By : Shamus Hill
5 min read
There aren’t many rappers in Massachusetts, or anywhere else for that matter, who can compare to Springfield’s Jxylen. His discography contains a certain aura filled with darkness and grit that automatically sweeps in when the play button is pressed. Earlier this year, he dropped his debut album, Project Mayhem, a ten song offering that imparts these sentiments with pin-point accuracy. He follows up on this release with the “Fight Club Edition” of the album – a deluxe that contains four additional songs to further the looming feelings of doom that surrounded the project’s initial version.
When listening to a song by Jxylen, there are many characteristics that meld together to define who he is as an artist. First and foremost, the way his voice carries across each foreboding instrumental is what captivates many initially. There’s a high level of rawness embedded into each verse that he unearths, as his music is seemingly filled with a pent up aggression that has at last reached a point of boiling over. While his style of rap is one of his more distinctive factors, his selection of beats is what furthers the tenacity of his catalog. Working with producers such as AUR, Jadooks, NTVRME, and more to bring Project Mayhem to its final stages, Jxylen’s poised selection of beatmakers cements the underlying conviction in each stanza that he writes. What really brings everything together is his creative direction, all of which is controlled and executed himself. The aim, art, and visuals that have accompanied the various components of his discography reinforce everything that was mentioned above, placing a ribbon atop the well-wrapped package that is his catalog of music. Jxylen knows exactly what he wants to do, and manages to hit the mark every time.
Project Mayhem kicks off with the screeching sounds of Dr. Frankenstein, whose shrill screams boast of satisfaction at the genuine awe of his creation coming to life. The same feelings seemingly swarmed Jxylen upon the completion of this album, as he finally unfurled his grasp around this impassioned body of work. From this point onward, listeners are met with an onslaught of raps that do not break stride until the final moments of the tape. Centered around Jxylen’s ability to persist past any obstacle that comes his way, circumnavigating negativity, and finding a way to remain real amongst the fake, Project Mayhem’s original 10 songs delve into the various corners of this young creative’s psyche. Many of his raps read as a guided manual for surviving in the deranged world that we live in, with Jxylen seldom shying away from injecting his real life experiences into every syllable.
The four songs that form the “Fight Club Edition” of this project are a wondrous extension of what the original body of work conveyed. Rather than fitting into this release as a handful of add-ons, these four new tracks breathe a different form of life into Project Mayhem, showcasing Jxylen’s never-relenting ability to cultivate raps. Each of these tracks is substantial, shining a light onto the potency that fills Jxylen’s catalog. It’s genuinely difficult to select a standout, but if I had to, it would be “Still Tired” and “SKT 3” featuring Dayvii and KENZO. Both of these songs are filled with the rawness that attracts many to Jxylen’s music, and are some of his best creations to date. If you need some high quality raps to digest, then look no further than Project Mayhem: Fight Club Edition. You won’t regret it.
Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #154 January 2023
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