Yung Xavi has been through hell and back, and now he’s turning that pain and sorrow into joy and peace of mind. Born and raised in Palm Springs, the rising star narrates his life through his music, telling his story through captivating lyrics that effortlessly touch the souls of all those who listen.
Losing his father is just one chapter in Xavi’s life, as he takes those unresolved emotions and feelings and turns them into a full body of work titled To Jonathan.
Inspired by the likes of Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert, the forthcoming project serves as a love letter to his late father — which he describes as the first time he’s ever felt connected to his father.
AllHipHop: I hardly interview artists from Palm Springs. What’s it like growing up there?
Yung Xavi: Definitely not a lot to do. My mom made the most of what I could do activity-wise. I was involved with as many sports as I could be: tennis, soccer, horseback riding, dance. I did baseball for a year, did volleyball, did track, cross country, golf. [flutters lips] Besides that, putting in many musical things and in the arts. Had me in acting, had me in theater, bands in and out of school. I really was all over the place and got my hands on as many things as I could.
AllHipHop: When did music come into play for you?
Yung Xavi: I’ve been a musician for most of my life honestly. My mom gave me the wonderful opportunity of signing me up for piano and drums at an early age. I started piano when I was 3 years old, drums at 8. Same as sports as well. A kid with a lot of dreams, I was all over the place. I really wanted to do whatever I put my mind to. If one thing didn’t work out, I was hard on myself at times. I did lose myself at times. It wasn’t until I really decided to focus on music when I found this was going to be my ultimate dream. I stopped doing everything and focused on one thing, something that I loved.
AllHipHop: When did you discover you could rap over your own piano loops?
Yung Xavi: I learned classical piano for the longest time, until I was around 6th grade when I started to switch it up. It wasn’t until I saw or heard “Changes” by Tupac and the classical spin: hip hop mixed with the Bruce Hornsby composition over Tupac’s lyrics, then the hip hop base. I was inspired to learn that song, inspired to learn the lyrics and rap over that. It wasn’t until I discovered I could do that cohesively that I was inspired to write my own piano samples and write my own lyrics.
AllHipHop: What was the inspiration behind your name?
Yung Xavi: Xavi had been a nickname of mine for the longest time. I joined a soccer team at 12 or 13, I started getting more into soccer. There’s this soccer player named Xavi who I reminded them a lot of because I was really fast. All I really had was speed, I had no really any ball control. I was really fast, I could beat everybody to the ball, and I could shoot a little bit. [laughs] It stuck like that. I didn’t want to think about it too much. I wanted to be like everybody else, so I put a Yung in front of it. Lil Xavi sounded weird, so I’ma put Yung.”
AllHipHop: What inspired your new record, “Take Me Home”?
Yung Xavi: Throughout my life, I really struggled with a lot of addictions. I always ended up coming back to something. Right now at this point in my life, I’m the strongest I’ve ever been in my entire life, just with everything going on. I have a wonderful relationship with my girlfriend, I have a wonderful relationship with music. All I do is hope and pray that I won’t let these addictions get the best of me again.
That’s what the hook is describing: hoping and praying I get home and keep on doing everything that I do. Keep on letting the days go over and not let the little things get to me, or I get myself back into the hole I was once. Focus on the wishes in the verses. The first verse is talking about my relationship with my girlfriend, the second verse is talking about my relationship with music. Using those outlets to the best of my ability and to always hold them near and dear, never let them go.
AllHipHop: What were you struggling with, if you don’t mind me asking?
Yung Xavi: So many things to be honest. I started smoking weed at the age of 13, that’s never been the drug of issue. Honestly, weed’s really brought me out of a lot of other addictions, especially when I’m getting cravings or I’m feeling that s###. Besides that, I definitely had a phase dabbling with coke for a minute, Adderall, lean, Percs, Narcos, bars. I used to do a lot of psychedelics, Salvia, a lot of acid. I did acid one too many times, shrooms as well. I still do a little bit of microdosing here and there, I’ve honestly gotten my best ideas from microdosing. Besides that, with the help of weed and everything else now, I’m down to weed and nicotine. I’m still trying to get off nicotine right now.
AllHipHop: How did losing your father affect you? Your new project To Jonathon is inspired by him.
Yung Xavi: The entire body of the album is all the things I was holding onto for my entire childhood that I couldn’t move on from. For the longest time, I felt stuck being 8 years old. This happens to a lot of people who deal with passing and losing someone near and dear to them, they try to understand and comprehend what that person was thinking and what they were going through. I honestly did exactly that, it was really stupid of me to do that. I unintentionally went down the same drug road my dad went down, Trying to figure out why he felt that way or what mindset he had.
I may have felt the same numbness he felt, the same addictive feeling he had, but I never understood the way he was thinking and I never could. It wasn’t until I put that out through my lyrics, I physically saw it and put it into song. I physically heard it, it all really make sense to me. It took that and going to 2 rehabs, OD-ing a bunch of times as well, but finding something positive I could connect to him with and share certain experiences I wanted to share with him. I was never going to be able to understand, I’m not trying to understand anymore. I’m trying to forgive and cherish what I did know. I’m trying to honor him, rather than disrespect him and go down the same road he did.
AllHipHop: Is this the most vulnerable you’ve been with your music?
Yung Xavi: I’ve honestly always been vulnerable with my music. I don’t really know how else to write. Nothing else really comes to me, music really does it for me. It really helps me breathe and move onto the next day, everyday. For the longest time, I was stuck on the same day. I could never move on, I had so many thoughts going through my mind. It wasn’t like I could choose one thought and focus on it, really figure everything out I was feeling behind it. It really wasn’t until I put it on paper and wrote it out. I put everything, all the feelings out onto it. I laid it out in the studio and cried my f###### heart out. All that was hard.
AllHipHop: What do you do now for self-care?
Yung Xavi: I definitely try to focus on the relationship I have with my girl, focus on the music. That’s really all that’s helped me. I’ve had therapists and therapists, I’ve talked to so many people. I’ve been to rehabs, there wasn’t anything the rehabs did for me. It wasn’t until I made the dumb realization that I had music as an outlet I could’ve been using my entire life. Why didn’t I tap into at all whatsoever? I sat down and tried to write something in rehab, that’s where I found my refuge and I coped.
I wrote everyday. From then on, never stopped writing. Never stopped thinking about wanting to do more songs. It wasn’t even so much really having a career, I was addicted to making songs. It came to a point where I didn’t really want to do anything else with my life, didn’t see myself doing anything else. I did it all my junior and senior year, with the homies going to local studios. Wherever I could go to get as much experience, because I wanted it to sound better. I wanted it to sound clearer to me. I wanted it to sound more professional. It wasn’t really for anyone else at the time. I wanted it to sound the way I wanted it to and I needed more experience for that.
It didn’t get more serious until the end of my senior year. We had this senior year internship/project thing where we go intern at a future job we’d want to do. I sat down with the head person directing the whole thing for the senior class, I asked him “I’ve been saving up some money, I’ve always wanted to do it. Would it be possible to have my senior project be a music video? I’ll set up the production, get a camera team. I’ll write a report and everything,” because that’s one of the things I’ve always wanted to do. They were so down. They said “Yeah that’s so cool, you could show it to everybody.” That was the plan so I did that. A lot more people were impressed than I thought there were going to be. My mom especially was really excited, she sent it off to a bunch of her buddies from high school that grew up to be musicians in the future. A new couple of A&Rs and I got in touch with Ruben’s record label, it was game over from there.
Yung Xavi: Yeah, literally game over. I flew out to New York half a week later. Ruben’s an amazing dude. There’s very few people in the music industry really looking out for the benefit of the artist. Honestly, to get somebody that’s such a huge juggernaut in the radio industry is a blessing to me at the end of the day. Look at me now, I’m f###### talking to you. I’ve been seeing you all over the place. I really appreciate you taking the time talking to somebody like me.
AllHipHop: Thank you so much. Talk about using your music and life story to want to help others.
Yung Xavi: I want to help people make the same realization. Every solution to everyone’s problems are different. It’s up to you to really find it, to make that self-discovery and to take that step to not be afraid. Especially with me, I want to make it almost challenging for myself and choose hip hop as the genre. I know it’s a dominant genre at the time-being. I want to push myself and really show the world that hip hop can be something that’s universal, because everybody loves hip hop.
At the same time, anybody who loves music can be an artist if they really want to put their heart, mind, and work into that. It’s up to you to find whatever you love, put your work into it, and you’ll find your way. The path is a line. I didn’t even think about it so much, it just happened. I buckled down, grinded for 2 years on my own, creating piano samples and writing lyrics by myself. It went on to finding little studios I could go to. One little phone call, one little opportunity and you’re there. Keep on believing, you’re doing it for something that’s positive and something that you love. It’s going to show true. That path is going to come clear and right for you like how it did for me, and I want to show that.
AllHipHop: How would you describe your fashion sense?
Yung Xavi: Honestly, I didn’t really have a fashion sense. A lot of people ask me about the bandana. That’s a huge thing: “Oh, you’re trying to act like a gang member.” No bro, I honestly ran track a lot and I always either wore headbands or bandanas. It turned into an athlete thing, to more of a fashion statement later down the line. It was weird to not have one on. I was always running, always doing some athletic thing. It’s always stuck on my head ever since 6th, 7th grade. I like how it keeps everything out of my face. I might have my hair up. I always sweated a lot so it keeps everything clear up on the forehead area.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?
Yung Xavi: Your dreams aren’t for everybody so keep your head up no matter what, whatever dreams you set yourself up towards. Don’t let anybody bring your head down because that’s something you love and enjoy, there’s nobody else who should take that away from you because they’re not there. Being alone, we might let social media and certain things control us more. We might not have as big of a support system as we want right now.
All the people we want around us, but none of those people matter because they weren’t there since the beginning. Definitely if you’re struggling with your dreams, you’re struggling with anything right now, keep your head up because if you love and enjoy it, keep on running with it. Nobody should tell you anything else.