Xero Ours: It’s what they say that’s important

Culture Music

xeroAl, Clydewell, and Blake are the rappers in Xero Ours, existing as a trio since 2010. The longtime friends make smooth waves in the music world, whether they perform in their hometown of Olympia or somewhere else in the state. They prefer to make their own beats or get the beats from their friends.

Clydewell stated, “We don’t get any beats from people we don’t know.”

Al depicted the beat making process as “trial and error.”

Clydewell elaborated, “Trial and error, yeah. What sounds good, what doesn’t… just stretching out sounds, compressing sounds.”

Blake described the music making process: “You kind of take everything around you, whether it be like a sample, or just interactions that you have. It’s kind of like a collage of life, I would say.”

Al continued, “We don’t really have, like, formulaic. It’s pretty much what someone wants to do… We don’t really put that much into the actual structure, as opposed to the importance, what you’re actually saying. To me, the hip-hop that I like, what’s crucial is what they’re saying. The beat is secondary.”

Clydewell finished, “Definitely the words are foremost.”

Some of those words in their tracks include “Don’t point us out because we’re at odds with the universe.” Another track declares, “Walk a fine line between genius and insane.” A third track that is frequently confused has this verse in its chorus: “Dead last, dead fast.”

Blake asks himself, when creating the words for a Xero Ours track, “Would you say this to your kids?”

Al says his inspiration is simply “Being alive. Needing to hear the words said because nobody else is saying it.”

Al explained that for Xero Ours, “The only thing it has in common with hip-hop in the umbrella terminology is syncopated words to drum bass.”

Xero Ours is different than mainstream hip-hop, as Clyde illustrated. “I think a lot of what’s happening in mainstream hip-hop is part of the colonization tool… because I think it’s one of our most powerful tools of our generation, is our words and our minds. And it’s being diluted in the mainstream.”

Blake summarized how Xero Ours stands apart, “It’s not radio hip-hop… We only say hip-hop because that’s a big influence.”

Al carried on the flow, “We don’t have to put up with any stereotypes because we just don’t have to. The point isn’t really to spread it around and get it huge. It’s just that we do it.”

Another thing that Xero Ours does is interact with the audience by standing in the audience while performing, which I witnessed firsthand at their show at the Midnight Sun in March. ◙


On April 20th, check out Clyde and Blake of Xero Ours at the Track House, at 6pm, for $3.

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