Salva Seeks Salvation

The XS resident just dropped a rap album—quite the change from his dance-music ascent

Photo by Andy J. Scott

Photo by Andy J. Scott

Getting Tired of the repetitive buildup-and-drop, big-room sounds that dominate the Strip’s super-clubs? Some savvy clubs are catching onto clubbers’ waning attention, and they’re programming accordingly. The lineup at XS’ Movement Sundays has primarily consisted of artists who make club-worthy music, but aren’t afraid to step outside EDM boundaries—artists such as Green Lantern, Slander and Salva, the latter of whom is credited among the dance community as being a contributor to the rise of trap music. He frequently plays festivals alongside rave-culture icons. Recently, though, Salva released Peacemaker, a 13-track rap album he’s offering for free, which his fans might find perplexing. We spoke with Salva about his genre-bending antics in advance of his next XS appearance November 16.

You made your name in the dance-music scene. Why make a change?

The thing that put me on the map a few years ago was my Kanye remix of “Mercy” with RL Grime. That propelled me into the festivals and the big-room clubs in Vegas. I definitely will continue to do stuff like that, but [Peacemaker] makes a statement: I come from hip-hop, and I come from rap. It’s not rappers rapping over house music. It’s my vision of what real rap music should sound like. There are a couple of R&B joints on there, too. It’s a statement piece.

And what’s the goal?

My goal is to get A&R [artists and repertoire representatives] and the big rappers and labels to know about me. A lot of people just know me as “the EDM dude,” so it’s to paint that picture that I come from another side. And [the album has] already done its job in that respect. I worked with a lot of big rappers.

Why are you making the album available for free?

I just wanted as many people to hear it as possible. I put a year into it, linking with Young Thug, E-40, Schoolboy Q—you know, some of the biggest rappers in the world. I didn’t want a label getting in the way. I just want people to hear what I put down.

Why did it take a full year to complete?

What took so long was chasing a lot of these cats who are constantly touring the world. It was worth it, though, because regardless of how successful it is, I’m proud to have done it. Some names are on there that I grew up listening to, and I’m proud of being able to pull it off.

Where can we find the album?

It’s on my SoundCloud page and on all the boutique sites, such as DatPiff, LiveMixtapes, HotNewHipHop—basically anywhere rap heads find their rap music.

What’s the story behind the album name?

One of the first big tracks released was with Young Thug, A$AP Ferg and Freddie Gibbs, called “Old English.” That did really well on a street level. Those three artists are a really unlikely pairing, you know? It’s a rapper from A$AP crew in New York, Young Thug in Atlanta and Freddie Gibbs from Gary [Indiana]. I did another track with Schoolboy Q, Kurupt, Problem and Bad Lucc. [The album’s] like a peacemaker: I’m bringing together artists who shouldn’t be together, styles that shouldn’t be together. Whether it’s rival gangs or rival political outfits, it’s just making peace out of all of the chaos. It’s also a slang term for a Colt revolver, [B-36] bomber and various artillery, so it’s got an explosive quality to it as well.

What was the recording process like?

I wanted to organically make all these relationships. So, save for like one or two verses, I recorded in the studio with all these guys, myself. Nobody was paid. It was just all on the low. I bartered and gave them beats for their records in return.

Photo by Andy J. Scott

Photo by Andy J. Scott

What was the coolest studio experience?

Getting in with Schoolboy Q was cool, because Nicki Minaj was recording next door. It was a star-studded environment. We were in, like, a multimillion dollar studio.

 Will house make peace with rap at your November 16 show?

When I’m at XS, I play all kinds of things; the nights they book me are like their alternative nights. There are big-room house records that I actually like. That wasn’t the case for a while; I thought a lot of that shit was corny. I play a bunch of big records that will set off those fog machines and confetti machines. I’ll play DJ Mustard tracks and YG, and I’ll do a dope half-hour block of just straight rap after an hour-and-a-half of banging out the house.

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