While the underground is littered with rage-inducing talent everywhere you look, the Philadelphia-based rapper has been ahead of his time since he was featured on XXXTENTACION’s “$$$” in 2017. Now, the 17-year-old enigma has made leaps and bounds over the years — growing into the sound that he’s cultivated from the ground up.
Taking inspiration from the philosophies of Carl Jung and the Chinese Zodiac, YOTX not only saw the young rapper “unleash his energy,” but is a reassertion of his unrelenting grind through and through.
Holding three albums’ worth of songs, Ox shared one track every day over the course of December, initially releasing the project on SoundCloud before it hit DSPs Monday (Jan. 31). Giving fans small doses of the album throughout the end of 2021, his rollout went exactly as planned — staying grounded in the experience he wanted to create with his latest effort.
“I got too many vibes. I had five different versions of this album, I got so many songs. It was like, I didn’t want to waste this music and I didn’t want to oversaturate it. So I dropped it single-by-single-by-single. I didn’t want it to be too much at once, so my fans could keep following it and engage with it every day.”Matt Ox to OGM
Much like his close collaborators, Ox has both the flair and talent necessary to maintain his status as a underground star. On tracks like “Get It / Flip It,” “Hallucinated Visions” and “Genesis,” he’s heard piercing through the distorted disarray the production’s heavy 808s and gliding melodies bring forth. With razor-sharp synths, booming 808s and deep-cutted bars, his shrill, angsty vocals cut through every crevice of YOTX — reasserting his presence as one of the new wave’s original pioneers.
Switching up between head-bobbing hooks and flex-filled rhymes, Ox is like a bull in a China shop — rushing through his competition and breaking barriers with a sound all his own. Touting production that features visceral and eerily, hard-hitting beats, Ox’s maturity and ability to change his voice at will creates a unique energy that is one-of-one — channeling that bombastic attitude on a slew of differing sounds throughout the record.
From rage-rap, to sitar-infused bangers, to ominously conscious tracks in “Eyes Wide Open,” Matt’s eclectic nature pairs with his irreplaceable energy perfectly, lifting the young rapper to greater heights. The crazy part is, YOTX isn’t even all he has to offer — set to link up with sonic mastermind ryderoncrack for their track “MISFITS” in the near future. (Reported to release Feb. 4).
To put it simply, if you don’t know why it’s the Year Of The Ox, Matt gives you 31 reasons to figure it out — biting at the bit to turn up the heat ten-fold in 2022.
Listen to Matt Ox’s ‘YOTX’ and check out our full conversation below!
JB: Dropping this 31-track tape, you must have a lot more in the vault then?
Matt Ox: “I got thousands of songs, bro. Songs from like two, three years ago — and I got thousands of songs from this year too on top of that. So I’m looking through all this music and the more I look, the more I find for me. I’m trying to figure out what songs to put on an album, and since I got so much music, I just had to let it all out.“
JB: What does this album mean to you? As far as production and concept, how is this different from anything you’ve done thus far?
OX: “This album is like my release of energy. It’s like my Kamehameha, you feel me? It shows my diversity and just like all aspects of what I’ve been working on — and it’s not even all of it, that’s the crazy part. I had songs that were so out-of-the-box that I couldn’t put it on there. It goes from like melodic, to some hard punk track, to mosh-pit music, to anthem music, to emotional vibes — I wouldn’t even say it’s a lot of different genres because I believe music is just music. This album is me.”
JB: What’s the goal for you now moving forward from this album and the rollout?
OX: “I’m going to be more focused on shorter tapes that have different themes, different attitudes — I’m trying to make different characters that come out of my [music]. And I don’t care how many records it sells, because at the end of the day, I’m going to know 10 years from now that people are gonna look back at this shit and be like ‘damn, that was legendary, it’s going to create history.’ That’s the most important thing to me.”
JB: You went absolutely crazy in 2021. From working with Ty Fontaine, KA$HDAMI, DotCom Nirvan and more, you’ve been a staple of the underground since you were a kid. How did it feel to link up with UnoTheActivist and Lancey Foux again on the record?
OX: “[Lancey and Uno], that’s folk, that’s family. Everytime I see them, like, those are really close friends of mine. Me and Uno are supposed to have a tape coming soon, me and Lancey too actually. Those songs just kind of happened naturally.”
JB: Can you speak on how the underground is shaping music today, as well as the importance of all these artists that are coming out of it and really shaping the culture in a positive way?
OX: “The underground has always been mainstream for me. I remember when [XXXTENTACION] was underground bro, and he changed everything — blurred the lines for it all in music. That was like the transition from underground to the mainstream. It’s very important because it shows everyone else that you can do this too. Like, there’s actually a chance for you to do all this. You don’t have to be rich or looking good. You could be raggedy, bummy, crazy-looking and still go up. I feel like the underground truly shows people that anybody can do this.”
This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and cohesiveness.