Tyler Jackson, known onstage as Musashi Xero, is half of the local hip-hop duo Xero/God, a collaboration with producer Panther God. Their most recent album, Bandidos, was released last October, but Jackson has been busy in the meantime. “I’ve always done solo EPs in between the big Xero/God albums,” says Jackson. “This project is my third EP.”
On Saturday, May 26, the Asheville Beat Life Collective hosts a free “psychedelic beat showcase” and album release party for the latest Musashi Xero EP, The Otherside, at The One Stop.
The three songs that make up The Otherside were produced by Cliff Worsham of local electro-soul outfit RBTS WIN, under his producer moniker Mother Hood.
”[Worsham] and I connected over a year and a half ago and started cutting records,” says Jackson. “We made four songs and decided to go with these three, which I tried to tie up into a brief conceptual idea about ‘the other side’ — this somewhat vague idea of basically getting where you’re trying to be, becoming who you’re trying to become, getting what you’re trying to get, the trials and tribulations that come with that, and the determination to get there.”
According to Jackson, the album is not only conceptual in a lyrical sense, but it also explores his idea of “the other side” in a musical sense as well. “It has a really strong aesthetic, because [Worsham] lends his vocals to two of the tracks. I wanted to give the album a progression, so the first track is just me, the second track features me and a little bit of [Worsham], and then the final song features a lot of [Worsham] and myself going back and forth,” says Jackson.
Each song ends with a spoken-word outro narrated by Jackson and manipulated by Worsham. At the end of the first song, the vocals are clean, but the vocal effects increase as the EP progresses, which Jackson says was done to reinforce the concept of moving to the other side. “It gets more dark as the project goes on,” he says. “I wanted to tie a couple ideas of this progression to the other side within the music itself. It’s just a brief conceptual thing.”
The embedded video might not be appropriate for all viewers and listeners:
The Otherside was finished a year ago, but Jackson held off until now to release it to prevent it from conflicting with the Xero/God album he was working on at the time. In the interim, he made a music video for “Grew into a Script,” the second track on his solo EP.
“The song is the most introspective on the album,” says Jackson. It’s “about my progression in trying to grow into the script of who I saw myself to be, and what I wanted to achieve, or where I wanted to go with what I was doing.”
The video was filmed and produced by local videographer Andrew Anderson and features scenes filmed at several Asheville-area locations, including The Foundation Spot skate park in the River Arts District, an abandoned gas station in West Asheville and a moss-covered wooden bridge in Candler.
Jackson and Anderson also teamed up to film a music video for “All Promo,” a track off the latest Xero/God album. The visual includes scenes with Musashi Xero, dead on a couch at a funeral, and then alive, rapping in a graveyard. It was one of the finalists for this year’s Music Video Asheville awards show.
“A lot of dope hip-hop was represented this year,” says Jackson. “I’m definitely grateful to have been included and honored to have shown a sold-out Diana Wortham Theatre my dead body.”
Of the release party at the One Stop, Jackson says, “It’s part of the Beat Life Series, which is a great group of guys that I’ve been throwing shows with for four years now. We feature producers and DJs and artists — bands from all over the Southeast.” Mother Hood will headline, then Jackson and Worsham will perform The Otherside EP in its entirety. The showcase will also feature performances from Beat Life Collective artists Slow Drip and Joe Grisly, as well as artists Lavier and SIIDS from the Less-Than-Family Collective.
“It’s a big lineup,” says Jackson, who is also enthusiastic about the general current state of hip-hop in Asheville. “I think there is a superstrong roster of artists who have put in the work and built their fan bases, built their followers, their sound and their live performances.”
He adds, “There’s a great pool of talent right now.”
WHAT: Beat Life Collective Psychedelic Beat Showcase and Musashi Xero EP release party with Mother Hood, Musashi Xero, Slow Drip, Joe Grisly, Lavier and SIIDS
WHERE: One Stop, 55 College St., ashevillemusichall.com
WHEN: Saturday, May 26, 10 p.m., by donation