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Athens artist Kxng Blanco poses for a portrait in Athens, Georgia on Sunday, June 14, 2020. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach; @taylormckenzie_photo)

Jeffrey Blakely, more commonly known in the Athens hip-hop scene as Kxng Blanco, started rapping at age 16 and never stopped. After releasing his first album in 2018 and two more in 2019, his newest album is set to release at the end of this week. “SummersOnSarsen,” Blanco’s quarantine passion project, comes out Friday at midnight on all platforms.

The Red & Black spoke to Blanco about the new album, using his music to speak out against police violence and racism, his proudest moment as an artist and what he wants to do next.

The Red & Black: You have a reputation for having incredible live performances. What has it been like not being able to perform to crowds? How did the pandemic impact the creation of your new album, “SummersOnSarsen”?

Kxng Blanco: Man, not performing, in the beginning, was really killing me. It’s one of the ways I get my negative emotions and stuff out of my body. I perform and I lash out on stage, and I don’t need to trip on what I was tripping about before the show. So now I gotta find a different way to cope with the way I be feeling, or moods I be in, and stuff like that. I just had to put it into the music this time.

R&B: You’ve performed songs in the past that reference police violence, something we’ve seen a huge outcry against especially in the last couple of months. How has the movement influenced the album and your music in general?

KB: I didn’t really speak on it that much in this album, but I’ve put out two or three songs just speaking on what’s been going on. It’s crazy because they tried to shake me up when I was a kid about this stuff and it’s still happening. But I’ve definitely been speaking about it in my music because it’s on my mind. I ain’t gonna say I’m desensitized to it, but I’ve been seeing stuff like this for about five or six summers. Police killing Black people for no reason, or just Black people getting killed for no reason. It’s nothing new, but it still hits hard anytime it happens.

R&B: On the new album, you collaborated with several other Athens hip-hop artists. What was it like to work with them?

KB: It’s a vibe with all of them. I have personal relationships with all the artists I featured. I have three features — Drii Gotti, Lil Kell and Squalle. I just got so much respect for those guys, you know, we have a great community. So when we link up together it’s always just a fun time.

R&B: What do you want to do in the future?

KB: I want to be the biggest artist in the world. It might sound far-fetched, but I’m tryna be like the hottest thing poppin’ in a minute. Ain’t nobody made it from here, there’s been so many people that had their shot that get close, like so close, but ain’t nobody really made it. That’s my main goal, is to just break that curse for Athens.

R&B: What are you most excited about releasing the new album?

KB: Really just giving people new music. People tell me I’m a great artist and they love my music and stuff but it’s like, only if you knew what I have in the studio. The way I’ve been doing it, I always put out music but it’s always some limited edition-type junk. My first project had eight songs or something, Skee Yee! had 10 songs and LvrBoy has eight songs. That’s not a lot of music, and I’ve been seeing a whole bunch of artists just pass away out of nowhere. With the music they got out, they didn’t even get to show their talent for real. It kinda shook me a bit, so it’s like I gotta put this out there. This is one of my biggest projects, it has like 18 songs. It’s really just showing more of me, and giving them a newer version of Kxng Blanco.

The Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

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