It's a Saturday afternoon, and Alexander Izquierdo is smoking the last of his cigarettes outside of DJ Infamous' studio in North Miami. He's recovering from a night (and morning) of South Beach clubbing for a friend's bachelor party. It'll continue, but not until this stopgap of an interview has been completed.
Known now as Eskeerdo, the Hialeah rapper, responsible for writing credits on Kanye West's "Clique," Meek Mill's "Burn," and Rihanna's "No Love Allowed," is prepping his latest solo effort, Eskeerdo, a follow-up to last year's DJ Don Cannon-hosted mixtape, 31 Days, that will serve as a reintroduction to this artist who once went by the name Xplicit. And what better way to reintroduce yourself to the world than having your latest single, "For the City," be used in the Miami Heat's "Heat Nation" short film?
But before Eskeerdo rides off into a night of unthinkable antics, he spoke with New Times about writing for others, his relationship with Derick G., and, of course, Hialeah.
See also: Five Signs You Might Be a Shitty Rapper
New Times: How did you and the Monsters start out?
Eskeerdo: I was still trying to do my thing, and my managers at the time owned MixtapePrinting.com. They sponsored an event called Beats on the Beach that Lex Borrero threw. We sponsored the event, I got put on the show, I got into it at the show, which led to an altercation, which I'm not going to speak on.
I performed for some pretty big-name A&Rs the next day. I was welcomed back, thankfully. And I said, "Fuck you A&Rs," basically, onstage after I performed. I said, "Look, I really appreciate you guys coming out, but I'm going to get it with or without y'all." This probably set me back about a year or two in my career. So then I went back, and my managers were like, "Listen, we got to figure something out. Let's put a hold on the artist stuff. Let's see some other avenues." My engineer Stefan was like, "Why don't you write for other people?" I didn't even know that existed. We contacted this dude Lex, and we were like, "Listen, you brought some A&Rs down for this event; how can we workout a situation to get me in the room with some of these people, so I can play them some of my music?"
Why did you go from Xplicit to Eskeerdo?
Well, Izquierdo is my last name. All my close friends call me Izquierdo, like my family. I'm extremely prideful of my name. The reason I decided to change it was because Xplicit is relatively well-known in the industry, and I just wanted to start a new slate.
I also changed the spelling because I thought it would be easier for people to pronounce. Turns out, it's fucking hard as fuck to pronounce. I wanted to open a new chapter in my book and reintroduce the artist. Because when I'm in the room with people, yeah, I'm myself, but I'm not expressing my culture. I'm trying to be in your brain. I'm trying to be in that artist's brain. I'm tying to see, "OK, what do you want to say?" And then elevate that. Now I'm speaking for me. I'm being Eskeerdo.
What's the transition like from writing for rap to writing for another genre such as R&B or pop?
The only difference is melody. But I'm brought in the room because of my urban sensibility. A lot of pop producers, they enjoy urban lyrics. It's kind of like the new wave. I fit right in. It's not really an adjustment at all. I feel like I can finesse both situations, and I have. I'm working on a lot more pop stuff that is coming out now.
Other Miami cities are considered to be breeding grounds for rap artists, places like Carol City, Liberty City, North Miami, Opa-locka. But Hialeah doesn't seem to be recognized, despite being such a huge part of Miami.
Yeah, we plan to change that, though. That's the goal. I'm superproud of where I'm from. Sometimes, we're looked at as a cesspool. People look at us and ask, "Why the fuck do your streets change?" And a bunch of shit. People only speak Spanish. But you know what? I love that shit. That element made me who I am. From the dude selling churros and selling water to me just having to deal with everyday life.
We're one block from Carol City. We're one block form Opa-locka. We're one block from Northwest, Brown Subs, and all that shit. We're in the middle of it all. I've mingled in it all, but I've always put on for Hialeah. And I don't really have the answers to why it never has. But again, I'm pretty sure, I'm 100-percent positive, I'm going to do it justice and rep it right.
It's crazy, because I rep Derick G.'s brand very heavy. I'm now not usually seen without a Hialeah hat or sweater. And people are like, outside of Florida when I travel, "I see it all over your Gram and shit; what's this Hialeah?" I work closely with No ID, and No ID is always clowning me about how to pronounce my fucking city's name and shit.
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How do you explain Hialeah?
Man, Hialeah is a fucking confusing place, dude. I spent 11 years on the east side, and I spent the rest of life on the west side. And I've been in all areas. Hialeah is a funny place, because no matter what people say about it, when you're from Hialeah, everybody reps Hialeah to the fullest. People are so proud to be from Hialeah. So I'll say it's a real prideful city. I feel like people are superloyal in my city. We always look out for one another. At least me, when I know somebody is from Hialeah, I go the extra mile for them.
And that's why me and Derick G. clicked really well. He was like, "You love this shit just as much as I love this shit; let's put on together."
Describing it is just difficult, because just like them streets change, when you go in, it's like the Twilight Zone. You don't know where the fuck you at and you don't know how to get out, but you in that bitch, and you have to learn to adjust. I remember I got a flyer passed to me saying, "We speak English." It was a shoe store or some shit. "We speak English." I was like, "What? Shouldn't it be, 'We speak Spanish'?"
Tell me about your relationship with Derick G.
I met Derick because of my boy Q. Really, when we started taking the artist shit serious, I was like, "I want to meet everybody in Miami." Everybody I hadn't met who knew me as X; I wanted to reintroduce myself and call everybody like, "Yo, I'm coming back. But as this dude. As myself." And when I came home, I knew a lot of people, but there was still a lot of people that were cultivating culture that I hadn't met that I wanted to meet. My boy Q was like, "You need to meet Derick G." And I knew of Derick G. because of the Cash Money shit and all the vlogs. I didn't know how strongly he repped Hialeah, though. And how much influence he had. So my boy Q sets up this meeting. We played some songs that nobody is ever going to hear because it was the first run of music. There was this one record that really caught his attention. I was talking about coming from Northwest over the bridge and how shit changes. He was like, "Dude, you really rep Hialeah." And we really just hit it off like that, just 'cause of the city. We spent a lot of time with each other. We know each other's family. He's family. It's beyond work now. It's more like brothers now.
What was it like knowing the Miami Heat was going to use "For the City"?
Oh my God! Let me tell you something, man. First of all, that was Infamous and Derick G. I owe that shit to them. And shoutout to the Heat organization. I'm just at a loss for words for that, because I'm such a huge Heat fan, growing up on that. I've had Heat since Rony Seikaly. Motherfuckers can't tell me shit. Man, I won a Grammy, bro, and my mom was happier about the fucking Heat using my song than the Grammy. That's how much that shit mean to me. When I was in the stadium and I wasn't even sitting close, I was sitting in the 300s, the Heat, they put me in one of their staff boxes, and man, when I seen them boys run out to my shit, just the overwhelming feeling, that shit was fucking crazy. The Heat are running out to my song.
For the video, you have a good amount people in there. You have Khaled, Dre from Cool & Dre, Uncle Luke, ¡Mayday!, Norma Moreno, YesJulz, Aja, Gil Green, Piccalo. But there aren't any other artists on the rise such as Denzel Curry, Prez P, Bizzy Crook, or Iceberg.
We reached out to a bunch of people who knew a lot of artists. In my defense, I met everybody after the video. I'm all about unity. It was nothing personal at all. Some of those artists I have never met. And the artists I did meet, I met them after. I met Iceberg at the Peter Bailey nightcap. Supernice guy. I'm sure we're going to schedule some things and do some work. And I met Denzel at a studio through his manager. I was working with Kevin Gates and Denzel was meeting with an A&R from Atlantic. And I knew the A&R, and he was like, "Oh, do you guys know each other?" We were like, "Oh, shit." Denzel was like, "I saw you performing at Peachfuzz." We had just missed each other, though.
I would love to do music from everybody from the crib. I'm all about the unity of Miami, period. People don't really understand that it's my main fucking goal. I remember telling DJ Nasty last month, "Yo, Nasty, we need to do something for the crib." And "For the City" is for the crib. If everybody wants to do a remix to that motherfucking song, let's do it. I don't give a fuck. We'll shoot a whole other video and make it crazier. Bring a helicopter. Blow some shit up. I don't give a fuck. That's what I'm about. It's nothing personal at all. I would've loved for them to have been in the video, but time just allowed me to meet some of them later on.
Do you feel like you're the new guy?
I don't even know how to answer that. I am the new guy.
I ask because a lot them have pretty much cemented themselves with a fan base here.
I'm on the verge of creating my fan base. And in the light, of course, I'm 100 percent the new guy. And I like that.
But at the same time, you're not, because while in Miami you may be, outside you're not.
Eskeerdo is new. That's what it is. But again, I know exactly what I'm going to do, and we're doing it. It's a slow grind, but I'm ready for it. I'm as excited as I've ever been in my life. And I have no problem being the new guy, because I've seen the end goal, and that's to be on top, and to bring everybody together. They're going to name it whatever they want. The new dude. The Spanish dude with the long hair. The Jesus look-alike. They're going to call me whatever. I like it all. It's cool.
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