Rise of XO : NAv x BELLY

The XO label founded by multi-talented Canadian-born artist, The Weeknd, has become one of the most lucrative labels in the hip hop industry. Though unofficially founded in 2011, the label has propelled itself amongst hip hop’s elite, keeping Canada on the map.

During the rise of XO, it has been said that even in its premature stages The Weeknd has been able to draw a pretty secure fan base. A fan base whose continuous support lead him to drop numerous hit singles along with larger and equally successful projects including House of Balloons which was released in March 2011, and Thursday released in August of the same year. While it is true that the success of each project has allowed for The Weeknd to gain unprecedented traction on his own, the label struggled to see the same success.

With that in mind, The Weeknd decided to begin his search for new additions to the team. During this search, he came across Palestinian-Canadian artist and producer Belly, signing him in late 2015. Followed by Derek Wise and later adding artist and producer Nav in 2016. While each artist is fairly similar in style and cultural background, they each bring a unique flair to their tracks paired with witty lyrics and smooth beats much like the style of the founder himself. While XO artists are pretty successful in their own right, the label's biggest success stories would have to be Nav and Belly who have each made huge names for themselves since joining the label.

photographed by  Trip & Trap

photographed by Trip & Trap

Belly is one of the first artists to be signed to the label and certainly makes sure no one forgets it. Dropping countless hits from "Pressure," featuring Ginuwine which ranked at number 10 on the Canadian CHR radio charts and peaked to number one on Much Music's Video chart, to his second popular single "Don't Be Shy" which features Nina Sky. Both tracks have been pivotal to his rise gaining him major buzz in the industry.

Amongst the group, Belly is seen as a triple threat being that he is the only artist with extraordinary talent not only in the arena of singing and songwriting, but also in the areas of producing and creative directing. Most recently, Belly co-wrote Beyoncé's "6 Inch" track featured on her Emmy-nominated album Lemonade. Accomplishments such as this have led to Belly being honored with the "Songwriter of The Year" award at the 2016 Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), as well receiving constant recognition from big names in the industry such as Jay-Z and Drake. However, he doesn't stop there -- The Canadian native is also set to release a new mixtape and full-length album later this year through Roc Nation. Making him a definite force to be reckoned within the months to come.                    

In 2016, XO decided to add another talented artist to the team by the name of Nav who has certainly made his mark since then. Nav officially launched his career in 2015 when releasing the track "Take Me Simple," on SoundCloud which has gained over 100,000 hits. This traction helped him to gain notoriety from big name artists in the hip hop industry like Drake who debuted the track on OVO Sound Radio Beats in early 2016. Though the occurrence that really set off his career was becoming noticed by well-known reality television personality Kylie Jenner who posted a video of her lip-syncing to another track of his entitled "Myself". Not only did this push the track to become noticed by a larger fan base, but much like his first track, it allowed for Nav to become connected with A list artists specifically Travis Scott who he later worked alongside to produce the hit track "Beibs in the Trap" featured on Scott's second album, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. With Nav’s help the song went Gold peaking at number 90 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Making Nav somewhat of a household name. Each game-changing opportunity has seemed to motivate him to debut his self-titled album Nav, seeing as though his eager fan base was ready for so much more from him. Though only being released last month, the album is already a huge success giving fans a first-hand glimpse into the life of both Nav and his XO journey.

Though XO has become quite successful over the past few years, the label isn’t the only one to call Canada home. Drake’s OVO Sound (October's Very Own Sound) could certainly be deemed friendly competition. The label features hip hop heavy hitters such as PARTYNEXTDOOR, Majid Jordan, OB O'Brien, Roy Woods and DVSN all whom have dropped continuous hit tracks and albums as well as working alongside in-house producers such as 40, Boi-1da, T-Minus, Mike Zombie, Nineteen85 and Future the Prince, each adding to the label’s unique sound. While it is true that labels such as OVO and even Maybach Music Group (MMG) lead by Rick Ross and featuring artists like Wale, Meek Mill, Omarion, Gunplay and Torch.

What truly sets the XO label apart is its artists’ extraordinary song writing and the ability to creatively produce hits -- creating great music for not only themselves but for artist outside their genre. This is a skill that will always lead to endless revenue for the label and its artists. With that being said both Belly and Nav are sure to continue down the path of making huge waves this year. Guaranteed, they are not a duo to sleep on.


James McDonaldComment