution. Very enjoyable track, and expect more to drop ahead of that mixtape release.

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XV-Rise



His first release since the Popular Culture mixtape a little under 2 months ago, and it’s a solid track, though nothing that’ll particularly stand out in his strong back catalogue.

The highlight is definitely Vizzy’s work on the mic here, as he drops off his ever-contemporary raps, with references and a general wit that once again demonstrates why he’s gaining plenty of younger supporters. It seems he’s bearing most of the burden here though, as the production from frequent collaborator The Awesome Sound doesn’t seem to get out of first gear throughout, often threatening to explode into grandeur before becoming muted once again. XV called this a bonus track on his Twitter, and in truth that’s probably a good status for a solid but unspectacular track of this nature.

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XV-Stone Cold Video

New visuals from Vizzy, right on the back of his most recent mixtape release, Popular Culture. This clip was one of the first tracks released around the time XV announced the mixtape, and hence is a good choice for a clip given its familiarity with audiences.

The video’s pretty laidback and summery, taking place across what I assume to be XV’s hometown in various regular and everyday spots. There’s no real pretention here and for that reason it’s a very easy watch, showing XV as a regular guy whilst allowing him enough room to display a little energy and personality, not least by hanging around in a Stone Cold Steve Austin t-shirt.

The chilled, everyday nature of the video compliments the softer side of the production nicely, and hence this is a good all-round audiovisual that will certainly entice many into getting that mixtape, if they haven’t already.

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XV-Popular Culture Mixtape


Big fan of the artwork for this one, as XV throws together a whole host of pop culture icons in the classic Simpsons sofa scene, ranging from The Joker to Kim Kardashian. Some of the appearances are actually contextual, matching up to certain song titles on the 17-track tape, whilst the rest are referenced lyrically I’m sure.

We’ve already heard several tracks from this tape, which includes efforts as far back as the Inception-sampling The Kick from late last year. Of course, there’s loads of new stuff too, amongst which you’ll find appearances from B.o.B, ScHoolboy Q, Emilio Rojas and more. This seems to be a precursor to the upcoming Awesome EP, and hopefully his full-length debut album isn’t far behind. Free grab below.

XV-Popular Culture

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XV-Andy Warhol ft. Slim The Mobster


Another one from the upcoming Popular Culture tape, dropping on Friday, and this is probably the best track XV has put out as part of his recent barrage of music.

The track’s heavily based around Warhol’s famous ‘everyone will be famous for 15 (stylised as XV in the cover art) minutes‘, and that leads to Vizzy bringing an intensity that’s not often found in his work, giving his verse much more gravitas and depth with an intense, strong delivery throughout. The hook retains that vibe but throws in a nice catchy element that Slim provides the assist for, whilst the production combines pounding percussion with solid work on the keys that provides some excellent transitions throughout the track, adding a seriousness to the verses but switching to more uplifting chords for the hook. It’s definitely one of Vizzy’s more rounded tracks to date, and definitely worth a grab.

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XV-Be There, Be Square


Vizzy’s been very active recently, and thankfully there’s a project in sight to capitalise on his renewed buzz, with the Popular Culture set for release on 15th June, and this particular track is the first single from the tape.

This one’s a relatively feelgood effort, with XV proudly displaying his ‘square’ nature and coming through with an anthem for his fanbase, otherwise known as the Squarians. Produced by Xaphoon Jones of Chiddy Bang, the beat is a nice medley of chillout elements in the verses and amped-up, sharp percussion for the hook, keeping a laidback consistency in the track whilst adding a little energy. Vizzy’s raps are the same as ever: decent flow, a couple of very clever punchlines, and generally inoffensive. That being said, they do feel as though there’s something missing here, and it may just be that he didn’t quite command the beat as he normally does. Solid if unspectacular effort.

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XV-Tappin' Out (Cashin' Out Freestyle)


Taking on one of the mainstream’s favourites right now in Ca$h Out’s single (shout out to Ca$h’s management team, who are RELENTLESS with their email promotion), XV follows up his Stone Cold Steve Austin-referring track with one that features Bret Hart on the artwork. I already liked XV, but now I’m fully on board!

The production is light, upbeat and packs a nice bounce, making for a nice contrast to his previous laidback release. Vizzy takes on the playful beat well, laying his natural charisma on thick with a cool and confident hook (featuring a couple of submission references), followed by some characteristically witty raps packed into a couple of solid flows. A good show of versatility from XV with two distinctly different tracks in a short period of time, and hopefully there’s more to come.

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XV-Stone Cold (Recipe Freestyle)


Awesome. XV draws inspiration from Stone Cold Steve Austin for his first drop in a little while, titling it after the legendary wrestler and making a few fun references to him/his catchphrases throughout.

The production is very laidback, with a soft percussion blending with a mellow vocal sample and a couple of other easygoing elements to good effect, providing Vizzy with a backdrop that compliments his raps nicely. Those raps are sharp as ever, with the subject matter centred around his hometown for a nice personal feel, whilst the hook proclaims that hometown love with multiple Stone Cold catchphrases. A likeable all-rounder and a very easy listen.

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Sh*t You Forgot About: Episode 2


We’re into our second week of what proved a popular new feature last week, and you’re in for another journey not too far down memory lane. I call it Recollection Avenue.

This genre-less weekly episodical seems like the perfect opportunity to mix things up, and whilst there’s still ‘normal’ stuff in there, feel free to indulge yourself with the two curveballs I’ve thrown in this week.

Last week you may recall Kid Cudi featuring heavily, and this week’s theme is…April 2009. I’ll be honest, it was more coincidental than anything.

Head on below deck if you’re ready.
→ Continue Reading

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XV and Sez Batters-The L7 Motto

Either I missed the audio when it came out or XV is a little late to the party, but either way Vizzy comes through with his remix of Drake’s oft-remixed The Motto.

Though it’s delayed, the remixes did dry up a few weeks back, so this does actually benefit from coming in a little later as the production now sounds somewhat less overused. XV’s generally sharp with the raps and that’s the case here, with upbeat, bouncy flows that ride this wavy beat nicely, whilst relative unknown Sez Batters also comes through with what’s a confident, smoothed-out verse that has similarities to those on the ‘West Coast’ remix.

The video is comprised of tour footage, and comes with a decent mixture of show footage for energy and backstage/personal stuff for a more in-depth vibe. Nothing spectacular visually, but a solid accompaniment to a decent audio.

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XV - The Kick [Video]

Very poignant video here from XV as he gives us the visuals for his excellently atmospheric track, The Kick. The track samples a familiar track (familiar to those of you who’ve seen Inception!), and provides the backdrop for some tantalising introspection from XV.

I don’t have too much to add in terms of the analysis of the track as Ajay covered it well here (where you can also download this song).

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XV-Chaka Shao Khan


I saw the title and did wonder whether a mixture of the old-school songstress and Mortal Kombat villain would look anything short of horrifying. Thankfully, XV cleared that up for us with the artwork. Panic. Over.

Unsurprisingly, a Chaka Khan sample is used for the melody here, and ties nicely to the rest of the lively, key-driven production that DJ Tech-Neek serves up, and as a beat that has a mid-2000′s Kanye vibe, it’ll win many fans. Vizzy’s at home on almost any production, and one as easygoing as this proves no different as he provides an energetic yet controlled set of raps that further enhances his status as one of the more consistent MCs in the game. Props for that Triple H reference too.

XV-Chaka Shao Khan

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XV and Skrillex-Boss Level


New material from XV, and here Vizzy gets together with a man regarded as the US’ biggest foray into the dubstep genre, as Skrillex serves up the production (though purists assure me that his style isn’t actually ‘real’ dubstep). It’s a diverse production, with video game-esque samples that stay true to the title and artwork, and genuinely do have an early 90s gaming vibe (think games like Golden Axe), whilst the verses are packed with that dizzying, jaw-rattling bass that you’d expect from any dub-influenced track.

XV’s raps are solid enough, taking on a relatively tricky beat with relative ease and whilst it’s not exactly a lyrical masterclass, it certainly makes for a more enjoyable listen than the mainstream bragging usually found on these energetic, electronic productions. An OK track that will find a loving home in many of your libraries, but as I’m not so keen on the dub style, it won’t hang around in my rotation for too long.

XV-Boss Level

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XV-When We’re Done Video

Another excellent track from the Zero Heroes mixtape gets the video treatment (there were quite a few in truth!), with Vizzy selecting the uplifting yet thoughtful When We’re Done.

A well-made blend of energy and introspection, the production calls on a medley of styles with a futuristic feel in the vocal sample, a retrospective, wistful vibe from the key work and a little intensity with the crisp percussion work. XV’s raps equally combine styles, as he comes through with a motivational, often autobiographical message that rotates between inspiring and reflective.

The video is fairly simple and much like the audio appears to have two distinct ‘parts’, with much of the first half split between shots of XV rapping in a desolate space and also journeying the road, whilst the second half has a more celebratory, Carpe diem style that ranges from a night out to a little skydiving. Though the first half is a little slow moving, it’s a decent enough video supported by a strong audio. Grab that mixtape now.

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XV-Hoop Dreams


A little off the pace on this one, for which I apologise. Dropped last week at the tailend of XV’s rapid fire releases, this is another show of diversity as XV goes for a motivational style on Hoop Dreams.

Vizzy comes with an enjoyable storytelling style on this effort, nicely detailing a story of someone with basketball ambitions, and as expected with such a title and subject, there are plenty of basketball references interspersed within the lyrics for the NBA fans out there. The production is an easygoing blend of ambience and intensity, with atmospheric synths and samples placed alongside a sharp, crashing percussion, combining for an accurate capture of the thoughtful yet ambitious nature of the lyrics. Another good effort from Vizzy, and hopefully there’s more to come soon.

XV-Hoop Dreams

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XV-Wichita Video

Visuals for the excellent track from the equally-excellent Zero Heroes mixtape. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the finer productions on the tape, courtesy of Just Blaze, who not only provides a fantastic string-driven production, but offers XV one of his bigger co-signs to date.

Rightfully, the video has a personal theme, being centered around XV’s day-to-day happenings in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas. It fits both the relatively biographical lyrics and the melodic production, giving the entire package a nice holistic feel with each element suitably enhancing the other.

Another good release from XV, on the back of his recent spate of top quality material. Grab the track and the entire mixtape for free here.

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XV and Trae Tha Truth-Batteries


Another quick strike from XV, as he comes through with yet more really enjoyable material, immediately after releasing one of his finest efforts to date with The Kick.

The production here has a nice blend of soft synth work, light samples (both vocal and electronic) and a thumping bass, offering a strong hip-hop sensibility with a sprinkling of mainstream influence to make this a wide-reaching, accessible beat. The raps from both artists are very enjoyable, and surprisingly Trae probably takes the win thanks to his husky tones offering a superb contrast to the lively production, whilst his rapid delivery is another highlight of his performance. XV is certainly enjoyable with his own work, and this is another solid effort from Vizzy. What I want to know is, where’s the audio for that F.I.F.A. track?!

XV-Batteries ft. Trae Tha Truth

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XV-The Kick


XV’s not one to hold back with his material, and he lets loose of another track hot on the heels of releasing his BITSTU freestyle. Crucially, his quality is kept at a great standard even with such frequent releases: with that said, this is quite possibly one of his strongest releases to date.

The production is unlike anything I’ve heard XV on previously, sampling Hans Zimmer’s Time (from the Inception score) for a dark, atmospheric production that also boasts a fantastic progressiveness. XV’s rarely slack with the raps, and delivers a passionate performance that uses the slow build of the beat very well, whilst his lyricism blends introspection with a little storytelling and comes laced with numerous Inception references. Very enjoyable music from start to finish, and unquestionably one of his most rounded, captivating tracks to date. Shame he’ll probably never get official sample clearance for this to release it as a single, but there we are!

XV-The Kick

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XV-BITSTU Freestyle


For those that are unaware, BTSTU is the Jai Paul track sampled by Drake and 40 for Dreams Money Can Buy.

XV cleverly switches the title to represent him being ‘Back.In.The.STU‘, grabbing the instrumental from the original rather than the more popular Drake version, and lacing it with some really enjoyable raps. Vizzy’s never been a slacker with his delivery, and here he brings a flexible range of flows along with his witty lyricism for a very enjoyable remix. Admittedly, I was a little overwhelmed by the production on the original version when initially exposed to it, but XV’s raps soften its somewhat jagged, experimental edges considerably, and hence it’s a likeable effort that feels more like a genuine remix rather than a freestyle.

XV-BITSTU Freestyle

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XV-30,000 Feet Up In The Sky


XV has quite the growing fanbase, and having reached 30,000 followers on Twitter, XV let this cut loose to commemorate that particular milestone.

One key facet of Vizzy’s appeal to date is the sheer diversity of his music, with the unpredictable beat selection making for interesting and exciting listening. This is no exception, as he blends together a bassy dub-influence with a soulful vocal sample to provide a very addictive production, combining the intensity of the pulsating bass hits with the airy vibe of the vocal sample for a well-rounded backdrop. His raps are solid as ever, with some memorable lines (particularly liked ‘my label is asking for hits I’m thinkin’ I’m steadily bringing up kilos‘) switching up his flows regularly and riding this tricky beat comfortably. Another decent effort from XV as he keeps fans on their toes once more with that unpredictable style.

XV-30,000 Feet Up In The Sky

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XV-Phobia


As I’m holding down the fort over the weekend I’ve had to delve into things I might otherwise have left for my fellow co-writers. XV is an artist I’ve seen pop up here now and again (Ajay’s lane I think) and this is the first time I’ve checked for the guy. Not really my thing from an artist I (rightly or wrongly) categorize as ‘skateboard rap’ but don’t let that put you off. The soft production and easy-flow raps here on Phobia are sure to go down well with some.

XV-Phobia

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XV-Watch Me Go


Having reached 25,000 followers on Twitter, XV took to the internets to let loose of this J. Cole-produced effort that didn’t quite make the cut for the recent Zero Heroes mixtape.

It’s not the first time these guys have worked together, with SmallVille being a previous work of the duo, and it appears they’ve got some decent chemistry as this is another enjoyable effort. A fairly soft yet punchy synth makes up the primary melody, and works comfortably alongside various vintage samples to create a fairly simple and memorable production. It works nicely to bring the emotion and tone of Vizzy’s voice out, and when coupled with some solid raps throughout it’s a very easy and likeable listen.

XV-Watch Me Go

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XV-Zero Heroes Mixtape


I’m very excited to listen to this tape, and I’ve got no doubts that anyone who has listened to XV’s material in recent months will share my anticipation here.

Having heard a few of the tracks directly from this mixtape, it’s fair to say they probably represent some of the highlights of the aforementioned back catalogue, which is really saying something about their quality. I really hope this is a breakout project for XV too, as he’s certainly due some real acknowledgement, and has the talent to back up any hype that comes his way. Enough talking him up anyway, grab the mixtape for £0.00 below!

XV-Zero Heroes

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XV-When We’re Done


From Vizzy’s upcoming Zero Heroes, dropping at short notice: next Friday! The artwork is included here, and it’s pretty damn nice in truth. Click here to see a bigger version, it’s definitely worth it!

XV has been on a great run of form with his music in recent months, and for that reason this project is immaculately timed to take advantage of the resulting buzz. This particular track is yet another superb one, with an atmospheric and eclectic production built up of a drifty melody on the keys, sharp percussion, energetic synths and a catchy vocal sample. Enjoyable raps as ever, with Vizzy coming through on a retrospective style that works as a positive, forward-thinking effort. Couple that with a memorable and inspirational hook, and this probably goes down as one of the more ‘complete’ songs in XV’s collection.

XV-When We’re Done

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XV and Miami Horror-Foreign Exchange Student


Very nice track from XV. Coming through on an retro-uptempo vibe, Vizzy lays some uplifting lyrics about a lady of his interest over a fantastically perky production that has a hugely adddictive summer vibe.

The beat brings a crossover style, blending pop, dance and alternative together to deliver an uptempo, bouncy funk that emits a hugely infectious positivity. Those ‘happy vibes really fit the brighter weather we’ve (occasionally) seen recently, and this is certainly nicely timed. Vizzy’s been on a great run of form with both his beat selections and raps recently, and the latter are once again a nice show of diversity as he runs through the qualities of what sounds like a pretty awesome girl! Hugely uplifting, and definitely worth checking out to brighten your day.

XV-Foreign Exchange Student ft. Miami Horror

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Erin Christine and XV-Naked


Outside of one or two plays the pop scene isn’t really my thing, but Erin’s work is getting some serious playtime from me. Naked in particular hovers that pop/alternative boundary, giving it an engaging and ultimately addictive quality that has made it a highlight of the pop scene.

XV links up with Erin once more (here for the first time) for what I assume is the official remix of Erin Christine’s superb single, and comes through with yet another very enjoyable performance. He shows his subject versatility here and keeps with the vibe of the original on his well-delivered and intelligent verse. Many rappers would have stuck to ‘what they know’: this feature proves that contextual verses make guest spots worthwhile. You can check out an acoustic performance of the original track here, and/or grab the audio for the original studio version here.

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