Home for TheHxliday: A Conversation With Motown Records’ Heartbroken Balladeer

TheHxliday
TheHxliday | Photo Credit - Travis Shinn

TheHxliday’s pop-tinged vocals turn the darkest of moments into life lessons. A hybrid of rap and gleeful melodies, the Baltimore, Maryland rep built an entire audience from the comfort of his own bedroom, literally. Throughout 2020, the young artist’s intoxicating style and self-described “sad boy sound” has championed his unconventional rise to stardom, citing collaborative efforts with the likes of Internet Money and acclaimed music video director Cole Bennett (Lyrical Lemonade). 

The heartbroken balladeer’s affinity for melody stems from studying his mom early on. “My mom is a big part of my inspiration because she was a big part of me wanting to be in music.” Like mother, like son – or however the pithy expression goes – TheHxliday followed in the footsteps of his rockstar inspirer, who would often practice with her fellow bandmates at home. But when you begin to analyze how the eclectic emcee got his start in music, traditional schooling was never the focus, the rapper lifestyle has always been TheHxliday’s modus operandi, M.O.

“When my attendance in school started getting really bad, that was the reason why my grades were dropping, because I stopped showing up.” 

Personally, I didn’t possess a thirst for institutionalized learning either, school just wasn’t my passion, but I did what needed to be done and the rest is history. In TheHxliday’s case, he chose an alternative route, homeschooling. In retrospect, being homeschooled prompted the rapper-singer to really hone in on his maverick mentality, but he has always been somewhat of a loner, or as he states, “I was an antisocial kid bro.”

Whether he’s in a pensive mood from exploring the range of heartbreak experienced in the past, or finding comfort in pain through offloading cryptic mentions on wax, the studio is seen as a refuge from a damaged world: music is TheHxliday’s escape from reality. 

With Batbxy, a 6-track EP that tackles love, mental health and drug-induced feelings of despair, TheHxliday’s candy-coated trap sound is amplified. It’s like he’s calling out for help right before a hypnotic bassline drops and his hapless pursuit of love ensues. Today, the Motown Records signee shared the music video for “NxBody,” a personal effort that speaks on trust issues and other internalized bouts of struggle. “This track is crazy. I mean, I really don’t trust nobody (laughs). It’s just like…that’s why I put it as the first line. This is a song that talks about how I feel. To be honest with you, I just stay to myself,” TheHxliday admits to me during our conversation.   

Check it out below.

How would you best describe life growing up in Perry Hall? 

It’s pretty middle-school related (laughs). My friends would throw parties all the time, we just invited all the kids in my grade. We went crazy, I’m not gon’ lie! And I was an antisocial kid bro. My boys just threw lit parties, but through those parties I had met my toxic girlfriend though. 

I was always cut off bro, no matter what. My mom, she always spits knowledge at me. Even when I go home, till this day, she always tells me something I never knew. My mom is a big part of my inspiration because she was a big part of me wanting to be in music. All I had were just my brothers, who would damn near beat me up everyday. It wasn’t beef or anything, I’d always get put in my place as a little brother. Not anymore though, I got security now (laughs). 

Looking back on things, did being homeschooled prompt you to become more independent and free-thinking? You’re not dealing with other students and distractions etc., so I imagine that moment in time helped you shift focus. 

Actually, I think it was the time before that when I really started becoming independent. When my attendance in school started getting really bad, that was the reason why my grades were dropping, because I stopped showing up. I don’t know how to explain it to you, but I was psyched about music bro. 

The fact that you started out using GarageBand is unique in itself. 

I still use it. I’ll never leave it. Bro, I made “Save Me” in 15 minutes. “Save Me” was fast because I remember after I had made that song, I made another track called “Late Night Feelings”, which is on the re-released version (of Broken Halls) actually. 

Musically, how does heartbreak factor in? It seems like that feeling provides you with creative inspo. 

Honestly, my first real girlfriend, at that time, that was something that actually sparked a lot of my music – I have over 1400 songs in my log. I was just splurging through hundreds of songs: I had something to talk about, but I couldn’t get it out in one song. 

Is it fair to say that music is your safe haven?

Yeah, it’s really my diary.  

What is your stance on internet culture and the death grip it has on today’s youth?

The internet is so crazy bro because it’s so powerful. When you’re an artist and have a platform, it’s something that you gotta be grateful for. You have some type of voice, but the whole thing is about building that voice and building the listeners. Honestly, when I tell people I wanna be the biggest artist in the world, it’s not nothing cocky: I really wanna takeover and turn all of these kids into open-minded individuals. Learning to accept everything for what it is and learn how to give things a chance.

When you’re alone, what thoughts consume your mind?

Shit, I gotta go crazier tomorrow. Everyday, it’s always something new happening, and that’s what I love about being an artist. When you really think about this music stuff, it’s so much fun. It’s just a big school of artists, it’s so fire. I really just wanna bring everyone together, bring certain people together to create the biggest project. Something where people would feel like they’ve never expected these two people to collab.

Let’s talk about this a bit more, what would be that out of left field feature that no one would expect from TheHxliday? 

I’d have to say Ty Dolla $ign for sure. One day, me and Ty Dolla $ign will cross paths and make one crazy ass song. 

What do you fear most?

I think what I fear most is people perceiving me as the wrong type of artist. That’s not even really a fear…even if that is something that happens, I’m always gonna do my best to prove myself. That’s just me at the end of the day. 

Does being so emotionally intact with your music ever become draining? “Sad boy sound” seems so gloomy. 

Not gonna lie, last year, I was giving myself anxiety with making some of these sad ass songs (laughs). Now, I’m more on my happy shit, so I don’t get too overwhelmed. It’s a way for me to get it (emotions) out though, so if anything it’s helping me. 

Finally, would a younger Noah be proud of the man that TheHxliday is becoming?

Hell yeah! If I could look at myself in the mirror two-years ago, I’d be happy as well. I’ve reached a lot of the accomplishments that I set for myself. Now, I’m at a point where I feel like I gotta set higher goals for myself. 2016 me, seeing me right now, I’d be proud of myself.

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