I recently had the wonderful opportunity to interview Josh X, who has recently written for hip hop’s current no. 1 female rapper Cardi B. Not only have the pair collaborated on “Heaven on My Mind,” but Josh X can be seen in the “Bodak Yellow” video, as well as being accredited for producing and writing 2 songs on Cardi B’s latest mixtape. Josh X is definitely a megastar in the making, with talent, substance, and acute musicianship that is ready to take your soul to the next level.
Josh X’s music is almost as unique as his background, born to Haitian parents in Brooklyn New York, Josh has studied at Julliard in classical piano. Some may ask “how does a classically trained musician end up working in hip-hop”? Josh attributes his studies and success to a promise his mother made to herself at a young age. “Growing up my mother wanted to take lessons but her parents were not able to afford them…when she came to the United States at a very young age she kind of taught herself to play…she vowed that when she had her own kids that they would play the piano…which is how I was introduced to the piano.” While at Julliard, Josh X discovered his passion was no longer for classical music, where he also studied jazz and eventually transferred to focus more on r&b music. “As I got older I said I really love R&B music, the artist I loved and listen to was Brian McKnight because he was a piano player.”
This past March, Josh X released the critically-acclaimed mixtape, “AMOUR” with close to 2 million streams. AMOUR is definitely not your everyday mixtape, in fact, I would not call it a mixtape at all, instead, I would call it a baby maker. “A lot of people see me with tattoos and don’t think I am about to play Chopin or Bach, I am an artist that really just represents music.” Josh X’s sound mixes various feels, from r&b, reggaeton extravasated of romance, passion and sex appeal. The album’s title, AMOUR, truly encompasses all of the song’s themes. The album gives me a contemporary troubadour feeling, something music has been lacking. I too love a good trap song and club banger, but I wish more rappers spoke from the heart and showed compassion for their love interest. This perhaps is why Drake has been so widely successful, as he has the ability to mix rap and compassion in a way that resonates with both men and women. Josh X, mixtape AMOUR resonates with me with the same ease and appeal that has garnered Drake much success in the industry. With velevty vocals, beautiful instrumentation, and strong reggaton influnce in the beats, AMOUR takes credence in ingenuity and beauty. I would expect nothing less from an artist endorsed by Steve Wonder, to which he promised that he, “ had to be an artist that helps and brings happiness and uplift people with my music.” Still, Josh X brings a level sophisticated swag to r&b that has been so truly needed as of late.
His next album “Trapped in Loved,” is one song away from being completed. Josh X describes the masterpieces asa mix of “traditional r&b sound and put them on top of trap productions.” For me, I have never been a big fan of r&b music, sure I love early Whitney Houston, but her crossover songs, especially her ballads have always been my favorite songs I listened to growing up. When she transitioned into popular music, her soul poured gospel, and r&b into every perfectly placed note within her range. This idea of mixing genres, styles, and sounds is the true work of an artist’s ability to find their own unique voice within an industry that prides itself on originality. But my disdain for r&b music is not just a personal preference but universal movement towards hip-hop seen across the globe. Hip-hop is the top selling genre this year, finally outselling country music. This is significant to the field because, for me, it is a cultural phenomenon that a genre once displaced is finally earning financial and musical success, at a level in which many have felt it always should have had. Still the soul of r&b is deeply needed more so now then ever, as Josh X explains, “We are living in a very complex time where it is better to hate than to love, and when you look at r&b music, that was about love and putting yourself first, respecting yourself, and not letting people break your heart. Today’s music is about popping pills, getting drunk, and getting intoxicated, love is getting pushed out of the way.” Josh wants to bring to hop-hip motives and themes that for thousands of years have been the pinnacle of the musical
Josh wants to bring to hop-hip motives and themes that for thousands of years have been the pinnacle of the musical canon, love, heartbreak, upliftment, and soul. As of late, mainstream music has turned away from this and decided to focus on escapism, running away from the truth of pain, poverty, and burden. While I love so much of trap music, I often find myself perturbed by the lyrics and subcultures that not only consume the artist lyrics but the personification of being. I look forward to hearing more Josh X, as I do feel the world needs more music that aims to bring hope and inspire, sure we need to turn up for the club, but we also need to turn up for our soul.
Check out Josh X mixtape Amour below.
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