Lil Xan has developed a winning formula by creating emotional songs where he mumbles his way through bass-heavy beats while proclaiming his love for drugs. Born Diego Leanos and hailing from Redlands, Calif., the “Wake Up” lyricist turned his young adult angst into a bustling rap career, complete with a chart-topping debut album, Total Xanarchy, and legions of fans who are enchanted by the insurgent of moody and somber rap music. However, with a hip-hop moniker that’s an obvious nod to the anti-anxiety medication Zanax, Lil Xan can thank his penchant for fetishizing drug culture for his meteoric rise to stardom.
The rapper’s rags-to-riches life story is one to be admired, but his foot-in-mouth syndrome during candid interviews has caused him to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. Whether you’re a fan of the SoundCloud wave of music, or you simply detest the influx of rappers with the same cookie-cutter image — right down to their face tattoos and gold grills — there’s no denying that Lil Xan is a formidable force to be reckoned with.
So how did a kid who grew up “loving symphonies” get crowned the emo-rap prince? Let’s find out as we explore the untold truth of Lil Xan.
How hard is it to fail gym class? All one has to do is show up, throw on some sweatpants, and run a few laps around the track in order to get a passing grade, right? Well, if you’re Lil Xan, P.E. was apparently a struggle. But he didn’t only fail gym class — he failed all of his high school courses, as he preferred to doodle and play video games instead of doing his homework, according to Billboard.
He told the No Jumper podcast, “They’re like, ‘How the f**k you fail P.E., that s**t easy, bro.’ I’m a lazy son of a b***h.” He also revealed he wound up failing every class he had up until he “dropped out freshman year.”
Being cooped up in a classroom just wasn’t his style. “I just cannot sit down for seven hours a day and listen to some old b***h just talk about s**t I ain’t ever gonna need,” he said. His song “F**k My Teachers” is starting to make a lot more sense, isn’t it?
Thankfully for Lil Xan, his lack of a formal education didn’t hinder his ascension on the music charts. Although success seemingly fell into his lap overnight, it took him some time to embrace rap music as a legit career path.
Long before his January 2018 surge to the no. 5 spot on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart, Lil Xan was making ends meet with a series of odd jobs, including a gig as a street sweeper in which he got paid about $8 an hour and had to work around 11 hours per day.
He also worked as a freelance photographer, which was his first passion in life. While speaking with DJ Smallz Eyes, the “Betrayed” MC said his first camera had a price tag of $2,000 and was a present from his parents, but it wouldn’t remain in his possession for long. “At one of my homey’s shows … I put my camera down by the DJ booth and someone unfortunately stole it,” he said during the interview.
With his beloved camera missing in action, he decided to experiment with rap music. Since most of his friends were rappers, he figured he “might as well try” to give it a go, as well. He went into the recording studio, laid down his vocals, and gave his friends $20 to mix the track to perfection. The rapper, who Billboard described as a “shy kid,” admitted, “Rapping was a joke, but the music helped me break out of my shell.”