A conversation with the aspiring 20-year-old hip-hop star about the transition from the unknown to working with Future.
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4 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
Xavier Barrios – now better known as Project X – grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire and has always had a passion for music. He dreamed of producing for some of the biggest hip hop names, especially those affiliated with the Atlanta-based production collective 808 Mafia. And despite problems with the juvenile justice system and being housed in a group home with no access to computers, Barrio's earliest passion never waned. When he was 15, he bought a copy of the popular FL Studio production software and studied the manual so he would be ready when his moment came.
Three years and countless hours later, his 808 Mafia heroes took him under their wing and were quick to sign him after seeing the impression he made on some of the greatest hip-hop stars. All of that hard work and determination paid off when he scored a significant production placement on the hugely popular Atlanta MC Future.
Barrios is 20 years old and is based in LA. He has worked with Zoey Dollaz, Sonny Digital, 24hs and Southside and is widely regarded as one of the most sought-after protégés of the 808 Mafia. His work on heroin Young's "Gucci Bucket Hat" has helped the track garner nearly three million streams on Spotify since it was released on October 20.
We caught up with the young man in question for a brief introduction on how to get to exactly where he wants to be and how to educate others along the way.
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What does it mean to get a production placement?
To achieve a placement, an artist decided to use a beat, melody, or lyrics that you, as a producer, songwriter, or artist, created when releasing a new song. However, not every placement is approved. For example, an artist might use a beat, but the song never comes out. Some producers are confused when an artist uses their beat and it never comes out, but they still consider it a placement. For me, that's when it gets published.
How does a relatively unknown producer get the chance to work with great artists?
The quickest way I've seen personally is to work on loops / melodies and send them off to bigger producers. It's almost like a cheat code. You see kids get huge placements from their bedrooms by sending bows. It's crazy. I'm more of a drummer. I love hearing what other people can find in terms of melodies.
What should aspiring producers watch out for who might be naive in the music business?
Never take anything personally! People will reject you first. Nobody wants to lock themselves in with you until you are hot. Everyone has their own goals to achieve and focus on their own career. Be careful whoever you leave around, as there will be quite a number of people trying to be "buddy-buddy" just to get close to whoever you are connected to for their own benefit . Not everyone is your friend when it comes to music. Just keep working and do what you do best. Keep your head down until you come up. Hard work never goes unnoticed.
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What's next for you
I planned to put something super big together. Like a compilation project with a few songs that I did with other artists – all produced by me. I want to bring it all out myself. There is so much unreleased music out there that I have no idea if it will ever come out, so I want to put all of my best stuff together and let the world hear it. My team and I are also working on putting together an immersive music-based experience under the Project X brand. I am always looking for talented young producers to take under my wing.