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Ken Carson

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Atlanta’s Ken Carson may be at the forefront of a uniquely glitchy and mosh-pit-friendly sound in hip-hop, but at the tender age of 19, he’s somehow already spent plenty of time studying his city’s most impactful voices—and then also imagining himself in their shoes. “I used to hang out with TM88 and Southside all the time, so you [didn’t] know who was gon walk in the studio,” Carson told Zane Lowe in conversation ahead of the release of his album X. “But I was just the youngest guy in the room, so it’s like nobody really paying attention. Literally, every beat that I was listening to—in my head, I’m going crazy to it.” Fast-forward some five years, and Carson is going crazy to just about any beat of his choosing following the success of his Teen X EP series and 2021 album, Project X. Of his Interscope debut, which features production from names like Gab3, Gl1tch, Outtatown, Rok, Star Boy, and ssort, Carson points out that fans are getting the most dialed-in version of his aesthetic yet. “My fans know that I’m big on the ‘X’ thing,” he says. “This one is just X, so the title says a lot for itself. I feel like I didn’t get the most experimental—if anything, I was just trying to treat the ear.” Carson, who points to Future and Young Thug as his most immediate stylistic influences, chose fellow Opium signees Destroy Lonely and Homixide Gang as the album’s featured guests. But it’s his Opium label boss, Playboi Carti, whose influence not only reigns supreme, but whose support means the absolute most. “I been watching Carti do this for a long time,” Carson says. “So, for me to be doing it, too, it’s just a blessing. It’s like automatically insane. He tell me every day, ‘Bro, I’m proud of you.’ This shit crazy.”

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