When speaking with Solo Jaxon, we’re given a perspective into an artist that exudes an unflinching sense of self. When discovering his music, you’ll find that truth only heighten through irrefutable lyricism. The Arkansas native and rapper dropped “I’m Not Okay” on Spotify and  SoundCloud earlier this summer. This act of vulnerability on the rigid Idle Kid production is an unexpected connection that is still so satisfying and relatable for most. With that track upload, Solo Jaxon unleashed an honesty he’s familiar with but a new momentum the industry will see soon enough.

Jaxon reps for his city as he spoke to us about the overlooked evolution of rap in Arkansas and his extensive library of influences from Paramore to Ace Hood. There’s an open brilliance to Jaxon available spiritually, mentally, and lyrically that will take his craft only up from here.

What do you feel has been the core of inspiration for your last few drops?

Uninhibited self-expression. Saying what needs to be said and not caring who opposes it, being a voice for myself and whoever wants to follow, consistency and honesty. Anger. I can’t say I sit down with the intention of making certain things, it just happens.

I have to ask, what’s the rap scene like in Little Rock, Arkansas?

The rap scene in Little Rock is ambitious, homey- it’s evolving. It’s complex and warm. I feel as though we have a lot to offer sonically. Sometimes we do shows with the Hardcore scene and I feel like that exposure has made the rap scene more well-rounded and accepting of other cultures. Everyone is welcome, it’s a close-knit community of basically a bunch of friends who don’t know each other’s names. Just within my immediate circle, its like 10 of us, and we all sound totally different and attack music differently.

Do you find a move to a major city a necessity to build your career?

Most definitely. There’s only so much you can do in your city before you have to move around. Coming from Arkansas, with no name or established reputation for the arts, (Hip-Hop specifically) it’s imperative that an artist branches out. There’s so much culture elsewhere and much more to experience. Leaving to bring that home is amazing. Giving other cities a perspective of what it’s like where you come from can also be an eye-opener. I feel like coming from Arkansas, there’s a low expectation if any at all. So to be able to share what we create with outsiders, I feel, sets an impressive tone.

Your song, “I’m Not Okay” sticks with me because of this abrupt honesty from the first seconds of the track’s opening. What activated those lyrics for them to come to life the way they did?

You ever heard the saying “Use your words.”? I’m learning how to use my words [laughs]. It was a release. I took the time, to be honest with myself.

On a bigger scale, I want people to understand it’s okay to not be okay- a lesson I’m still learning. Everybody has problems- we’re human. It’s easy to become callous, but when that callousness leads to less sympathy/empathy for the next person, we all lose. It’s okay to need help. Some things aren’t meant to be gone through alone. And sometimes we need guidance to maneuver us to the other side- the brighter side.

By Criss Flint/@crissdiamonds

Who were your early influences?

Too many to name honestly. Rock got me here, rap, funk, indie, gospel, it all led me here. But more specifically Kendrick, J. Cole, OutKast, Paramore, Lupe Fiasco, Pusha-T India.Arie, K.R.I.T., Jay-Z, Don Trip, Musiq Soulchild, Coldplay, Ace Hood, Kevin Gates, Tech N9ne, Young The Giant, Jay Rock..the list goes forever. These people epitomize everything I want to be as an artist. I was a fan before anything else. Their passion, honesty, authenticity, creativity, aggression, & relentlessness. I relate to it all.

I liked that you title yourself as a lyricist before the general term “rapper”? We both know too well that “rap” can mean anything in this era. What’s your stance on the current trends like “mumble rap”?

I used to be really big on wordplay and backpack rap, the type of stuff that you’d have to mentally prepare for. Over time I’ve learned expression is just that- expression- no matter how “deep” or shallow it’s packaged. I respect it. I get lit to it. I had Lil Uzi’s ‘The Real Uzi’ on repeat for months when it came out. I respect what Yachty stands for as far as his live and let live mentality goes. Every once in a while it’s necessary to step back from the super rap stuff. I get it. Everything has its time.

Do you feel any pressure now more than ever to disconnect and differentiate yourself from what’s popular in hip-hop?

I don’t think I could ever disconnect. I always go back to classics like “Dollar & A Dream III,” ‘Rise & Shine,’ ‘Shelter,’ ‘Black Boy Fly,’ ‘Cartoons & Cereal,’ or ‘Hiii Power’ to put me back into the mental spaces I was in when I first heard them to channel a certain feeling. But I also keep up with my peers, less and more established. Finding a balance between knowing who you’re up against and paying them no mind is a thing, but I love music so its fun to see what other up and comings there are to potentially share a record or stage with.

Are you gearing up for a larger project to release soon? If so, how has the process been for you?

Most definitely. It’s strenuous because this is still pretty new to me, but I’ve learned so much. Never does a day go by that I don’t learn something I want to incorporate into my next endeavor. It’s showing me who I am as a person before anything, then as the artist, I want to be. I’m excited.