One name that has been hard to ignore as of late is that of Lil Xan, an up-and-coming rapper who has managed to ruffle more than a few feathers during his relatively short time in the spotlight. After coming to prominence with buzz-worthy releases like “Slingshot” and “Far,” the California native’s stock skyrocketed. With the debut of “Betrayed” and its accompanying music video, the 21 year-old’s status became somewhat of a leader of the new school, earning him a legion of rabid fans as a result.
In addition to his music and mellow, yet affable personality, Lil Xan has been making waves for things beyond the music. After sharing his take on rap icon Tupac Shakur, who the upstart deemed musically boring in an interview, a healthy amount of backlash prompted from fellow artists and fans alike. He’s not the first artist to give rap pioneers and forefathers a lackluster critique, and that has not kept him from being the latest poster child for the strained relationship between hip-hop‘s new school and old school.
With the conversation surrounding Lil Xan and his comments, many people curious and unsure of what to make of the young artist, which is why VIBE has decided to give you a crash course and share ten facts about rap’s latest lightening rod and why he may be one to look out for.
1. Lil Xan Was A High School Dropout
Lil Xan (born Diego Leanos) attended Redlands East Valley High School, but dropped out during his freshman year due to a lack of interest in academics. Leanos would spend the subsequent years unemployed before briefly holding a job as street cleaner.
2. Lil Xan Is Latino
Despite some fans’ assumptions that he’s Caucasian, Lil Xan is actually of Mexican descent and was born on September 6, 1996 in Redlands, California, making him one of the latest artists with Latin roots to thrive on the rap scene.
3. Lil Xan Was Once A Photographer
Prior to pursuing a career in rap, Lil Xan was an aspiring photographer who took photos of local rap acts. But after his camera was stolen while on stage, Xan decided to switch hustles, opting to shell out money for studio time instead of buying a new camera. The rest is history.
4. Lil Xan Released His Debut EP In 2016
The young rapper got his feet wet in the rap game with his debut project, CITGO, a five-track quick-strike effort that featured a guest appearance from $teven Cannon, production by Jason Rich, KanielTheOne, OOHDEM BEATZ, Tasty Beatz & YEEYAY, and had early standouts like “Talixan,” “Who Are You,” and “Been Bout It.”
5. Lil Xan Doesn’t Actually Do Xanax
In spite of his rap name, Lil Xan doesn’t actually take Xanax recreationally, but does have personal experience with the drug, which he has admitted to being addicted to in the past. After dealing with multiple trips to the hospital and going through withdrawal as a result of his usage, Lil Xan chose to kick the habit cold turkey and has even toyed with the idea of changing his name in an attempt to further disassociate himself from the prescription drug.
6. Lil Xan’s Single “Betrayed” Is Hit Biggest Song To Date
Released on June 19, 2017, “Betrayed” is Lil Xan’s biggest hit to date, which peaked at No. 64 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and racked up more than 48 million plays on his SoundCloud page alone. A song that warns against the dangers of Xanax, “Betrayed” was accompanied by a Cole Bennett-directed music video that has played a pivotal role in expanding the Lil Xan brand, earning over 148 million views on YouTube and establishing him as one of the breakout stars of last year.
7. Lil Xan Is Signed To Columbia Records
Following the viral success of “Betrayed,” fan favorites like “Slingshot” and “Wake Up” gained traction and Lil Xan inked a record deal with Columbia Records. In November 2017, the Californian joined the artist roster including Pharrell, Tyler, The Creator, Russ, DeJ Loaf and Ayo & Teo.
8. Lil Xan’s Influences Include Alternative Rock and Rap
Lil Xan’s earliest influences included acts like N.E.R.D., Arctic Elephants, Cage the Elephant and Queens of Stone Age, as well as rappers like Drake and Mac Miller, the latter of which Xan credits as a big inspiration musically.
9. Lil Xan’s Total Xanarchy Tour Sold Out In Five Hours
In December 2017, Lil Xan announced his plans to hit the road for the Total Xanarchy Tour, his first headlining tour, with special guests $teven Cannon and Hippe Sabotage. Consisting of 25-dates, the tour, which reportedly sold out within five hours, kicked off on Jan. 25, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and included stops in California, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York and more.
10. Lil Xan’s Debut Album Is Scheduled To Drop In 2018
Lil Xan’s debut album, Total Xanarchy, is set to be released on April 6, 2018 via Columbia Records. Guest features include YG, 2 Chainz, Charli XCX, Diplo, Rae Sremmurd and $teven Cannon, as well as Yo Gotti and Rick the Kid, who both appear on the “Betrayed (Remix).”