Xiuhtezcatl – Tiahuliz // Light
(Boulder, CO) – Xiuhtezcatl (pronounced Shoe-Tez-Caht), young and progressive hip-hop artist, made it into the public eye as an activist speaking out on critical issues including climate change and Indigenous rights. He also performed and supported the Standing Rock movement. When he first started to write bars, he initially meant them to be a creative outlet for his activism. Xiuhtezcatl recalls “I saw this album serving as a call to action for the world. Calling my generation to overcome the limitations and boundaries our broken world has placed on us. Calling on our communities to break free from the oppression and injustice that we face.” But as the album and tracks progressed the artistic process took hold, and became less about his work as an activist, and more of a reflection of Xiuhtezcatl’s growth and self-discovery as a young man and an artist. Xiuhtezcatl is due to release his powerful debut album, Break Free, on October 5th.
Xiuhtezcatl is a talented, motivative young man. For the last 11 years he has been in the public eye and known for his activism, movement building, work with Earth Defenders, and youth empowerment. He has impressively addressed the UNGA, given TED Talks, been interviewed by Bill Maher and made an appearance on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah — all by the age of 17. Currently, he is one of the faces of Shepard Fairey’s + Amplifier for #WeTheFuture campaign, and suing the U.S. government for violating our constitutional rights by perpetuating the climate crisis in the trial of the century – Juliana vs. the United States. And, yeah, he wrote a book We Rise. But the music was always there, and he was always writing.
For Xiuhtezcatl, “A lot of the songs that ended up on the record, I’d began writing as early as 2014. Drafting beats in my basement on Ableton and using my keyboard to write melodies and lay down beats.” He wrote with his sister, Isa, who contributed to writing vocals. “She’s kind of like my writing mentor, helping me develop many of the tracks conceptually and even offering her vocals on more than half the album. Since we’re siblings, our vibe together is very playful and freeing. It’s really funny when we both hit walls with writing cuz we just end up laughing and fucking around until we hit a break through. This project wouldn’t be the same without her.“
Break Free started in Xiuhtezcatl’s home recording studio in Boulder, CO, but really took form at his friend’s tiny one-bedroom apartment turned recording studio in Culver City, CA in 2017. Bouncing between LA and Boulder, the album came together in over a span of a year. The multi-platinum producer Brian Hardin (India Arie, Quincy Jones, Steve Winwood, The Sex Pistols, Guns N’ Roses, Sublime), co-produced, mixed and mastered the album in the tiny apartment. Xiuhtezcatl recalls, “the production of the album was an absolutely critical piece of the vibe it carries. It wasn’t 11 random beats that I picked from a folder of beats from some dope producers. Every beat on the album was created for the song from nothing. Many of them came from skeletons I’d made and brought to the group of hella talented producers.” Co-producers include Brian Hardin, Richard Vagner, and Xi-Tika.
The 11-track album, Break Free, puts Xiuhtezcatl in the forefront of conscious hip-hop through his revolutionary call to actions and writing styles. On the new album Xiuhtezcatl spits about his life, influences, and has successfully reclaimed his narrative as his own. It is vibrant, sonically alive, and stacked with standouts. The forthcoming album features his friends who’ve influenced him to find his voice, like on the track “Young,” featuring activist and musician, Nahko Bear and, actress, Shailene Woodley. Xiuhtezcatl recalls, “Nahko and I have now done two tours together and have been sharing the stage since we met in 2012. He’s like a big bro to me. Shailene and I met through Nahko. She’s a real homie. Always down to support whatever cause we’re working on, and her voice was the perfect contribution to that track.” “Sage Up” highlights Xiuhtezcatl’s revolutionary writing style that is, in large part, influenced by the hip-hop duo, Dead Prez. Xiuhtezcatl remembers, “we were tripping on how sick the beat, and my bro Matene’s parts were. My other homie Ietef had the first verse and knew Stic from Dead Prez personally, so we sent Stic the beat and he vibed with it right away. Getting his verse on the track felt so legendary.”
“Limits” came together while hanging out at Nahko Bear’s house in Santa Monica. Xiuhtezcatl comments, “My producers and I were working on finessing the hook and production. My guy Jaiia started stripping back the instrumental and adding super fat trappy drums and 808’s that sounded hella tight. In my mind I heard a Migos “Stir Fry” type whistle and in 30 seconds we recorded a simple whistle melody, chopped it up and placed it throughout the track. It was the missing piece.”
Xiuhtezcatl reflects on the new album, “I captured the process of breaking free and how finding my way has helped me understand how to call the rest of the world to do the same.”
Xiuhtezcatl will be touring in support of the new album. He is kicking off the “Break Free” tour this Fall and will be supporting SOJA, Collie Buddz and Twiddle. His live shows are high energy and leaves audiences turned up, hyped, and wondering how an opening act whose name that they can’t pronounces left them asking for more! He will be touring with his band and audiences can expect to see live drums, strings, synth bass and Isa, his sister, on vocals. Xiuhtezcatl will be performing fan favorites alongside new tracks. Check out the tour dates listed below or track them here.
Oct-20: Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works
Oct-21: St Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall
Oct-23: Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
Oct-27: Denver, CO @ 1st Bank Center
Oct-30: Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
Nov-2: Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO
Nov-3: Eugene, OR @ McDonald Theater
Nov-4: Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
Nov-8: Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
Nov-9: Los Angeles, CA @ The NOVO
Nov-10: Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
Nov-11: San Diego, CA @ The Observatory North Park
Nov-13: Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren
Nov-15: Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
Nov-17: Austin, TX @ Stubbs Amphitheater
Nov-18: New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues