Let Em Know: Byron Messia
Interview: Aleia Woods
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the Winter 2023 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Byron Messia is a self-described “dance-soul” artist, a title that spawns from today’s dancehall reggae sound. His growing popularity includes cosigns from some hip-hop heavy hitters like Drake, Cardi B and Lil Durk. Messia also recently hit the studio with Lil Baby. A longtime hip-hop fan, Messia spoke with XXL about his love for the music.

XXL: What inspires you musically?

Byron Messia: It all depends on what mood I’m in or what mood the beat draws my attention whenever I’m listening to beats. It doesn’t always get to be like that, though, because, I mean, look at what we did with [my hit single] “Talibans.” [The] beat does not sound grimy at all, but we took that approach with it. Sometimes, it’s just I love to be creative and try different stuff as well. I’m still making music and still trying to figure out what direction I want to go into. I’m tryna merge over into the rap world a bit, do a big collaboration. Do a big collaboration with artists from all over the world at this point. Not just rap music, but every genre that is.

You brought out Lola Brooke and Fridayy at your SOBs show in NYC. You’ve linked up with Meek Mill and Rod Wave. Lil Baby was even seen vibing to “Talibans” at the club. Can you explain your connection to hip-hop and how it influences you?

The first song that I ever re-corded was actually a rap track. When I was growing up, that’s all I used to hear, basically, a lot of rap music. It definitely plays a big part in my music. [The first rap song I wrote] was entitled “Thotiana.”

You have said some of your rap influences are Nas, Slick Rick and Young Thug.

And The Notorious B.I.G.

Hip-hop turned 50 years old in August. What are your thoughts on this genre that has inspired you?

I just want to congratulate them. Congratulations to hip-hop making 50 years. That’s a long run, like a long run for 50 years. And it has evolved, too, over time. There’s the antiquated side of hip-hop, and then they got the new generation of hip-hop. It’s lovely to be alive to witness it. Terrific.

Is there anybody in hip-hop you really want to collaborate with?

Man, I got everybody in my bag. I don’t know because that’s the thing, too. I don’t force features. You got to be the right feature. We got to have something in common for it to make sense.

Read Byron Messia's interview in the Winter 2023 issue of XXL Magazine, on newsstands now. The new issue also includes the cover story with Latto and conversations with Killer Mike, Flo MilliDD OsamaMaiya The DonMonaleoMello BuckzzSexyy RedBigXThaPlug, plus more. Additionally, there's an exclusive interview with Fetty WapQuality Control Music's Coach K and P discuss 10 years into the label's growth, in-depth stories on the popularity of sampling in hip-hop in 2023 and the state of hip-hop touring, and the best moments of hip-hop's year-long 50th anniversary celebration.

See Photos From Latto's XXL Magazine Winter 2023 Cover Story

More From 107 JAMZ