by Richard L. Figueroa / Advertising Manager
When 22-year-old rapper Xavier Robert—better known as YOUNG XAV—was working on his debut album “After Dark,” he fell asleep behind the wheel 400 feet away from his house and ended up driving into a restaurant on the corner of his block.
“That was a ‘I had to slow down’ type of moment. I wasn’t sleeping, I was just working nonstop,” said Robert.
Robert had been working constantly, creating content quickly and steadily. After releasing his first work, an EP titled “Beside the Dying Fire” in 2018, he released his album titled “After Dark” in 2019. He considers “Beside the Dying Fire” to be a project coming out of Xavier Robert rather than YOUNG XAV, since at the time he released the EP no one knew he was making music yet.
“I like to think my music goes in chapters like that,” said Robert. “YOUNG XAV became a thing during the production and creation of ‘After Dark.’”
During the time Robert was working on “After Dark,” he was focused on marketing a successful album launch. He teamed up with a Chicago-based media production company called Clark St. Collective. They began to create both pre-release and post-release marketing campaigns for the album, creating high-quality digital content.
“We started to work on his album ‘After Dark,’ and that was a pretty long process,” said Jimmy Kurz, the director of marketing for Clark St. Collective. “From start to finish we worked on video shoots to build promo and shot the album cover.”
During the summer of 2019, Robert embarked on a journey with his friends across America, filming everything that happened as they traveled. From Aug. 1 to Aug. 9, he traveled west of Illinois in a grand caravan alongside two members of Clark St. Collective and two other friends. They made stops at various locations such as Denver, The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. The trip ended back at home in Chicago on Aug. 9 with a show at Chop Shop, a venue in Wicker Park that he sold out that night.
Robert explained the sole reason behind this trip was to acquire content for the music video for his single “Too Gone” that was set to release on Aug. 23. Two weeks after his show at Chop Shop, he dropped both the song and video, which featured Johlee, a singer-songwriter from El Paso, TX.
Robert didn’t rest after that. On Sept. 6, he released a SoundCloud and YouTube exclusive project titled “Empty Flask & Heartbreak.”
Robert’s musical aesthetic was heavily influenced by 20th century sound. He said he wanted his listeners to relive the experience of living in that time period today. To achieve this, Robert took authentic commercials and songs from that time period and sampled them over instrumentals also from that era. In his song titled “Top of the World,” he raps over the instrumental of Paul Anka’s “Put Your Head On My Shoulder.”
“I’m just so infatuated with anything from the 40s to the 70s. I just absolutely love those time periods,” said Robert.
It truly seems as if Robert has claimed his spot in the rap game. Currently, he has over a quarter of a million streams across all major platforms, with fans across both coasts.
Robert doesn’t forget about his coastal fans when he writes his raps. In a song from his debut album, titled “On the Low” which features fellow Chicago-based artist Ryen, Robert said, “SoHo-SoCal claimed my spot.” The reference is a nod to both the Soho neighborhood in New York City and “SoCal,” which is a reference to southern California.
“My thoughts on Xav are all positive,” said 17-year-old Ally Diolosa, from Long Island, N.Y. She said she considers Robert one of her best friends. “Throughout the years that I’ve known him, we have developed a friendship that I know will last for the rest of our lives. Xav is the most passionate, caring and loving person I have ever met.”
Robert might be considered just a rapper to many of his fans, but he said he wants to do more than perform music.
“Going forward, the next thing in my career is to be an icon. I very much consider myself a creative. I love film and I always wanted to get into acting,” said Robert.
Robert and his team are currently working on an untitled short film. It will feature a new single release to accompany it. It is supposed to be a follow up to the story in his music video “Too Gone.” The short film is set to release in January of 2020.