• Maia Joy

TheHxliday on Authenticity and Vulnerability

TheHxliday, otherwise known as Noah Malik Lee, is a nineteen-year-old rap and hip-hop artist based in Baltimore. He sits over his phone on a patio in Florida, the fading sun glaring a bright white through his camera. Despite the wind and poor internet connection on all ends, he laughs and smiles through the screen, and his energy is palpable from hundreds of miles away.

TheHxliday’s positive vibes are nothing short of infectious, and his music is no different. His EP, Batbxy, was released on January 1 and features six songs with mesmerizing beats and hooks unlike any other artist. His EP is a great example of his “nothing is forever bad vibes'' attitude, each song radiating confidence and positivity for the future.

Batbxy is composed of “sad songs meant for people to relate and vibe to,” discussing relationships, loneliness, authenticity, and vulnerability itself. He cites XXXTentacion, Justin Bieber, Linkin Park, and My Chemical Romance as several of his early influences yet has a sound entirely his own. Each track on the EP is fresh and reveals a different corner of his personality, yet one thing remains the same: each song is distinctly Hxliday.

Although a newer name in the music scene, TheHxliday is no amateur, having produced over 1,000 tracks since he began posting on Soundcloud when he was first getting started nearly six years ago. Growing up outside the city in Perry Hall, MD, with his mother and older brothers, he found an early interest in music from listening to his mother’s band, ChicFlick. “It’s wild,” he says, “She didn’t know she was having me at first--she found out, like, three months in--so she said that she didn’t know she was performing with me, but she knew I was gonna be a musician too.” He laughs and shares, “there’s a video-- a VHS that they found at my house back in Maryland--one of my first shows where somebody called me up when I was 5!”

He also shares that his mother’s work ethic paved the way for his own career. “[Her band] would practice in my basement and all they did was have fun with it. So when I’m recording, I also just have fun and try to make the best out of it.” Although his mother stopped making music to focus on TheHxliday and his two older brothers, he still wants to make her proud. “I’m living her dream,” he says. Of his mother’s music: “It definitely rubbed off on me, big-time.”

TheHxliday found his own voice in seventh grade, when he was the only member of his choir that offered to take the solo. “After that,” he says, “I couldn’t stop making music.” And thank goodness he didn’t stop--at only 18, TheHxliday hit every young artist’s jackpot: an offer from Motown Records. “Motown is lit,” he says, smiling. He gushes about the label, the current artists signed with them, and how glad he is he waited to find the best label for him. “I wasn’t in a rush or anything--I just wanted to find something good mentally. Motown definitely provides that kind of energy to me.” He laughs, sharing that he “really just wanted to have fun with it, yknow, just be a kid.”

Despite being only 19, TheHxliday has lofty ambitions for his career and the outreach he hopes to accomplish with his music. As a Baltimore-based artist, he wants to give back to the community that raised him and help to fund schools amid the rising youth population in Maryland. He also hopes that his music can help young people understand more complicated social issues, including mental health, substance use, and more. “Kids are always gonna find their way to this stuff--as influencers, we’ve gotta talk about certain things that are gonna catch their ear and make them realize [they’re] bad for [them] .”

Once the pandemic is over, he has even more big plans--he hopes eventually to collaborate with Drake, Lil Uzi Vert, Paramore, Bruno Mars, and one of his own greatest influences, Justin Bieber. In the meantime, he’s more than happy spending the pandemic just as any other kid would: “PS5!” He laughs, throwing peace signs to the camera. “Actually, PS4. I was just playing Minecraft--the most random game. You gotta have fun on the side.”

You can find TheHxliday’s EP, Batbxy, on all major streaming services, as well as on Ogma’s Spotify.