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X.O. is tired of the same ol’ same ol’ in hip-hop: Rappers either pop bottles, party, or brag about their supposed riches. “We’ve already done all that,” the Diamond District MC tells Arts Desk. “Let’s talk about the things going on in the community. There’s so much going on here and we need a voice for that.”
As a result, The Color Grey is arguably X.O.’s most clearheaded mixtape to date, a 12-track set of poignant social commentary, the likes of which aren’t too surprising from the brash Northwest native. On “Just Cuz,” however, X.O. turns up the real talk: “I’ma talk about my life and my city instead, where the cops harass every black nigga with dreads.” On “Rugged,” he chastises mainstream rap and the radio that plays it; “Media Lies” is his dark dissection of the news and its convoluted messages.
The music is equally important to Color Grey. Largely produced by longtime collaborator AB the Pro, these instrumentals crackle with dusty samples and canned drums, bolstering X.O.’s urgency with obscure soul. As it plays, it’s clear that X.O. is growing up. He’s not rapping for the sake of rapping; he’s using his voice to shed a necessary light on everyday injustices.
The Color Grey is available for free. Listen and download below.