Sac State student looking to make a difference in Sacramento hip-hop

Rapper Xzavion Stevenson discusses his upbringing and music career

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Xzavion Stevenson,22, admiring the Sacramento County and City limit sign. Stevenson recently finished third in the most recent “Sac State’s Got Talent.” Photo Courtesy of Xzavion Stevenson.

Dylan McNeill

Xzavion Stevenson, 22, grew up as the fourth sibling of six in Sacramento and as a middle child, said he felt as if his voice didn’t matter a whole lot around him. 

With his emotion needing to be let out, he resorted to writing out his feelings through music. 

Stevenson, a Sacramento State communications major, started drawing his own album covers at 10 and started making music in 8th grade, using music as a creative outlet ever since. 

Stevenson released his debut EP “Just Live” in 2018, and has continued to drop songs on his SoundCloud. He said he plans on releasing new music soon and recently took third place in the Sac State virtual talent show.

Now over eight months into the pandemic, Stevenson said he has still been making music in his home studio. He said he had to balance “survival mode versus creative mode” during the pandemic, even though the situation has given him more material to write about.

Stevenson said his creative process remains the same: before he starts working on a song, he stops for about five minutes of meditation and says a prayer, then gets to work.

“I close my eyes and pace through whichever room I’m in and try to catch the beat, vibe to it, playing with melodies and see what comes about,” Stevenson said, adding that once he finds something that excites him, he sits down and works on the rest of the song.

His musical inspirations include 50 Cent, Tupac Shakur, Kendrick Lamar, E-40 and the late Nipsey Hussle, who he said he admired for both his music and work done in the community before his death. Stevenson said he wants to be someone who can have an impact even outside of music.

Stevenson said the city of Sacramento itself has impacted almost everything to do with his music. He said he views Sacramento as a middle ground between Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

“[It’s] a great place to build a foundation,” Stevenson said. “There’s a very warm and homey feel that Sacramento has to offer.”

Stevenson also said that the “gangbanging and the violence” from his peers has helped shape him into the artist he is. He has written songs about these types of experiences such as “Made Me Do It,” a tribute to 17-year-old Jaulon “J.J.” Clavo, who was shot and killed in Sacramento in 2015

“These people I hung out with and I saw how they manifested their destiny,” Stevenson said. “From being around these things and seeing them, through first and second-hand, I can tell the story from my perspective.”

Javion Moore, 22, said he started making music with Stevenson back in 2010 while the two were still in middle school. 

Moore said that his late mother always said, “I don’t know how he fit that big voice into that little body,” when speaking of Stevenson. 

Moore said that he always knew that Stevenson was different and described him as a “once in a lifetime person.” 

As a Sac State student, Stevenson said he has made “organic friendships” through classes and being on campus, and performing on campus allowed him to show off his talent to people who know him as a peer rather than as an artist. 

Janaya Hunt, a friend of Stevenson who has known him since he started making music, said she feels honored and proud of his growth as a musician. 

“He makes music I can show my family,” Hunt said of Stevenson and referred to him as “community-orientated.”

Stevenson said one of his goals for the future is to build his credibility. 

“I want to be somebody who built my own credibility from learning information and mastering myself,” Stevenson said. “And being able to reach as many people as possible with my message and being able to positively affect people’s lives.”