It’s not everyday you see real musicians getting the light and shine they deserve. Insert Josh X, who is a proud, classically-trained graduate from the world-renowned Juilliard School where he perfected his piano and production skills. With a rare cosign from the one and only Stevie Wonder, real name Josh Xantus fuses his love for classical music with R&B, creating his own blend of both genres.
Ever since the young age of 6, the singer, songwriter, producer, and artist developer has been a student of the game, with a huge passion for the art of making music. With his musical background and ability to play instruments, it was at 13 years old when he created his first song.
It was during school where he’d meet the legendary Jadakiss, later releasing their collaborative record titled “All For Love.” From there, his catalog kept growing, working with everyone from Swizz Beatz to Birdman to Cardi B. Being part of The KSR Group meant being labelmates with the “Bodak Yellow” singer, and Josh X had the pleasure of being one of the first to ever produce her. The 2 would go on to collaborate on her single “Selfish,” along with his “Heaven On My Mind.
Now he releases his new single titled “No Luv,” found on his forthcoming The X Project. Flaunt caught up with Josh X via FaceTime, who was located in New York City. Read below as we discuss his journey from working with Jadakiss at age 13 to meeting Stevie Wonder to working with Cardi B to now releasing his new project.
Being from Queens, what was the household like growing up?
It was a movie. I had a Haitian mother trying to raise 5 kids without my father. She put the work in and told me I can be anything I wanted to be. Her first gift to me was the piano. She told me she had a feeling this would be my tool to succeed in life – she was right.
How did you get your start producing?
I was playing instruments at first. When I was creating my sound, I didn’t know how to explain or tell people how to create the music I needed. It forced me to learn how to make the music myself. Once I realized that I only knew the sound that I really wanted, I picked up those qualities of production.
How’s it feel to have the Stevie Wonder cosign?
It’s a very humbling blessing for me. That was a dream come true, as someone who went to music school and studied him in the books. When I met him, wow this is really happening. Stevie left me with a great responsibility as an artist. To be an artist that helps uplift people through my music and gets people to a positive place, that’s a big thing for Stevie to leave on me. I’ve been rocking with it ever since.
At what point did you realize that music could be a career?
When I was in front of Stevie Wonder was one of the moments. I thought, “okay, this is real. This is Stevie Wonder, he’s singing my song with me. He knows my name now, this is crazy.”
How did that happen?
I was on a promo tour at the time for my first song I put out called “First Time.” An R&B song straight on the piano, me singing and playing at the same time live. I was going through in and out of cities, I ran into Brian McKnight first which is my other idol. I was rocking Brian first, I didn’t think it could get better than that or close to that because that was my idol. Then my other idol of course being Stevie, that was the following day in LA.
What was the highlight from working with Jadakiss?
That was my first song in terms of writing. I wrote that song “Let’s Ride” with Jadakiss when I was 13 years old. I was imagining what it’d be like to ride in a dope car, chill with a pretty girl, and get lit. I put the song out after, it’s been lit ever since.
How’d you get Jada on it? New York ties?
That’s New York family ties, shout out to Jadakiss. You know I was team Jada during the VERZUZ all day, ya dig?
How was linking with Cardi B on “Heaven On My Mind”?
Linking with Cardi B was dope. We’re on the same record label, KSR. It’s me, Cardi B, HoodCelebrityy, Sammie Wilk, and the newly signed artists, Young Costamado & T. Dott and a few new acts coming out. We’re grinding together, that was one of the first records that we did.
You were one of the first people to produce for her right?
Yeah, it was dope working with her. We were a team. When I met her, I saw her creativeness and her personality was larger than life. When my boy Shaft said, “yo I got something real special here,I think you can add to it.” I saw it and we created some dope things.
Best memory from the video shoot?
Me on the Westside Highway riding with top off playing my record with the drone, with a beautiful girl on the right of me. It was a movie, getting lit.
3 things you need in the studio?
I need my herbal medication, because I smoke some gas! I need my papers, and I need my fronto.
So everything to roll?
Yeah, because the music is natural. That’s gifted by God. Once we go in the booth, it comes out. I just need a little something something to keep my anxieties together, help me stay on track a lot of times.
Being that you’re classically trained, do you produce all of your own music too?
Not all my music, I work with a lot of people. I worked with Swizz Beatz, he produced for me before. It was super dope. Swizz Beatz was one of the first guys I met in the music business early on too. I co-wrote the Empire song for Jussie Smollett, for the Pepsi commercial. Swizz Beatz brought me in on that one, shout out to Swizz. He’s one of the first producers I linked up with early in my career, showed me a lot of love. So yea, I work with a lot of different producers. My new single is produced by J. White Did It called “I Miss You,” coming out August 7th. It’s a fly record. Laidback, take it easy, we’re going to go viral.
Who or what inspired “I Miss You”?
I was missing someone. I’ve been going through some things. The pandemic’s crazy, been in the crib 4 or 5 months trapped in the trap. After a while, you start missing people.
What’s a normal day in the life?
My life is a movie. I don’t want to snitch on myself, but it’s real busy. Filled with music and positivity. Taking care of family is a must, I’m always tryna keep after the work and the grind, taking care of business. I try to kick it with the family, make sure my mom’s good. She caught the COVID-19 virus.
I’m so sorry!
It’s okay, she recovered. Thank God, she’s good now, I’ve been keeping her close, making sure I keep her on watch.
I know you’ve been vocal about #BlackLivesMatter on your IG, what does it mean to have a voice & platform?
It means everything, especially being a black man today. It’s crazy. Sometimes you don’t realize how crazy it is until all the media starts to hit. After George Floyd was murdered, he woke up a big part of America and made people see how crazy it is, how racism still exists in 2020 at its fullest. For me, I want to use my voice to educate people who may not know better. I believe in giving everybody a chance. I believe you’re taught to be racist, so maybe you can be taught to love. I use my platform to show love, help everyone feel like this movement is important for us to pay attention to.
What are some goals for yourself as an artist?
I want to travel the world once this is all over. Lay low, visit some great places that I haven’t been to. I really want to open up a music school. I want to be able to teach kids who are in the streets that they can take the right way. Kids that don’t have the opportunity or may be less fortunate, I want to give those kids a voice and a platform.
Anything else you want to let us know?
New single “I Miss You,” and the title of my EP is called The X Project. Fans can connect with me at @joshxantus on IG and Twitter and JOSH X on Facebook.