Anyone interested in the online music scene in New Zealand has likely come across rapper and producer Hxrman’s music through social media or SoundCloud, with a sound that simultaneously combines the bassy rhythms of his contemporaries with a distinct and unique approach that sets the New Plymouth entertainer in his own lane.
Nexus: You built up a huge fan base for someone from a town where, honestly, not a lot goes on. What is it like knowing people from across the country, and even the world, listen to your music?
(Laughs) It’s pretty wild, honestly the world was before the country with that. I released a joint in 2015 called DRUGSTORECADILLAC back when I was still using the name “Oosh Nugs” and it kind of blew up, because of Russians and Americans more than anything; probably because I was rapping over a Ruben Slikk sample. I dropped about 20 mixtapes before New Zealand really started fucking with what I was doing, UPTO GG was the track that got locals onto me more than anything, which wasn’t until 2018.
Nexus: The Hxrman aesthetic has become really defined as your music has developed, with songs like UPTO GG, Russia and Is What It Is standing out so much against the rest of the rappers coming up online. What’s driven it?
I just never really wanted to do what the industry was doing, all the tracks you’ve just mentioned were all completely self produced along with the whole albums they’re from, and I guess when I’m making beats I do my absolute best to make them sound nothing like what’s “hot” at the moment. I never wanted to follow a wave, I always kind of just wanted to create my own one, right from the way the beats are mixed through to the way I deliver my vocals; I never really wanted to just do it “right” and I’ve gotten shit for it from a lot of engineers and producers, who frankly nobody’s heard of still. So I guess doing it my way has paid off a bit (laughs).
Nexus: Some of your lyrics and titles are unapologetically New Zealand, using your own accent unlike a lot of kiwi artists who ham up the ambiguity in their voices. Do you think this helps you be accepted by listeners across the country?
Yeah for sure, my whole life people have asked me where I’m from because my Kiwi accent isn’t a typical one, it’s sort of slurred between Kiwi, Australian, because I spent a couple years there earlier in life and you couldn’t really just speak like a full kiwi there or people don’t understand you, and American because I grew up singing along to American hip hop and eventually talking to mostly Americans online when my music started getting somewhere and they were the first to show love.
Nexus: Doing your own artwork, and working in tattooing, do you think it helps your music to be surrounded by your craft, or does it hinder creativity?
Man, it’s forever a balancing act to be honest. Let’s just say I was a much busier tattooist before I started taking music seriously (laughs). It’s handy having transferable skills like drawing though, not having to rely on others for album art etcetera gave me all the freedom I needed to build my own aesthetic from the ground up rather than trying to describe things to designers and producers based on what other people have done.
Nexus: Hxrman has a new album which dropped February 14th produced by Russian native SCXNDAL, capping off a trilogy alongside previous releases “UPTO” and “Stupid Cunt”, combining together into the, for lack of a better term, iconic phrase “Upto, stupid cunt, can you not?”
He says that the albums follow him on a journey of both personal and musical growth.
“CAN YOU NOT” will be the first time in a long time I’ve done something which isn’t entirely self produced, and after using the second album in the series to express how much of an idiot I am for enabling a lot of my own addictions and short falls, “CAN YOU NOT” is more of an emotional reflection on it. The music is way less aggressive than its predecessors, and sort of like a way for me to accept serenity in not being an island, because no man is, regardless of how long you spend telling yourself you don’t need anybody. I’ve got an amazing team with NNB, with SCXNDAL, and I’m more grateful than ever to be sharing this journey with all the people currently surrounding me.
Listen to Hxrman on SoundCloud and Spotify today, or if you’re in New Plymouth, pick up his latest record at Vinyl Countdown.