A Fresh Canvas

Social media influences have written a new chapter of hip hop, in which success is equated with appearance-based shock value and the ability to flaunt new money (looking at you, Lil Pump). Up-and-coming artist Zavy (Xavier Young) offers the genre a priceless authenticity and a chameleon-like talent.

Young took his music career more seriously last year in the wake of his viral Ten Toes Down rendition — a challenge where artists freestyle over the Ten Toes Down instrumental track. The 19-year-old’s verses were laced with gratitude and love for his late grandfather, a theme that struck a chord with more than 11 million viewers.

“Forty thousand comments about me,” he says. “I would refresh the page and it would go up a thousand comments.” 

Although Young has had a sip of viral success, he is focused on endurance rather than a quick sprint to fame, like his more flamboyant peers.

“I want to make this a career. I’m going to push it to my best ability,” he says. “Every day I wake up and I see my siblings, it pushes me harder. I want to be financially stable and give them everything they ever wanted. My family keeps me going.”

Young keeps an eye on what breeds success, then humbly grinds in the studio with his crew, honing his fresh and malleable sound. One scroll through his SoundCloud and he takes listeners from hi-fi to R&B, from Justin Bieber to XXXTentacion.

Young’s stunning vocals and new-wave style provide something for everyone — and, at the end of the day, he is a brilliantly blank canvas for the music industry.

Zavy performs 8 pm Saturday, Aug. 4, at WOW Hall; tickets $8 adv., $10 door.