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Tyler Andrews, better known by his stage name Xperience or XP, has had a whirlwind of a year. Born in Olympia, Washington, raised in both Detroit and Gary, Indiana, he eventually settled in Seattle, where he met Ben Haggerty, known to the world as Macklemore. This year he went on a massive worldwide tour with the “Thrift Shop” emcee and put out a new solo album, Chasing Grace. More than just a Hip Hop album, the 16-track effort covers a wide range of musical genres. Described as “a sonic journey into the mind of man who’s soul is at war,” the album is a sneak peek into what makes XP the man he is today. He had a few minutes to talk about Macklemore’s “celebrity” status, the current presidential race, and what his music means to him. For more information, click here.

The Source: Do you ever feel like Macklemore’s “celebrity” status eclipses what you want to do as a solo artist? 

XP: Not at all. I think we make different kinds of music, but when we come together we do our thing. If anything, he has helped me become a better artist overall, and celebrity status or not, we’d still be making music. That’s all we really want to do. I don’t need celebrity status, but lawd if I get some [laughs], I’ll have a better idea on how to deal with it from watching Mack. He has used his status to open doors for a lot of people, so I’m grateful for that.

What have you learned from touring with Macklemore?

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I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned how to structure a song better overall. I’ve learned rapping fresh is great, but what you do and say in-between songs is just as important. Just working with Mack and Ryan in the studio is a learning experience itself. My ear has gotten sharper. I’ve learned to appreciate every single fan you get and be as personable as possible. I’ve learned when crowd surfing not to jump out ass first haha. Also his hustle and business savvy is on point. There’s a lot of do’s and don’ts so his advice is very important to me.

Switching topics, what are your thoughts on the presidential race? 

We have always been forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. My thing is this, and I could be wrong, but once they admit to having a machine that changes your vote, voting becomes pointless. I mean nobody voted for Bush, Jr.  And he still won. I think we all know, or should by now, presidents are selected, not elected.

How do you think music can help educate people on important issues? 

Music has always been a therapeutic process for listeners and artists. From what I’ve learned, Hip Hop, and I mean real Hip Hop, was created to raise the consciousness and spirits of melanated and oppressed people. Control the music, and you control the energy and movement of the masses. Now, the rapper used to be the hood’s reporter, and vice versa. Now, the rapper reports on what he or she wants and thinks is cool, not the betterment of their community. This must change. There must be some accountability for your words. Children are listening.

Do you think protests are effective in 2016?

Dr. Umar stated that protests are the advertisements of the movement. If you don’t have the protest, then the world will not understand what you are fighting for. Your actions cannot be understood without the protest. But, some are protesters, and some are doers. We need both of these soldiers.

What does the music you make mean to you on a personal level? 

I first and foremost must do what I can to make the world better, that’s number one. Then, I have to tell my story, where I come from, where I’m going, all while being as talented as I can be. I respect and love this culture so much, so I try to reflect that in my music. Then,I have to survive off of it, which is the hardest part of them all. But I’m getting there.

What do you have coming up?

Releasing this album first. It should be ready by mid-September. I’ve already started working on some new material, as well as a couple features. And touring man, I just want to be on the road as much as possible. I feel most alive out here performing for people.

Where can people find your music? 

www.xpmusic.rocks
www.districtlines.com/xperience
iTunes, Spotify and all other publications
Www.YouTube.com/xperiencexp
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook @Xperiencexp
Snapchat @Xperience