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YXNG K.A’s story is proof of the power in relentless drive and unstoppable talent. Growing up in a North Philadelphia public-housing project, the 17-year-old artist started rapping in early 2019 and discovered a prodigy-like ability that soon won him massive praise in his city and beyond. Along with earning recognition from heavyweights like Meek Mill, YXNG K.A’s breakthrough single “Forever Committed” landed him a deal with Interscope Records just months after he’d created his first song. With his fearlessly honest approach to East Coast rap, the high-school senior is now set to show his tremendous range and melodic skills on his major-label debut.
As YXNG K.A reveals, his foray into music happened almost by accident. “I made a bet with my friend that I could make a song, and then everybody started telling me the song was hot, so I posted it on Instagram,” he recalls. “It took off right away and I started to take it more serious, even though it was never really my intention to be a musician or an artist. It was like I flipped a switch and everything just happened out of nowhere.”
Raised in the Abbottsford Homes family development, YXNG K.A previously devoted most of his time to playing basketball and football, with dreams of becoming a professional athlete. “Coming up in the projects, you grow up different and you learn fast,” he says. “There’s always violence and drugs, and if you don’t adapt you’re gonna be lost.”
Once he started making music, YXNG K.A fully dedicated himself to the craft, often using writing as an emotional outlet. “I wouldn’t do anything after school, I’d just go home and make sure I wrote a couple of songs every day,” he says. “Everything that was happening with me, everything that I was feeling at the time, I put it right into the songs. I don’t usually talk a lot or vent to people, so if I’m going through something I’ll just make a song about it.”
Accompanied by a series of stunning visuals from director Andre DrizzyDreads Fisher, YXNG K.A’s early output gives an up-close look at his everyday life and struggles. On “Forever Committed,” he brings his detailed storytelling to a hazy but hard-hitting beat, equally showcasing his soulful singing and powerful flow. “That song’s me talking about my family and me being committed to this music thing—just trying to get us out of our situation,” YXNG K.A explains.
After signing with Interscope Records in May 2019, YXNG K.A immediately got to work on his debut project. Recorded in Los Angeles and Miami and made with producers like Slade da Monsta (Lil Uzi Vert), the album sets his personal and thought-provoking lyrics to a dynamic and deeply infectious sound—an element partly inspired by the R&B, soul, and classic hip-hop he heard as a child. “I grew up listening to my mom’s era of music and then some older stuff like The Temptations, which always interested me,” he says. “I think that older music influences what I’m doing, but I’m bringing it into a whole new era. I feel like as time goes on and I keep making music, I’m finding myself and finding my sound and making it as diverse as I can. I don’t ever want to want to do things just one way.”
With his debut due out in 2020, YXNG K.A is currently focused on balancing music with completing high school. “Most of my family didn’t finish high school but I know I gotta finish—I gotta do that for my mom,” he says. “Sometimes it’s hard juggling everything, but I want a better life for me and my family. ‘Cause I know where I came from, but I know where I’m headed too. And once I started doing music, there’s nothing that’s gonna stop me from getting there.”