Interview: CHXPO is the hardest worker in hip hop

We spoke to CHXPO about his latest album Emo Savage, the struggle of being a West Cleveland rapper, and the drive behind his work ethic

It’s a hard job trying to trace the roots of CHXPO – finding any musical releases from the Cleveland native before 2016 takes some dedicated research. This is probably due to the fact that the 23 year old dropped an astounding 30 mixtapes last year. 

West Cleveland’s CHXPO is taking the underground by storm with his unique work ethic – photo credit @NaturalNativeFilms

An effort that the Based God himself would be proud of, CHXPO reportedly freestyled the entirety of all his 2016 projects, dropping them at a rate of almost one a week.

Taking the “quality over quantity” argument and flipping it on its head, CHXPO’s unrivalled work ethic and stream-of-consciousness recording style has seen him blow up in a major way, rising from a locally known trapper and MC, to one of the underground’s most talked about characters.

Amidst the hundreds of tracks in CHXPO’s back catalogue, there are common themes – collaborations with producers like Brandon Finessin, DJ Smokey, GamerBoomin, F1lthyOogie Mane, and ELF are a staple in his projects. Guest features are reasonably rare, however SGOD Records’ AGoff makes regular appearances, as well as members of Goth Boi Clique, Goth Money, and Awful Records.

While there may be some predictable elements of his music, you never truly know what to expect when pressing play on a CHXPO song. It could be a hair raising, offbeat ode to robbing and finessing recorded on a laptop microphone, an autotuned love song, or an anime influenced banger about life as a pirate.

This is the beauty of CHXPO’s music. The honesty is omnipotent, and the purity of his freestyles ensures you’re a passenger on whatever is happening in his life at all times.

Whether it be popping molly, sipping lean, hitting a lick, or feeling heartbroken and stuck in a rut, you’re there, and you can feel the energy.

This honesty is a part of what’s helped CHXPO build such a large fanbase in a reasonably short amount of time.

Casual rap fans may not be able to comprehend the buzz around his music on first listen, however when you involve yourself with CHXPO on a deeper level, you realise that it’s not just about the music. It’s about the character, the trapper, the lover, the entertainer – it’s all about CHXPO the person.

These days, the personality of a rapper is just as much of an art form and a draw for fans as the music is, something old heads fail to realise. The rise of internet-famous personalities like Lil B, Chief Keef, Gucci Mane, Riff Raff and Soulja Boy truly changed the rulebook on how to become successful, and it’s artists like CHXPO who are able to realise this, and reap the subsequent benefits that come with it.

Coming in to 2017, CHXPO’s primed to continue his dominant run – we spoke with him about some of his recent releases, what drives his work ethic, and his plans for the year ahead.

RunPoint: Your latest release ‘Emo Savage’ has a different vibe to most of your work, what inspired this project?

CHXPO: ‘Emo Savage’ was really inspired by my lil brother Lil Peep, as well as my boys Ben West and Joey Sap, and really I just felt inspired to make some more alternative sounding music.

RunPoint: You mentioned in your recent No Jumper interview that your were freestyling all your tracks last year.. Is this still your approach, or have you begun writing again?

CHXPO: Na, for now I’m still freestyling everything, even the hooks. I hardly even punch in any more, and there’s so many witnesses who’ve seen me one-take a verse, then a hook, then another verse, then another hook without no stopping… Shit crazy.

RunPoint: What motivates you to work so hard? Especially now that you’re seeing a lot of success.

CHXPO: Growing up the way I did, being from West Cleveland. Every other Cleveland rapper you can name is from the East side, like: Bone Thugs, Kid Cudi, Machine Gun Kelly, Chip Tha Ripper, Doe Boy, Ripp Flamez, Ray Jr. – and the list goes on and on. So I came in the game with something to prove, just for my side of town. I’m not saying I work harder then anyone, but I got 30 mixtapes done last year, you feel me?

And then, I have a lot of friends that are facing life in jail, or a long time in jail, and a lot of my friends have sacrificed their freedom for me, so that always pushes me to work. And whenever I’m ready to fuck up, those friends tap me on the shoulder and let me know what’s up.

RunPoint: Would you ever consider moving away from Cleveland?

CHXPO: Hell yeah, as soon as I get off probation I’m planning to… This shit lame as hell. I mean, I love my city, but the music scene here is lame as hell… Whole bunch of culture vultures.

RunPoint: When’s that likely to be? How do you think a move away will affect your career?

CHXPO: Hopefully it’ll be sooner than later… And it’s going to help a lot. This city I’m in don’t appreciate the culture. Again, I love my city,  but we don’t have many motherfuckers putting on for it. It’s like motherfuckers try put themselves on and don’t think about the city, and the rest of these motherfuckers pretending to be rich and famous. They don’t see who really be working.

RunPoint: You’ve already dropped five projects since January – are you aiming to release as many in 2017 as you did last year?

CHXPO: Yeah, if not more to be honest… I figure that five drops in the first few months is 1/6th of the projects from last year, so goddamn, I can definitely see myself beating that if I keep applying the pressure.

There’s no doubt that CHXPO’s stock is going to continue rising this year – follow him on Twitter, Soundcloud, and Instagram to stay connected with Cleveland’s next up.