Wise and XL Hurt strike a connection with ‘Yall Hate, We Luv It’

The Columbus rappers and North Side natives find common ground on their new, six-song EP, out digitally now.
Wise (left) and XL Hurt
Wise (left) and XL HurtCourtesy the artists

As the new collaborative EP between rappers Wise and XL Hurt opens, the latter speaks about emerging into the light “after so much time in the darkness,” his words reflecting the creative renaissance he said he has undergone as of late, which has led to a steady stream of releases following some relatively lean years.

“I’ve got six more projects in the works right now, and three I just released this year,” said Hurt, who joined fellow North Side native Wise for a mid-December Zoom interview. “I don’t want to be 40, 50, 60, 70 years old talking I wish. I didn’t want to feel like I had the chance to do it, but I didn’t do it. … I’m getting older, man. And I just wanted to get everything out of my system, so I can get it done and keep going.”

On Yall Hate, We Luv It, out digitally now, Hurt teams with lyrically aerobic rapper Wise for a half-dozen tracks, the pair bouncing between lusty bedroom jams (“Spotlight”) and standing on business declarations such as “Grown Man,” where the focus shifts from coitus to getting their commas in order. 

Hurt and Wise first connected in 2017 when Hurt asked Wise to guest on a song. “And it was funny, because when he called me, he didn’t ask me to rap on the track, he asked me to sing,” said Wise, who received some of his earliest introductions to music in the church choir. “Up there smelling like Black and Mild” cigars, he added, laughing. 

Indeed, when Wise started to write and record his own music, he said he initially struggled to pick a direction, torn between his love of singing and his budding skills as a rapper. “And when I was coming up, it was still labels telling me I couldn’t rap and sing,” he said. “This was before the Kanyes and the Drakes, and it was like you couldn’t be both, and it was something I struggled with for a long time. But I can’t dance. If I could dance, I’d only be a singer.”

After that initial collaboration, the two stayed in touch, connecting for leisurely writing sessions, gradually amassing more than a dozen tracks before deciding to pair things back to six for this first release (other songs could be released as singles or on a future album, the two said). “We never stopped working. We just kept piecing it together slowly,” Wise said of the writing cadence, which carried on unimpacted through the early stages of the pandemic.

While the two move with common purpose on record, both take different paths to get there. Hurt described himself as a writer at his core, and he said he tries to keep everything organized in the Notes app on his phone, drafting verses, loose concepts and potential song titles as inspiration strikes, sometimes laboring over his word choice and syllable counts.

Wise, in contrast, said he eschews writing altogether, his words taking final shape in that moment when he steps to the mic in the studio. “I have that rush, and my brain just clicks, and the song takes off,” said Wise, who allowed that certain lyrical concepts will percolate in his mind for days or weeks before recording sessions. “But that makes it hard when you go to perform, though, and I really have to listen to my shit, study it, because it’s not like I wrote it and memorized it and recorded it. It’s almost new to me, and I have to remember it all over again.”

Both, however, approach this task with a sense of urgency, Hurt, as he said, writing and recording, in part, as a means to expunge that internal clutter, and Wise motivated by a desire to tell his story more fully. “For me, it’s not like I can get it all out in one song,” he said. “I’ll forever be telling my story.”

“It’s another way of getting your emotions out,” Hurt said. “Men act like they don’t have emotions, or they don’t have the right outlet for it. I believe for both of us, music gives us that outlet. … I can get what I need out. And that makes me feel better because, okay, I’m not the only one in the world who can relate to what I just said.”

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