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West London Rapper Xadi is Bringing Intellect and Soul to the Game

  • Music
  • Interview
  • 4 minute read

Having steadily forged a cult listenership with his blend of intellectual conscious rap and his versatile array of instrumentals and flows, West London rapper and producer Xadi has been taking dub after dub in 2022.

His latest EP, Floating in Lilac, continues this ascent, showing flashes of lyrical maturity and sonic finesse that set Xadi in good stead for the rest of the year and beyond. Learn more about Xadi below as he swings through The Basement’s studio for a catch-up

For those who don't know you yet, give us a brief introduction to yourself.

I am a music lover and have been for as long as I can remember so when the time came, becoming an artist was the only thing I wanted to do. I’m quite a meticulous person and have a bit of an obsessive streak so am hands on with every step of the process, mixing, mastering, and producing all of my music. I was born and raised in hounslow so it’s always had an influence on my music.

Tell us a little about your latest EP, Floating in Lilac

My new EP came out on the 18th of March. It’s called Floating in Lilac and is my most concise and cohesive project to date. The name of the project came about when I was writing the last song, and was in a bit of a reflective and down place, I started recognising that a lot of my best traits are double edged. I have this constant need to be chasing something, no matter what it is, there always has to be some overarching thing I’m chasing. Floating in lilac is supposed to represent someone chasing stars, suspended inbetween the place they started and grew up, and the shiny they’re chasing. The lilac comes from the earths atmosphere making the stars look prettier than they really are, making them look like they wouldn’t burn you if you ever got close to them. 

How has your life and where you're from affected your music?

The content of my music is definitely affected by where I grew up and our circumstances. Myself, and a lot of my close mates came from single parent families which I think brought us closer, we kind of turned into each other’s brothers. So my opinions of my own music will be influence by whether the people I trust feel it. Also just some of the stupid situations we got ourselves into when we were younger crops up as a theme in my music quite a bit. 

Where does the name Xadi come from?

It’s a variation of my birth name Hadim (often spelt Xadim), which is a name or religious and cultural importance in Senegal which is where my dad is from. I think a lot of my creativity and willingness to take risks comes from Senegal so it fit the part to represent me as an artist

Xadi - Profile - Interview - head on
Xadi - Profile - Interview - profile
Who are your biggest inspirations, musical or otherwise?

Definitely the people around me, Centeno paints all of my artworks and they inspire me so much creatively, how he can capture things and put such a beautiful spin on them. My girlfriend runs a charity that provides new clothing from high quality brands to refugees and asylum seekers, that’s inspiring as fuck to me. One of my other friends does amazing styling work, another called is a footballer, which despite what a lot of people think, seems like a really tough job and the self awareness he has inspires me. There are too many to name but those around me definitely make my eyes light up 

What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced so far in your career?

Keeping mentally calm. Building something off of your own back is tough because your neck is constantly on the line. I work relentlessly, but trying put things in perspective when deals/releases or whatever it may be is really important and something that I recently have started to dedicate time to. Realising some things just aren’t in your control, if a release doesn’t go to plan, remain calm and go again, taking ice cold showers has really helped.

What's your perception of the scene currently?

Healthy AF. I straddle a couple of scenes, whether its the more Alt-R&B stuff or the Alt-Rap stuff, and both of them are thriving and getting the attention that they deserve and I feel lucky to be a part of both and put my stamp on them. I didn’t come in to this ever thinking about scenes but supporters of my music introduced me to a lot of the other musicians I am positioned next to and I’m so glad that they did.

Xadi - Profile - Interview - tree
Xadi - Profile - Interview - cuff
Who is your dream collab?

I’m not even going to try and pretend to sound cool or anything, it’s Drake. 

If you could shout one person / project / thing out, who would it be?

So random but right this instant Romesh Ranganathan hahah. I very often struggle to switch off from the creative process and in recent months especially I just bang out his content. More than anything that guy just helps me to take a break from my ideas running away with themselves.

What does the future look like for Xadi?

Fackin rosy I hope. I’ve got a big headline show coming up at Peckham Audio on June 22nd, and I just came back from my first festival which was great,  Liverpool sound City. I’m working on new music right now but am not going to rush anything as I’m really enjoying playing all of these live shows and I’m starting to learn that life needs a bit of balance! 

How would you like people to remember you?

I used to take more pride in the fact that I was completely self-sufficient with the music making process, but as time has gone on the concept and feeling behind it has started to mean so much more to me. I want to be remembered as a dreamer, from being a mixed race kid who wanted to pick up a guitar having not seen that at the forefront of music, to a someone who can work in a team to pair pieces of my brother’s art with my music. A person who dreamed that he could do it and overcame the doubt.

Paolo Cimarra