With influences spanning from the Notorious B.I.G. to Jay Z, Andre Xcellence has set the bar high in terms of success. If the material on his latest EP “I’m Coming” is any indication, he is well on his way to rap royalty. From pumping dance (“So What”) to one-of-a-kind covers (“Go Wild” reworks The Violent Femmes’ notorious “Blister In The Sun”), there is something for fans of all genres of music on this package.
I caught up with Andre recently and we talked about his musical influences, being an out gay man in the rap game, and the Kardashian-adjacent personality with whom he is currently in the studio, who just may be changing the music game even more.
Tell me about your new track “I’m Coming.”
Andre Xcellence: I have worked with several other labels; we did music with the LGBT community before as well. I produced TS Madison’s EP, I’ve worked with RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Shangela, Courtney Act, Laganja Estranja, and others. I built this label and this production team, and kind of got lost along with way, having someone else’s career in my hands. I kind of decided to take a backseat. It was equal parts what my team wanted to do and having issues with my team, so I let that team go. I decided to get back to basics. I love working with the girls, they are a brand unto themselves and music is one of the things that they actually brand. I felt that I needed to get back to promoting someone who considered music to be number one in their life. I had a “come to Jesus” moment and knew that I myself would have the energy, the focus and the time needed to do it, so I decided to do it.
What is it like working with people like TS Madison and Courtney Act, who definitely would have their own ideas of what they want do?
AX: They are definitely all bosses and have their own personalities. They’re amazing people; I am a people person, so it is all about learning your goal, the end game and what your style is. They are all leaders and go-getters, and it in turn inspires me.
Do you think, for your own career trajectory, that rap was the style of music you thought you would always be working in?
AX: I love rap. I have since I was a child. I have a photographic memory, even for songs that I don’t like. I can remember them. Rap has always been my thing though. When I heard Biggie rap, and heard how amazing some of his lyrics were, it got me. I see this big guy with everyone flocking to him and I knew right then and there that I wanted to do that. I stopped doing it for so long because the industry was not where it needed to be in terms of accepting a gay artist in the mainstream. I was not going to be anything but myself, and would not until things changed, or at least started to.
From your perspective, have things changed on the inside of the music industry?
AX: Personally, I am not what is considered the stereotypical gay man. I am a huge football fan, and at one point, I almost was a football coach. I am a huge part of the LGBT world as well. I am a club kid that used to go the Junior (Vasquez) and Peter (Rauhofer) parties, I just love music. Gay does not define me; I have many other different tastes. To people in the industry, I am just an artist, just a rapper. When they hear what I can do they are impressed; then when they find out that I am gay, I have just broken down some barriers.
I dealt with an artist recently who had no idea I was gay, and had never met a gay person before, until me. That is what breaks down barriers. I cannot say that I have not had some doors closed earlier in my career, but I think now, more and more, I just want my music to speak for itself.
You have collaborated with so many fantastic people; whom do you think you would love to get into the studio and vibe with?
AX: Jay Z, without a doubt. He is probably the reason that I got into rap. He is the best ever. His career is absolutely defining. He taught so many people how to rap, how to progress and keep going. He single handedly helped people see how to keep a genre like rap keep going. Rap was always about youth and being heard. He showed you how to be an adult in rap. He is lyrically proficient and always on point. To be able to work with him one day on a record would be the ultimate honor.
You are collaborating with reality star and almost Kardashian, Blac Chyna. Tell me about working with someone who, right now, is a very public figure.
AX: We are working together. I can’t say too much, but I can tell you this—she is coming. Money comes from doing what you do well. I don’t want to work with someone who does not have talent; it would not be worth it. It is going to show that she has that talent. I worked in the corporate world before, with CEOs and bosses, and that’s what she is. She works every day, and her daily task list makes me think I have to step my own game up! She is a mother, a businesswoman and an amazing all-around woman. I don’t read what people say about her; she is here for a studio session and to work with me. I got to know her, and I have come to respect her, and I think the world is going to be pleasantly surprised when they hear what we have been working on.
What inspires you?
AX: I ask people all the time, are they doing what they love, and do they love what they are doing? That is how you measure success. I would rap for free; I love rap. Find out what you love to do, and do that, then find out how you get paid to do it. If you love to do something, you don’t work a day in your life. That is the truth.