“I didn’t want to be a ‘Lil’ something,” TheHxliday (Noah Malik Lee) said, when asked about his rapper name. “Of my brothers, I’ve always been the festive one and my nickname was just Holiday,” adding, “A lot of people ask ‘did you get inspiration from The Weeknd?’ but I just didn’t want to be a ‘Lil Holiday.’ I wanted to be TheHxliday.”
The Weeknd isn’t the only artist people have compared TheHxliday to. According to Vocalo, TheHxliday, signed to Motown Records, is “often touted as the love child of The Weeknd, Swae Lee and Jaden Smith.” TheHxliday’s music, including his first Motown EP “Batbxy,” released on New Year’s, and discusses themes like mental health and substance use, similar to artists Juice Wrld and xxxtentacion.
“[These themes] are important because kids listen to you so if you’re able to spread the message, it can possibly change how they grow into the next generation,” he said. “We as influencers have to talk about things that are going to catch the ear and allow them to realize certain things are bad for you.”
These messages and other personal experiences guide TheHxliday’s music. This is evident in the growth of his music ever since his first releases at the age of 16. “I was treating stuff like puppy love [because] I was 16,” he said. “I was cut off from everything else, focusing on just music and stuck on a mindset of being just me.”
“Batbxy” shows TheHxliday’s range, from melancholy songs like “Bad,” to bass-heavy songs like “NxBody.” “I [dove] deeper into the specifics of how I actually feel [in this album],” he explained. “Before that, I was just telling younger stories. I’m 19 now, so I have more experience than 16-year-old Hxliday dropping music.”
As he matures, TheHxliday is interested in trying R&B music with more explicit lyrics, but says he’s “going to wait for 21-year-old Hxliday.”
“‘[Batbxy]’ is a teaser, in a way, of what you’ll see from me in the future and what kind of vibe you’ll feel from me this year. ‘Bad’ is something different, so you know you can get a pop chart from me. You can get something catchy from me, like ‘Laugh a Little,’” he said. “I’m not going to drop what you expect, ever.”
Though his music is unpredictable, his release dates are not. “A hxliday is coming up 🎄 so you know what that means 👀,” he tweeted on Dec. 13, 2020, 12 days ahead of the release of his new single “Laugh A Little” and its accompanying music video.
Other holiday releases have included “Island Vibes Vol. 2” on July 4, 2018, “Broken Halls” on New Year’s last year (later re-released on Sep. 25, 2020 for Motown) and “Thank U” the day after Thanksgiving last year.
“Right now, [my favorite holiday is] Christmas because of the family vibes. It’s a mix between Thanksgiving and Christmas, that time period and the food,” TheHxliday said. “But I did love Halloween growing up. That’s why I made ‘Batbxy.’ Then over time, Christmas was really the vibe, so I dropped [‘Batbxy’] on New Year’s.”
“Even though ‘Batbxy’ was meant for Halloween, it was a symbol of who I was,” he continued. Although he had come up with the idea last June, announcing it in a tweet to his more than 8,000 followers as “BATBOY – the ep,” he likes how the New Year’s drop symbolizes a new voice for him, announcing the official drop on Dec. 14, 2020, tweeting “BATBOY 1/1/21.”
These consistent updates have built a unique relationship with his followers. “The way me and my fans are is crazy,” he said. “We have group chats all the time.”
These interactions and emphasis on community extend to Baltimore, where he grew up. “I want to give back, helping, later on in my career, with funding for schools,” he said, citing population growth in Maryland and increasing classroom sizes.
Although TheHxliday grew up in Baltimore, he has actually spent much of quarantine in Chicago, where he has a studio. “I’ve just been locked up in the studio pretty much everyday, just making mad songs, day in and day out.”
That work has paid off. According to a November 2020 tweet, TheHxliday has created more than 1,200 songs. With such a large “vault” of music, he struggles with choosing which songs to release and when. “[My team and I] all have favorite songs,” he said. “If it’s an eight-song tape, I choose at least 14 songs and I take away songs slowly.”
Watch out for a few of these songs in “The Most Beautiful Disaster,” an album expected to drop on a holiday, in an on-brand fashion.