HXLT- Nigel Holt: On Taking Risks And Getting Into The Flow
If there were no limitations or restrictions placed on you, what would you do in your life? Would you take a risk in the music world, or would you stay comfortable where you are? How would you get yourself into the flow? Join in the conversation as artist HXLT shares with Karen Pulver and Goddesses about his ever-flowing career as a musician.
In this episode, you’ll discover the ups and downs of the music world and how HXLT has managed to “keep swimming” forward. Friendships are essential to carry you through and support you in good times and bad. Tune in!
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HXLT- Nigel Holt: On Taking Risks And Getting Into The Flow
Flow, Passion, Resilience, Music, Energy, Friendships, Support
Chicago-born and raised, and based artist, Nigel Holt, originally Hollywood Holt, now HXLT, kicked off his career as a party rapper hip to Chicago’s bounce music scene. As Hollywood Holt, he became an established name within the Chicago rap scene amongst childhood friends like Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, Virgil Abloh, and his cousin Mano who, for a while, was Kanye West’s DJ. Nigel Holt evolved into HXLT, an act that was first dubbed a hipster rapper before he became the first post-punk vocalist signed to Kanye West’s label GOOD Music.
Originally known as Hollywood Holt when he performed party rap over bounce music, he began to focus on his love of Bad Brains, The Clash and post-punk. He became the stranger, less b-boy Holt. That name changed to HXLT in 2015 when he posted a series of tracks to the web. HXLT’s swift change in direction might seem abrupt but he’s a man of many talents exemplified through his past work as a professional breakdancer.
Also, achievements producing Beyoncé and André’s 3000 covers of Amy Winehouse is Back to Black for The Great Gatsby soundtrack. It was this cover, not his rapping, that caught West’s attention in 2013 and eventually led to Holt signing with GOOD Music. He lives in Chicago with his wife Jacqui and son Lennox who is like a mini-me to HXLT, learning guitar and blasting out tunes. HXLT continues to be in the flow with his creativity and music.
I want to know something. Do you feel like you are in your flow? Are you doing what you are supposed to be doing? Are you doing what you are passionate about? Have you tried several things and maybe you felt discouraged but you have pushed yourself to go forward to do what you love? Our guest, Nigel Holt, otherwise known as HXLT has done that. He is in the flow so welcome, Nigel. Should I call you Nigel or HXLT? What do you want to be called?
You can call me whatever you would like because we are friends but my artist name is HXLT.
HXLT, AKA Nigel, how did we meet?Everyone can do anything if they try. Click To Tweet
This is fun. I will tell you this hilarious story. We met because I worked for a Bar Mitzvah company and I was a host. You guys were interviewing me to host your son’s Bar Mitzvah. It was funny because also at the time, I was throwing all these major parties in Chicago at this club called Buddha Lounge. We were booking people like MIA before she was big and acts that are big now and classic big acts.
My day job was being a host at Bar Mitzvahs and we met and your crazy husband and I’ve got into a full-blown music debate about great bands, which was amazing. He was such a cool guy and you were all fashioned out and fresh. You didn’t see that often at a job. You saw normal parents. You guys are coming in looking all fresh and talking about cool music. I was like, “These guys are cool.” We ended up chatting a bunch, which was nothing. After that, I was like, “Those guys were cool.”
Later that night, we booked Peaches, the artist at Buddha Lounge. I go to the party where we book Peaches, who is well known for having a provocative live show. It’s definitely not safe for work. We are at the party and all these kids are there. It’s this cool scene and in the VIP section, it was you and your husband. I was like, “What are you all doing here? I was just talking to you.”
We are Bar Mitzvah parents. What the heck?
I was like, “You dogs. This is the last place you want to see me at.” It turns out that you are best friends with Peaches and whatnot. To me, it solidified that you all were crazy and I needed to be friends with you. I’m like, “You maneuver like normal stand-up citizen adult people with kids but you are into everything that’s cool.” I love that. This was fresh so we became friends from that day forward.
We became friends and you did such a fantastic job breakdancing at my son’s Bar Mitzvah, spinning on your head. Subsequently, my daughters. You came to our other daughter’s as a guest.
I went from working for you to being invited.
You are our friend and we love our friendship. I would like to invite our Featured Goddesses on. They don’t know that story. There’s Camille.
I love that story.
We have the most unorthodox relationship ever because this was before I had any type of fame or success in the music business whatsoever. They would come to my shows and people would be looking at them like, “Who is that?” I’m like, “They are my friends.” I will talk about them and I’m like, “My friends are coming through,” and it’s this older white couple. They are like, “I didn’t expect that.” As soon as you talk to them, you are like, “I see why. They are fresh.” Some people understand life and they do. Your husband is nuts.
We know that about him. You have to get to know a person. It’s not about what they do. You have to get to know your soul and I felt that.
The generalized idea of, “You can’t be friends with them. They are not in your age range. They are not in the style of life you are in or whatever.” That doesn’t matter. It’s based on personality and if your personality is clear.
Although when we went out to dinner once, you said, “Your look now, we’ve got to change it up. You need to change this and do that.” You don’t remember? It was good because you’ve got me thinking because that’s what I want to ask you. You are into style. You love clothes and shoes.
I’m wearing a basic T-shirt.
Your jewels and your teeth.
I have my teeth in.
You have some grills. You have a lot of passions. Can you tell us about them all?
I have too many. I don’t know which ones to tell you.
You like fashion.Stop telling your kids they can't do things and let them try it. Don't talk them out of taking a risk. Click To Tweet
I’m huge on fashion. I helped start streetwear. I make music for a living. I’m one of those people if I see somebody else do it, that means I can do it. If a human person can do something physical, mental, anything, if I see that it was possible by a human being, that means I can do it. I have to try it. I have tried and done anything that I have ever liked. I didn’t have the capabilities when I was younger so once I discovered the fact that I could try anything,
I tried everything. In that space, a lot of people will be like, “Don’t try to do everything. Be the best at one thing.” I don’t believe in that but definitely do the thing that you like to do the most. I was doing a million things. I wouldn’t perform at a show. I threw the party. I set the venue up. I will perform at my own parties because I was good at doing all of these things. It’s easy to become good at something if you practice it a lot.
I was one of those people that people were like, “You think you can do everything.” I can do everything but not because I’m better or have some super talent. I practiced and tried everything but then it got to a point where I was like, “What are you going to do, though?” I was like, “What are a couple of things that I love to do that never get tired of?” If I had $1 billion and didn’t have to do anything, what would I be doing? I would still be designing clothes.
I will get a bottle of wine, put the music on and sit in my sketchbook. I enjoy designing. It’s fun to do and making music. Those are the two things that I do the most. I do anything. It’s not that I do everything. I try to make sure everything gets done. I will be like, “I need to make a giant sign for this drop. Can you do it?” “No. It’s not going to be ready for a month.” I will do it. I have to get it done. That’s all I care about.
Did you do the decor for your own wedding?
Yes, I did.
By the way, that was beautiful. Camille has some questions for you.
I love hearing about all of this because I come from an artistic family and a lot of times, they do make you want to stick to one thing but sometimes when you are creative, you are not good at one thing. When you realize, the way that you discovered what were the two passions for you to stay the most focused with, those whatever you felt got you jumping in your jeans in the morning type of thing.
At the same time, outsiders sometimes will try to make you pigeonhole into certain things. I know that Karen was telling us that you had worked with Amy Winehouse, as well as with some other rappers and you mentioned MIA. In an industry that promotes certain things, I know you have experienced some loss as well with drugs and violence. How do you skate around it?
Pardon my friends but I say, “Fuck all that shit.” What I mean is not in terms of these people or anything but I have always been too self-aware if that makes sense. When I was a kid in grade school and we were learning about Christopher Columbus, I’m like, “We are not going to use this in life. Why do we have to learn this? This is trash. I can’t wait to never come here again.” I used to think, “I can’t wait until I’m grown and I’ve never got to go to school again. I hate this place.” It was because I didn’t go to a school that was catered to me.
I didn’t know that art high schools even existed until I was 30. I was furious. I didn’t have those scenarios so I have always been in this space where you have to understand that when somebody tells you something if it’s not based on their profession, it’s usually an educated guess or an opinion. If most people give you an opinion, they are trying to help you but it’s not necessarily always helpful. They are trying to make sure you are okay so if they don’t believe that you are good enough, they will tell you, “Maybe you should be a hostess or something.”
They want you to do the same thing because they want you to succeed. In a business like this, you have to gangster your way in anything and everything that you want. The more knowledge that you have on the things that you love to do in the industry, the easier it is. I wasn’t like, “I’m going to try to work diversely with artists.” This is what I play. I don’t rap, I sing. I do all of these different elements of music where I can shed light and people who like my style of how I do it.
The Amy Winehouse thing wasn’t like, “I called Amy Winehouse because we were homies.” I redid her song because I love the song and I felt it needed some gangster drums on it and it took off. In working with other rappers and whatnot, I can walk into a room because I have tried everything. I understand everything. That’s what it is. You can put me in a room with any artist and I can watch and listen to your style and know where the pockets are that need a little something in it. I can validate or make it more real than it is if that makes sense. Don’t listen to anybody.
Dena here has had some Bat Mitzvahs. Who did you use here, Dena?
I had two Bat Mitzvahs and one Bar Mitzvah. I used FLOW Entertainment for two of them.
Why didn’t you use Energy Productions?
We interviewed them and my girls fell in love with China so we made a pact. We use the A to Z may be, for my son.
You missed out because Nigel would have spun on his head for you.
For some of the audience members who may not understand the significance of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, can you explain a little more about it? What is the whole thing about hiring hosts, DJs?
I wasn’t just a breakdancer, Karen. I wasn’t like, “Let me breakdance and spin on my head.”
It was amazing that you did that. Explain that, Nigel. Tell us about being a host at a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
I’m black so I did not necessarily understand all the nuances of Bat Mitzvah.
Yes, you do. You know the prayers. Go ahead.
I do know the prayers but from the religious aspect, this is based on Judaism so I’m not the one you would want to talk to and ask about this. I knew what time the dinner was. I was good at my job. Whatever I was doing, I wanted to make sure I was the most informed about it. I was like, “This is an important time in the child’s life where they become a man and this is something sacred that has been celebrated for hundreds of years.” I’m not going to be like, “Dinner’s ready.” When it’s fun, it’s fun.
Being a host is about showcasing or rallying the energy. Everything is based on how I direct them. In the room, if it’s party time, I’m like, “Hands in the air.” When it’s time for the prayer, my voice calms down. The energy changes in the room. It’s like, “It’s time to set this tone for this beautiful moment so it’s not ruined in any capacity.” I was like, “What can I do to make sure that this is right?” I learned the prayers. I learned about what I was doing so I knew how to take care of it.
Dena, what’s your question for Nigel?
We’ve got the privilege when you were in the car with us, I saw lots of tattoos. Can you show us and talk to us a little bit? Tell us the story or stories of the ink?
Maybe your favorite.
There are no kids on this show, right?
No. You can talk. It’s explicit.
I like cussing. I like it as an ideology or genre. I don’t like cussing because of the way it makes you feel. I think it’s the best way to describe some emotion.
There are certain times where it needs that word.
You can’t say, “Forget you.” It doesn’t work. When I first started getting tattooed, I thought I wanted a sleeve. I wanted an arm of tattoos. I’ve got one. This will sound unpopular to say but it wasn’t that serious. I used to work at a tattoo shop. At the tattoo shop where I’ve got my first tattoo, I started hanging out with the guys. A bunch of them became a friend so all my friends were tattoo artists.
One of them ended up owning a shop so I’ve got a job working there. It’s like, “My 5:00 didn’t show up. Do you want to tattoo?” I was like, “Sure.” I was jacking any tattoos that I can get. I picked what I wanted but they would offer it up or whatever and of course, I paid for some and whatnot. When I became famous, then it was like, “Do you want tattoos?” I was like, “Yes, I do.”Lean on your friendships. Click To Tweet
You have a friendship. What does that represent?
That represents everything in my life. I do have some basic tattoos. Chicago is one of my first ones because I’m proud to be from the city. I don’t want to put this in the wrong way. I wasn’t negative but I definitely would seek out. We were at a bar and somebody was picking on a guy, I would be like, “Fight me, motherfucker. I’m the one. Don’t pick on him. He can’t do anything. Do that to me.” I was about that energy.
I was always ready to rock. I was always getting arrested and fighting all the time. I love guns. What are we going to do? They are like, “This dude is crazy.” I developed this tough guy reputation and it was whack. It got to the point where I would be out and some dude would be like, “I’ve got my drink. I want to drink it. Leave me alone. I don’t even feel like fighting now.”
You were working a long shift. You are like, “I’m going to beat this dude up.” We are like, “Somebody come at me and my boy.” I was the guy that you would call. They would be like, “I’m going to call my boy to come over here and fuck this up.” That was me so I would show up and fuck everything up. Sometimes I was hungover or something and I didn’t want to fight or whatever.
The point is, I started to notice that the energy that I was exuding is all I was attracted to because I was always the tough guy, it ended up that’s all the energy and all the people that were around me. I was like, “I need to switch this shit up.” I started leaning on my friendship and on the good parts of why I would beat motherfuckers up. I wouldn’t be like, “It’s because I love my friends. I’m going to kick it with them.”
I started squashing bees, saying friendship all the time. Karen, I have been saying friendship for many years. Ever since I started that, it has changed my whole life. I’m always trying to be positive, bring positive energy to me and that’s what I get. My life is great now. I’m successful. I own a house. I have a beautiful child and a wife. My friends are good. Nobody I know is in jail. We are chilling. I feel it’s whatever energy you put out into the world is that you get back. I started putting out friendship and now own a brand called Friendship CLB.
Where’s the picture of my husband? I’m kidding. Where’s the tattoo of my husband?
Is it bacon face? I don’t know.
We’ve got to get into your career. You started as a rapper.
Yes, I did start. I forget how long you have known me.
You wrote a song for my 40th birthday.
“Keep starting on them, G,” and she’s like, “You wrote a song.”
I’m in memory lane. Do you remember that?
This was before I was any type of famous. We helped your husband write a rap song for your birthday.
You were a rapper but then you transitioned to more punk.
Yes and no because you know me. I have always been punk but the music I was making wasn’t punk because I’m from the Southside of Chicago. People try to put you in, “We don’t do that over here. We are from this space. Maybe you should be like this.” I was listening to The Clash, Bad Brains and the Ramones since I was fourteen years old but nobody in my neighborhood was listening to that. I liked it and my father was this eclectic genius who can play every instrument. I was listening to what was on the radio like Tupac, Ice Cube and normal hood shit.
Inside the house, my dad was playing Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. Those were his bands and my mom is black. She’s listening to all the great oldies and whatnot. I had this different style of music growing up all the time. I never once thought, “I would listen to one thing and only be one thing.” When I started making music, one thing I hid was the fact that I was listening to punk rock this whole time because I didn’t understand that there was a culture behind it. I thought it was music like metal or whatever. I was like, “This punk shit is the only thing that matches my brain and my energy. I never heard music that sounded like my brain.”
I liked it because of what it was, the music. As an adult, you learn that there’s a whole culture and world behind it that I should have been in the whole fucking time. When I was coming up, when I started making music, my cousin made beats. My other homies rapped and I was good at rapping. To me, it was a simple thing to mathematically put words together in rhythm and rhyming wasn’t shit for me.
I could do that shit all day. I was like, “I’m going to rap.” I saw dudes rapping about being gangsters and all this who weren’t doing any of that shit. I’m like, “I’m doing it. I’m legit. I can definitely rap about this.” I became a rapper but accidentally, even when I was rapping, my punk energy was all over my shoulder.
I was one of the first people to crowd surf as a rapper. Nobody was doing that before me but I didn’t even put 2 and 2 together. I would watch punk shows and be like, “I’m going to do that shit.” I want to jump in the crowd. I want to go fucking crazy. I would have these rap songs but the show was psycho. Once I’ve got comfortable and I started traveling, I went to Japan and going all over the world. I started to see, “I don’t have to be this one thing. I can do whatever I want,” and I started doing whatever I want. One of the first beats I ever made was the Amy Winehouse one.
Tell us about Kanye. How did that happen?
I have known Kanye forever being around because he’s from Chicago and whatnot. I was in Atlanta for his album listening party and I realized that I have been to every single album listening party he’s ever had from his first album. When you are from Chicago and you are in music, you are going to cross paths, especially when he was a smaller artist at the time. He was bigger than us. We built our own scene.
I didn’t get signed with Kanye until way later but I knew him before I was even rapping. When I’ve got my first deal as a rapper, it wasn’t through them or anything but I built my own thing. They saw me working, doing my thing and I’ve got stuck in a bad record deal for five years. It was whack. It fucked my whole life up and I transitioned into making the music that I wanted to make.
I was rapping but then I would have the whole beat and all the music in my head. I’m listening to the song in my head but I’m not executing it because I’m like, “I don’t know how to use logic or whatever program so I’m not a producer.” I was a composer and I had the idea. I didn’t know how to physically do it. I didn’t know that all these motherfuckers were hiring guitar players. I was pissed.
I didn’t know so once I figured it out I was like, “Fuck that. I’m going to make the music that I want to make.” I started making shit and Amy Winehouse covers. I was like, “It needs more guitar and I’m going to put some gangster drums on it so I’m going to do a cover of it.” I covered, sang it and I made this dope beat and whatnot.
Randomly, I saw Kanye in New York and he invited me to the studio. Long story short, he played me Watch the Throne. I played him the songs I was working on. When he heard the Amy Winehouse song, he was like, “What the fuck?” He totally thought it was the shit and I was super hyped because it was Kanye. He also validated it. I was like, “I’m not tripping. This is dope. It’s not just me.” He loved it.
Long story short, he bought it from me and they started working on it and put it in The Great Gatsby movie. It was a cover so they wanted to have somebody else covering it. It didn’t matter to me because I didn’t own the song anyway. The funny thing is Amy Winehouse was alive during all of this because I had met her. The reason why I covered one of her songs is that I met her and she was playing at a festival.
I get it mixed up because festivals are all one memory in my brain. It’s 12 festivals in 1 in my head but it was either the year before or after I played, or the year I did play. Her trailer was by my trailer and she was outside hanging out. She was mad. She was out of there. She was super skinny and you could tell it was up in the game but she was such a cool motherfucker. I was like, “You are cool as hell.” After that, because she was so cool and I was already a fan, it spiked in my head.
Once I met her, I knew that she would like it. I was like, “I’m going to do it. I’m going to cover this shit.” It was not in any capacity to send to her. I was going to do it so I did it. I did and I never got to put it out because Kanye heard it before I even released it. He bought it. He put it in The Great Gatsby Movie. He got André 3000 and Beyoncé on it. Jay Z put it on the soundtrack of The Great Gatsby movie. Your boy is a producer. It was nuts.
Camille, do you have a question?
I was thinking when you come about coming up with songs, you were sharing how you go about composing but, in a way, I’m curious about how songs come to you? What is your process as far as making new songs or designing clothes? How does that first process start for you?
I’m a firm believer in everybody being able to do everything if they try. Some things are unexplainable. I will be walking down the street and I will start whistling something. It will come out of my mouth without any thought and I’m like, “That’s dope. I will run through the house and I will try to put it on keys or whatever.” I will see a color, a movie or the way I hear a conversation and it will spark.
Sometimes I think of a piece of content to write about. Sometimes I hear a melody. I do weird shit like this. I will look at that painting behind you and go, “What would that sound like as a song?” The first thing I think of is low strings and I will start playing those strings looking at the painting. I will go, “I don’t sound like that.” I’m crazy but that’s how I go about things. I’m like, “How do I turn this shirt into a feeling or an opinion?”The energy you exude is what you will attract. Click To Tweet
I will make a shirt out of an aggressive feeling. I will be like, “I’m angry. I want to design some shit.” I will design a red vest with back pockets in it and a whole mass shit in it because it reflects, “What is the guy who’s going to fight look like? I’m going to make that jacket.” It comes from all over the place. There’s no one process. A lot of artists that start like me, let the energy flow through them how it’s supposed to.
When you get in the industry, the longer you start working and you develop processes. That’s why a lot of these bands who you love back in the day that you knew sound generic because now they’ve got this producer and this guy from Sweden who worked on this guy’s song before. He’s a legend. It all ends up sounding the same shit. I let it free flow. I made five songs in one day one time. Sometimes it will take me two months. You’ve got to let it ride.
Camille has her own podcast called The E-Spot and she interviews entertainers. She may reach out to you after this.
Let me know.
Dena, do you have a question for Nigel?
My question is what currently are you listening to or loving?
I’m listening to a lot of stuff. I don’t get tired of music. I’m the guy that can play the song 40 times in a row and you will be like, “Please stop playing.” That’s me. It’s always a mixture of love and I’m always trying to discover some shit. New artists and this new kid I found because he represents punk energy. It’s not necessarily about the music. It sounds weird to say that but he reflects his energy and his personality well through music but it’s a lot more than that. He’s a Basquiat. His name is Teezo Touchdown. He’s got long braids and real nails all through his braids.
He makes pop-punk and post-punk music. It’s dope stuff. He was on Tyler, The Creator’s new album, which is fire. I’m big on genre-bending music. When I was coming up I loved Santigold. She’s fire. MIA was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, one of my favorite bands of all time. Anything that has no specific rule to what it is. It could have hard guitars in it. It could have 808 drums in it.
Anything that’s a bop where you can bob your head and it sounds good. I like Tyler, The Creator. I love his new album but his last album, The Igor it’s a composition of amazing music. It’s not even a genre base. He got the Best Rapper award, which wasn’t rapped shit but it was amazing. I’m trying to think who I’m listening to currently, that’s dope, Teezo Touchdown. There’s this new Russian New Wave music scene happening.
There’s a huge Australian punk scene that is fire. There’s this band called Amyl and The Sniffers. It sounds some classic hard as punk rock. It sounds like some Black Flag, but the singer is a female and her voice is insane. No one is touching this girl. She’s full of raw energy. It’s the best shit that I have discovered. The other thing is, it’s hard for me to say this though because I’m friends with a lot of these bands. It’s like, “I’m a fan of them but they are also my homies.” I have been listening to Turnstile, but those are my guys. They put out a new album, which is fucking fire as hell, too.
What do you mean? I’ve got the greatest.
You remember when we were trying to pick our music, I was this specific. Nothing against Motown. I didn’t want the same kind.
If I heard My Girl one more time, that’s the Bar Mitzvah shit, though. They play all of the same songs. They sprinkle a couple of new ones but it was the, “Fill me up, buttercup.” I was like, “Goddamn. Switch it up.”
I have to ask you here. I don’t mean to turn the emotion here but I know you went through a dry spell. You went through a rough time at one point. During that time, you met your wife and you had your son.
I was lit when I met Jacqui. It was right after that.
My timing is wrong. The point is, many of us, all the readers, go through shit. There’s always something but the whole point is picking yourself up again. That’s the hardest part so tell us about that.
I have always been naturally angry. I was fighting this shit. I have always been a scrappy dude. I was never afraid of that shit. I needed to change my energy but I didn’t believe that anger was something negative if that makes sense. It’s how you use it. I am an angry motherfucker but I turn the anger into art. I use anger to validate some shit. It’s like, “That shit is not real. That is fake.” If you make some music that’s not on your heart, I’m going to call that out and it comes from my anger space but not negatively. I signed for and got stuck in a deal for five years. I couldn’t put out any music. Do you know who Kid Cudi is?
I didn’t know about the five years.
Kid Cudi and I started at the same time. We had a co-headline tour, it was me and him. We both signed deals but he signed to GOOD Music and I signed to this other label. He went off and I was stuck for five years in this. Where I was supposed to be, I didn’t get until way later because I was stuck and I was mad as fuck. Even then, I was always making it happen, hustling and whatnot. You go through these sad moments where you see the guys in your space or guys who started after you headlining tours and you are like, “Motherfucker.”
Kanye bought me out of that deal and then I signed to GOOD Music. I met my wife and I was popping. I was doing all these shows and it was super dope. She got pregnant and I had my son. It was great. She was good. I moved to LA and I realized the scenario that I was in wasn’t necessarily, “They sold me on.” The support that I was supposed to have, I didn’t have. I had the money that I was supposed to get but I didn’t get the team that I was supposed to have. I thought I was going to be in this deal and shit was going to happen and it was like, “Nope. The same bullshit.”
Thinking that you were past that point from coming out of five years of no music, I took matters into my own hands. I was like, “Fuck this. I don’t care. I’m going to start making an album.” I started making shit and whatnot. I made an album and I played it for some of the people that I needed to play it for and they were like, “This doesn’t sound dope.”
I never knew what depression was. I told somebody and I’m like, “I’m not sad but I want to lay on the floor and never get up. I don’t want to die but I feel like I’m at the bottom of a pool, I want to stay there, not breathe and not do anything just be there.” My guy was like, “That’s depression.” I was like, “That is a fucking depression.” I was mad depressed because it was whack.
My whole life, I saw myself working ten times harder than the next person. I’m like, “It’s going to pay off.” When you get to the moment where you think it pays off, behind the door is some more bullshit and then you’ve got to keep swimming and then you want to stop swimming. You want to be like, “What the fuck do I have to do?” I was mad depressed because I thought the music was dope and these motherfuckers tell me it wasn’t dope. I will lay at the bottom of the pool and then I’ve got angry.
I was like, “Fuck these niggas. I’m about to snap. Fuck everybody. No, fuck that. Get your ass up out of the water. Let’s get back to work. If they don’t like it, kiss my ass. I’m going to put the shit out anyway.” If everyone hates it, I’m going to tell them to shut up and I will make another album. I’ve got so mad. I reworked the album and they loved it. I went back in that room and I’m like, “I’m putting this out anyway. If you don’t like it, fuck you.” I played it. It was amazing.
I have a few different quotes but one I found is, “I have a great disdain for anyone living a lie, people who steal other people’s creativity or looks, people who say things and don’t stand behind their word, and people who aren’t real.” You said that.
Where was that from?
I don’t know. I went through a bunch of old interviews that you had. You said, “I want to smash the stereotype that you can’t be the best at everything. I use anger to push me through stuff.” There’s one you said that I love. You asked yourself one day, “What are the things you never get tired of doing?” I have used that on my adult kids. When they are trying to figure out what they want, I say, “If there were no restrictions at all, what would you be doing?” Thank you for sharing that.
The point is every time that you think you are going to win and if it doesn’t pan out that way, fuck them. Keep going. The last point that I wanted to say about this is once I discovered this space of like, “Fuck that. I’m not going out like that. I’m getting out of the water,” I’m never going to feel that way again because now that I know I have gone through it, I know I can get my ass to fuck up again. I’m like, “Now I know I’m bulletproof. Now I know there’s no shit you can tell me. I’m going to make it happen for real.”
When I started to have these conversations with some of my other friends who were in the industry and a lot more famous than me, they told me their story and it’s the same shit. You think that artists make music blow up and they are famous. No, it’s this and this. It is non-stop up and down. When I heard some of the shit that David Bowie went through, he went from number one song to no money. You don’t know what the fucking process is and that’s what I had to understand. The outside looking in thinks I’m lit. I am lit. The idea of fame is not as simple as people make it out to be. That’s all I’ve got to say. Everybody out there, keep fucking going.
What advice would you give for people to get into the flow? If you could do anything without restrictions, is that how people can get into their flow of what their passion is?
This is unfortunate and I don’t want to sound like I’m dissing anybody. The parents and the older generations with kids, stop telling them that they can’t do shit. Shut the fuck up. Let them try it and discover it. A lot of times, you might have the greatest bass player of all time in your house and you don’t know because you are afraid of them failing so bad and that they are not going to have the success that you talked them out of taking a risk.
My thing is it’s based on the system that you were raised in. If you are a good parent, you love your children and you work hard, then that’s how they are going to be. I’m not the way I am because of fucking school. I’m the way I am because of my parents. I’m exactly like my dad but I took more risks. I’m a super version of my father. I know my son is going to be a version of me.
He’s the mini you already.Do the thing that you like to do the most. Click To Tweet
That’s my point. If he gets into video gaming, go crazy. All you should do is let them know what the pitfalls are. Go, “If you want to be a professional yo-yo player, that’s fine but look up how much a professional yo-yo player makes a year and wait maybe another idea.”
You may want it to be a side hustle.
I love breakdancing. I was a professional breakdancer for a long time and it made me no money at all. I was broke but I loved it so much. I still breakdance for fun. You can have a passion and be super passionate about it but you don’t have to make it your career. I know that most people want you to succeed in life but they are basing it off of their parameters or what they are afraid of what success can and can’t be.
A lot of times, that shit is impressionable on the kid who could have probably been the next John Lennon but you told him, “It’s a one in a million shot.” Also, stop fucking talking about shit that you don’t know. I don’t listen to anybody who’s not successful in what they are talking about. As soon as I started making music, “Watch out. The industry is full of snakes.” How the fuck do you know? You are over here with me.
People are going to naturally come into their flow. It’s about the community around them encouraging it. Don’t fucking discourage them into doing shit. Sometimes, you need to get hyped up a little bit. You can’t do it all on your own. The answer is not for the artist or the person who’s into their idea. If you feel what you are doing is right and motherfuckers are telling you, “Don’t do it,” stop sharing that with them. Do you know how many times I made a song? If somebody was like, “I don’t know.” I’m like, “Cool. I’m never playing you my music again. Fuck you.”
You have taught us so much, Nigel. You are the goddess of flow, resilience and hyper energy. “Just keep swimming,” by Nemo. Now you have a son and he watches Nemo.
That’s real, though. They can apply that to all areas of your life.
Let’s get him to play on his guitar Just Keep Swimming or something else because he did promise.
Can you play us a little something?
I don’t want to play fucking Nemo.
I don’t think they have a song. Do they?
Being that your name is Karen and that you are not a Karen, how does it feel maneuvering through life being a white woman named Karen in this climate?
Funny you should say that because Camille and I did an interview. I interviewed Camille and we talked about that. I didn’t even realize it. My kids were like, “Mom, you need to change your name.” I realized that I don’t act like that Karen. There are times I do ask for the manager. I ask because there’s a problem. When I ask, my kids are like, “Mom, no.” They are like, “What’s your name, ma’am?” I’m like, “Julie.” I’m not saying my name is Karen. Honestly, I don’t like any kind of discrimination.
I know that. You wouldn’t even be on the phone with me if that was the case.
In the same vein, that Karen is not a good type of person.
Karens are trash but real Karens are great.
You can’t judge a book by its cover. You’ve got to get to know a person.
There’s got to be a group of Karens For Good, actual women named Karen.
There is. My daughter found a Facebook group and she wants me to join it and I’m like, “No.” I will keep you posted on the Karen.
Welcome everyone to Favorite Things with our guest, Nigel Holt, otherwise known as HXLT. We are here to do an adult show and tell, and we are going to talk about the things that make us happy. As Nigel said, when you are focusing on negative shit, then you are going to get that back. We will put out stuff that makes us happy and it could be a product, a ritual, anything. Dena, what did you bring?
My friend sent me a sweatshirt for my birthday and it’s by a brand called The Great. It is the most comfortable sweater. It’s 90 degrees in Chicago. I’m inside so it’s cool but I am living in this. I can’t take it off.
It’s probably French Terry.
I don’t think so. It’s cozy and warm. I highly recommend it if you want to splurge on a sweatshirt.
I saw those. They are pricey.
French Terry is the best, most comfortable sweatshirt fabric you can get. I can see it from my eyes because I make clothes.
It’s 100% cotton.
French Terry is how it was woven.
Let’s call it French Terry because that sounds fancy and heavenly.
Camille, what did you bring?
I brought two products. I’m a snob about eyebrows. I’ve got this new product that works well about eyebrows and mascara. I wanted to share trèStiQue eyebrows that come with the pencil built into it and that’s what I used to fill in and to the cover-up. I’m now getting gray eyebrows. On the other side, there’s a gel with color. It helps cover that up, too.
Nigel, you need that. I’m kidding.
You don’t need this yet, but you might. On that same token, being that I worked as a model, you are taking clothes off and on a lot and you end up getting flakes with lashes and so on. I started finding mascaras that don’t flake and this is a great one. I feel like it does a great job and it’s cheap. It’s Lash Paradise by L’Oréal. It’s only $12 compared to department stores $26. Those are my two.
Thank you for sharing that. I love to look at old home videos. I want you to pay attention to this because I took a bunch of old CDs and I highly recommend doing this to get them transferred so that they are all on the cloud. Go, Nigel.
I’m a rapper and singer now.
Is this from the Bar Mitzvah?
You are killing his street cred, Karen.
My street cred is untouchable.
You came from that.
This is the thing you are sharing. We are showing products and you are like, “Look, breakdance.”
You inspire me. You can still do these moves. You are a badass. My point is old videos can bring you back to those times. This brought me back to why we love you so much, Nigel. We love your energy and your enthusiasm. You are such an amazing individual human being with an amazing soul. What’s your favorite?
The thing that I brought is a little baby guitar. He’s cute. He wants to be like me. Now he has his own little guitar rack and it’s a Ripper. It’s a real guitar.
That’s your son’s guitar?
This is Lennox’s guitar. I brought this to our house and he burst into confetti. He was the happiest kid on Earth. It was dope because it brings me a different level of joy. I can’t explain the happiness I get. Every day, it’s like a new toy and he’s like, “Can I play it?” I’m like, “Yes. Go crazy.” It’s a baby guitar.
Was that made for him?
They make kids guitars.
I didn’t know because it looks like a rock star. That guitar doesn’t look like the traditional guitar as you see at Guitar Center for kids.
Here we have my husband, my son, and Nigel’s son. They are like mini-mes of them.
Except for this one. He’s as big as hell.
I need to adopt that burst into a confetti statement. I love that. I have never heard that before but that is the perfect way of explaining happiness.
I hope our readers out there are bursting into confetti after they read this episode. If people want to contact you, how do they do that? How do they find you?
You are going to get a whole new audience of people.
I’m about to blow up.
I am, too. You are going to promote me so we are going to bring us all together.
That’s huge. Let’s go.
Thank you for joining us.
- GOOD Music
- FLOW Entertainment
- Energy Productions
- A to Z
- Friendship CLB
- The E-Spot
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- Amyl and The Sniffers
- Camille Kauer – Past Episode
- The Great
- @HXLTMusic – Instagram
- Twitter – HXLT Music
- Facebook – HXLT Music
Chicago born,raised and based artist Nigel Holt- originally Hollywood Holt- now HXLT-kicked off his career as a party rapper hip to Chicago’s bounce music scene, As Hollywood Holt, he became an established name within the Chicago rap scene, amongst childhood friends like Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, Virgil Abloh, and his cousin Mano, who, for a while, was Kanye West‘s DJ.
Nigel Holt evolved into HXLT, an act that was first dubbed a “hipster rapper” before he became the first “post-punk vocalist” signed to Kanye West’s label GOOD Music. Originally known as Hollywood Holt when he performed party rap over bounce music, he began to focus on his love of Bad Brains, the Clash, and post-punk and became the more strange, less b-boy Holt. That name changed to HXLT in 2015 when he posted a series of tracks to the Web Holt’s swift change in direction might seem abrupt, but he’s a man of many talents, exemplified through his past work as a professional break-dancer and achievements like producing Beyoncé and Andre 3000’s cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” for The Great Gatsby soundtrack. It was this cover, not his rapping, that caught West’s attention in 2013, eventually leading to HXLT signing with G.O.O.D. Music.
Holt lives in Chicago with his wife Jackie and son Lennox, who is like a mini-me to Holt learning guitar and blasting out tunes! Holt continues to be in the flow with his creativity and music.