Fire Starter: XV
XV is just being himself. With a passion for video games, an affinity for porn and a love for hip-hop, the Warner Bros. signee has been making quite the name for himself, but it's been a long road to his discovery.
"From the start of my career, like a lot of artists who start their music career, I followed suit," XV admits. "I followed what I thought was hot. I followed what I thought my city would want to hear." His city, Wichita, Kansas, is the largest city in the state, with a population of just under 400,000 people. XV, who got his name because he started rhyming at the age of 15, insists that his hometown is quite different from what most hip-hop fans would imagine. "It's not what you think Kansas would be," he said. "You watch 'Wizard of Oz' and you'll be like, 'There's a bunch of farms and haystacks everywhere.' It's not even like that."
Vizzy, who grew up on the north side of Wichita, says that negative influences from his 'hood influenced his rhymes early on, before he decided to just be himself. "I have my phase where I was pointing my finger guns at the camera," he said with a chuckle. "When I realized that if I am the one to put the city on the map, that would be a front. I was like, 'Yo, I have to be Donovan.' "
XV has been dropping free mixtapes on the Internet ever since, slowly building his digital buzz before signing with Warner Bros. in July 2010. "Once I did that, I feel like people latched on more because they saw the genuine side of me," he said.
Vizzy's most recent mixtape release, Zero Heroes, dropped on April 15 and features production by Just Blaze, J. Cole and Seven, as well as verses from Pusha T, Vado and Kendrick Lamar. "I wanted to make a breakthrough mixtape that was my first introduction to the whole world," Vizzy said.
The rapper hopes that his official debut album, The Kid With the Green Backpack, will drop sometime this year. He's already begun working with Just Blaze and his longtime producer Seven, but XV is in no rush to drop an album just for the sake of dropping an album. He's still building his fanbase. "It comes down to how big the market I create [is] at the time," he said. He's already waited this long.
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