Damian Ardestani , better known as XOV, is a new independent singer/songwriter straight out of Stockholm, Sweden. XOV is an Iranian, Swedish rapper turned pop singer. The artist has been through many struggles in his life and hasn’t had it easy. From a young age, he was running with gangs, having ruthless bloody fights, and eventually losing businesses, family, friends and lovers. Growing up as an immigrant in another country was not easy for the Swedish singer. His parents escaped from Iran and fled to Sweden when he was one. Joining gangs and losing his teeth, he began rapping and becoming an angry Swedish gangster rapper. He realized things were getting too tough and left it all at sixteen. Music has always been the singers saving grace and what has brought out of all his demons and has helped him face the skeletons in his closet. Now XOV has released his debut album, Wild on Universal Music.
XOV was honed the protege of Lorde, and was hand picked by the singer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack. MTV has described his sound of being a mix between Robyn, James Blake and The Weeknd. Now finally being on his own and following the release of his Lucifer EP, released in January, he brings you his full body of work entitled, “Wild” .
Kicking off the album with the song, “Lucifer,” a chilling track packed with raw lyrics, makes you question your religion. “I used to kick it with Lucifer” the singer croons . XOV explains his life metaphorically as a child dealing with his demons in the song Lucifer and exposes his anger and aggression of his past. At the end of “Lucifer,” XOV forewarns the listener that Lucifer still lingers in the dark and you better watch out. XOV doesn’t stop there with the satanic lyricism, the next track “Blood Honey” is a song about getting even. The singer claims he wants their blood and will stop at nothing to claim his vengeance. His lover broke the code of honor and he wants to take back what he deserves.
Next is Animal, the track that is also featured on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack. The song follows the mood of the first two tracks, which is the dark pop sound very reminiscent of The Weeknd and Lorde, production wise. The singers first offering from the album Wild is, “Boys Don’t Cry,” which is one of my favorite tracks from the album. The song contains 80’s kick drums and a synth-pop sound that feels like a Prince record for the modern day. The singer exposes a different side and shows that love hurts. XOV’s song exclaims that he is “like AK47 with words,” but he doesn’t want his lover to see his emotional side and has to man up. The singer shows vulnerability on this track and other tracks like, “Black Ocean” “Chaos” and “Ghost”. Reflecting on lost love and love that hurt him badly, the singer takes you on his emotional roller coaster, but this is a ride you don’t mind being on. Hearing his struggle and his past, you can relate to his metaphors and strategic placement of his songs. The title track, “Wild” is a stand out track, with the singer letting the listener know that he is a free. In the chorus he sings, “Darling I’m a free child. My momma raised me in the wild.” XOV incorporates lion roars and sound effects in his production that draws you into his world.
The rest of the album finishes up with songs, “Money” which many can relate to. The singer believes, “i’ll never, ever change. But money got me trippin, to money, i’m a slave.” The song is placed with a 90’s hip-hop street production. Closing the album with “Guns and Ammunition“, he references being a rebel and that he is the enemy of the state. After listening to Wild in its entirety, the music all comes together. You are inside XOV’s mind. His dark mind connects with his story of growing up and having a rough upbringing. XOV is a wild heart, he is a rebel, he is a lover, a creator, an artist, he is human. Finding himself, even as he is going through personal battles, XOV gives a body of work that any artist or anyone who has a heart can appreciate. Sonically many songs sound similar, but the album is very cohesive and has a deeper message. Hoping to see more of XOV and see his growth musically in the future.