Who: “I’m just a man on a mission trying to make a difference.” The LA-born rapper/songwriter moved to Las Vegas two years ago. While he’s relatively new to the city’s ever-evolving hip-hop scene, he’s already making waves, from performing at dozens of open mic-nights, to headlining a show at Bunkhouse backed by a full band.
Sound: Positive hip-hop with the aim to relate, connect and inspire. Xavier’s flow and cadence are reminiscent of Black Star-era Talib Kweli, and they seamlessly float above laid-back instrumentals begging to be played by a live band. Speaking of which, Xavier’s current crew consists of scene heavyweights like guitarist Camden West and members of Cameron Calloway’s band.
Spin: “I Gotta Go.” It’s Xavier’s version of a ballad about persevering after a failed relationship, and features just his voice over a piano. “I used to drive for Uber and Lyft in Los Angeles, and I’d always play my music for people,” he says. “I’d catch some people crying real tears on the rides. That’s when I knew I had a purpose—a mission to get these songs out there.”
Influences: Some, such as Nas, Tupac and Guru from Gang Starr are on his sleeve, but it goes beyond that. “Jack Johnson is one of my favorite songwriters. His lyrics are simple, yet profound. I want to be like that.”
Future plans: Lots of new music. “I could put out a song a month over the next year and still have enough material for an album,” he says. Beyond that, expect another headlining show sometime this summer.
Mike Xavier with Halsey Harkins, Olan, Cameron Dettman, Jessica Manalo. May 12, 7 p.m., $10. Bunkhouse Saloon, 702-982-1764. Listen to Xavier here.