premiere: maxo shows his “strongside” in tender new video

December 13, 2019

Sensitivity is Maxo’s superpower. The 24-year-old Los Angeles rapper stands out from his contemporaries not simply because at 6’5″ he towers over many of them, but because his approach to songwriting is less about boasting and bragging and more about soul-searching.

Earlier this year, Maxo dropped his debut album, LIL BIG MAN, on Def Jam. Though released with little fanfare in March, the album has stood the test of time as one of the 2019’s best hip-hop releases. On LIL BIG MAN, Maxo externalizes the internal dialogue of a young Black man coming of age and finding his way in the world in a way that is emotive, relatable, and compelling. These aren’t bars for bars’ sake or a demonstration of how cleverly he can repackage rap clichés, instead, these are the musings of a young man who wears his heart on his sleeve.

As we close out a year in which he’s released powerful visuals for his songs “Time,” and “In My Penny’s” Maxo is saying goodbye to 2019 and reminding people about his album with the cinematic video for “Strongside” directed by Devlin Claro Resetar and Aniza-Imán Iñiguez. The video is a touching display of affection between Maxo and his partner (and rising star in her own right) Liv.E. AFROPUNK spoke to Maxo about the inspirations behind his music and the unique video for “Strongside”

What are you trying to convey with the visuals for “Strongside?” How do they relate to the track itself? Talk about the inspiration behind the song.

I like to let the art do what it do, but honestly the inspiration behind this song really just derives from times I haven’t been strong enough to filter my thoughts, finding myself believing everything I thought even the bad things. The brain is crazy. “Strongside” is essentially a conversation with myself.

There’s a lot of genuine tenderness between you and the video’s co-star Liv.e, how important is it to show that kind of tenderness between a black man and woman on screen?

Black love is the only thing I grew up seeing first hand so to me portraying that in the video was done without thought behind it. I do feel like the tenderness is often overshadowed by other things. For me this really just a step into my world I really wasn’t even coming with that angle. I do believe in different examples of things though

I could project a lot of stuff on to the music you make and the imagery that comes with it but how do you describe it yourself?

My music is really just a step into my mind and perspective — nothing more, nothing less — and it caters to who can relate to that. Everything else is for the listener or viewer to interpret.

You’re a part of a community of fellow artists that are making some of the most compelling stuff out right now, are there any of your peers that you want to shoutout?

Pink Siifu, Liv.e.

Any words you want to leave the AFROPUNK audience with?

Don’t be a rapper.