Sequels – whether in film or music – very rarely pack the same potent punch as their predecessors. The rare exception to this theory happens when the time between the first installment and the subsequent episodes is filled with so many astounding occurrences that it demands that a new chapter must be added because the story must be told. And producer/artist X:144 has one hell of a grand return to present to the world.
Starting as far back as the late 90s, X:144 spent years turning heads with his clever wordplay and engulfing hip hop production in the underground scene of his home in Orlando, Florida and the world at large, wowing audiences across the country on several national tours supporting M.E., his critically acclaimed 2006 collaborative album with turntablist SPS. In 2007, he became the first-ever Producer Battle Champion at the legendary Scribble Jam. To the casual observer, that’s where the story ends – but a look behind the curtains during the last decade reveals that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.
Translating his precise production/engineering skills into the visual world, X immersed himself in film – directing music videos for an assortment of his hip hop contemporaries, including Ms. Lauryn Hill, The Alchemist, Solillaquists of Sound, Aesop Rock and Dark Time Sunshine, Midaz the Beast, Kap Kallous, and Caskey (Young Money Cash Money Records). In 2011, he seized an opportunity to build a state-of-the-art recording studio in his home country of Egypt but soon found himself caught in the midst of the turmoil of that land’s political revolution; he would go on to capture the harrowing experience of his escape in a short film he created, Export to Egypt. Upon returning to the States, he was tapped by hip hop icon Ms. Lauryn Hill to assist her both in the studio as well as on the road as production consultant and live videographer. And more recently, he has contributed to EA Sports’ audio team, helping to build the immersive and experience-heightening audio for their flagship American Football title, MADDEN NFL. It’s probably a normal reaction to hear this impressive rundown and automatically assume that it’s too good to be true – but that also speaks to the type of rare talent that X:144 possesses as an artist in multiple fields.
As the Renaissance Man of hip hop in the 21st century, X:144’s life’s experiences have created a foundation for an album that can resonate with both those familiar with his work and listeners who are hearing him for the first time. Don’t call it a comeback, because he’s been perfecting his craft for years – and now X:144 is ready to pick up where he left off and continue to push the boundaries of the art form. Whether you’ve been following his progression or are discovering him for the first time, everything he’s done up until this point demonstrates why X:144 is an artist whose story is worth paying attention to.