To say the new 16-track album from Seattle hip-hop emcee and vocalist Xperience aka XP, Chasing Grace, is a hip-hop record would be an understatement. The Seattle (by way of Olympia) rapper’s third album is a sonic journey into the mind of man who’s soul is at war. It’s a view into the essence of a man who is transforming from an insecure kid burdened with America’s social constructs, into one who questions the world and the religion he was raised in.
On track no. 3 “The Mula,” XP takes his moniker alter-ego, Turtleneck, and is a typical club cat mackin' on girls, extolling the virtues of his own game. Things start to get real by track no. 7 “Yung Nigga,” when XP starts to question the realities of living in America as a black man. On“#Adam” the rapper/singer laments the pain of watching yet another unarmed black man being brutalized by police. On the final track, “Harim Abiff,” XP gets deep, questioning God, a father he hardly knew, and the passing of his mother from breast cancer in 2014.
XP says this album is a biography of his life, being raised by a single mother in a poor part of Detroit. “I went from thinking that hood stuff was cool,” he says, “and thinking that superficial things made me a man.”
Born Olympia, WA, XP was raised by his mother—and the church— in Detroit until moving to Gary, Indiana in 1995. Like many young African Americans, the church was XP’s outlet and he started singing in the choir at the age of 8, and maintains much of his church sound in his music today.
In 2001 XP moved back to Olympia to live with his estranged father. It was there that XP started to put rhymes to beats and consider rapping as a career. In 2004, he opened up for Brother Ali, alongside a young, up-and-coming, white emcee and fellow Olympia-based emcee Ben Haggarty aka Macklemore.
“I was blown away when I saw him do ‘White Privilege,’ recalls XP. “After the show we hung out and just clicked." When Macklemore invited XP to collaborate on music, it was the beginning of what would become his long, close friendship. XP was featured on “Hold Your Head Up,” “As Soon As I Wake Up,” and “Good For You” on Macklemore's 2005 The Language of My World and was promptly enlisted to join Macklemore's first world wide tour.
Meanwhile, at that time XP also met other notable Seattle hip-hop artists like Sleep, Onry Ozzborn, JFK, Smoke, and Candidt. By 2006, he was the last member to be inducted into the famed Northwest collective,Oldominion— and became firmly planted in the Seattle hip-hop landscape. He has released numerous projects of his own, including the 2012 The Mixtape The Durden Papers "Vol 1" and the 2013 EP, The Revelations.
XP admits that being Macklemore’s homie has its benefits and drawbacks and on the lead single “Not Today,” XP tackles this subject matter directly. “There are a lot of haters out there,” explains XP. “But I’m forever grateful for all the opportunity he’s given me and I highly respect his talents. It’s just people expect that I have it easy or I didn’t work to get where I am."
Production on Chasing Grace is shared by Ryan Lewis, BeanOne, SmokeM2D6, and Djay Cas.