NATIVE Exclusive: Trill Xoe Is Always Expanding His Artistry

the NATIVE Records A&R talks co-producing "Declan Rice," his creative process and journey into music

“Trillo tell me say na NATIVE be the matter,” raps the mercurial ODUMODUBVLCK in what is currently the hottest song in the country. That makes the mentioned figure one of the most sought-after people on the internet, where the song is dominating every post and status, its instantly catchy beat in swaggering symmetry with the quotable-laden bars of the rapper. When Trill and I connected on Zoom some days ago, we immediately got to the Declan-sized elephant in the room. 

“It’s just crazy to see everyone’s reaction,” says Trill who co-produced the record and is professionally known as Trill Xoe. “I was just literally watching a video of Tony Elumelu listening to it and I’m like ‘wow’.”

A billionaire who’s one of the richest men in Africa, Elemelu’s endorsement follows a long list of celebrity mentions: from Wizkid to Adekunle Gold, Timaya, and the West Ham captain himself Declan Rice, the Trill Xöe beat has been heard just about everywhere. Having a glossy finish without losing its gritty appeal, the production perfectly aligns with the song’s vision—a treatise on self-confidence which sounds the part. With ODUMODU’s mention of his friends and crew members, “Declan Rice” sparkles with boisterous communal energy. 


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This was initially achieved through the creative process, Trill Xöe tells the NATIVE. “I have to shout out 44db,” he says, referencing a producer collective he’s part of. “John Wav—he’s a part of 44db, he’s a frequent collaborator with me—he sent me the pack when I was in Ghana cos I asked him for that, to send me zips to work on, cos that’s how we normally work. So he just sent me the beat and I heard the first twenty seconds and I was like yo, this is crazy.” 

With that grand vision set, Trill Xöe knew the beat had to go somewhere else, and he got people in. “One guy called OTB—shoutout OTB—he did some drums that were fire and John added melodies,” he says. “I heard it, the full beat he sent and I wasn’t feeling all the melodies so I told him to send me the zip so I could touch it up. Then ODUMODUBLVCK just pulled up and he heard it and was like, ‘Chill. This is it’.”

Everything was in alignment: it was their first day in Ghana for a recording camp and he was just setting up his gear when the song came together. The gunshot sounds being ODUMODU’s idea, the Native Records rapper sent it to UC who produced “Dog Eat Dog”, and kept a steady creative rapport with the artist. “He felt like something was missing,” Trill recalls, “and UC now added that string base that you hear (mimes the sound) and a flute. There was already a flute in the beat but this flute was a bit different. And you know, that’s how the magic was made.”

Collaboration has always been a part of Trill’s sonic philosophy. As early as 2018, he was thinking through a curator’s lens, bringing artists together in songs he produced. That year saw the release of ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears,’ a sort of manifesto which underlined his resolve to dig beneath the field of popular music. Featuring a host of rappers like Psycho YP, Barelyanyhook and Zilla Oaks, the EP however swirled with delicate touches, revealing Trill Xoe’s mastery over his wide-ranging genres. 

In 2016, Trill Xoe had left for the island country of Mauritius for his university education, and while there getting involved in the music ecosystem. “I was just going through a lot mentally,” he says about the period, “because I was trying to balance school and putting myself out there through music. It was sort of my dissertation cos I wanted to show the world what I was working on. And you know it was that period when SoundCloud was hot; so this is me out here, seventeen years old in Mauritius, just saying you know what? I’ll just release this”. 

Surprisingly, he barely met any of the artists in person during the creative process. “At that point, the only person I met in person was Rilwan,” he explains, “because we went to school together. But YP, Tonero, I never met them in person,” he says with a laugh. “I’m a perfectionist, I pay attention to every detail,” says Trillo when I ask about his involvement in a recording session. “Down to the writing, I try my best to just direct the artist in where I was going with the beat. Cos I really love synergy; let’s say I’m making a beat from scratch, I want to be on the same page as the artist.” 

We wind off an anecdote about Sarz grouping producers as either musicians or beatmakers, depending on their levels of interaction with the complete creative process. Trill Xoe then mentions the legendary producer as one of his inspirations and I ask who else belongs on that podium. “A lot, I can’t lie,” he says. “Firstly, everyone in 44dB, RZA, Kanye, Metro, who else? Kabza—ah mehn, Kabza is crazy. So these are just based off listening from when I started to where I am right now; Adey, Sarz, they’re a lot.” 

Music being part of his everyday existence, it’s no surprise how deep Trill Xoe’s interest runs. He remembers being a stubborn kid and always getting in trouble. “Funny enough, my first introduction to music was in church; I used to be a drummer,” he reveals. “Even before then, I used to always—we used to have this big cupboard that was like a drum, so I’d get pencils and just be tapping on it. I was making different noises but to me it was fun sha”. 

He was in church for about five years before he went to boarding school. In senior secondary school, he became more immersed in the modern adaptation of use. Using laptops within the school was then newly approved and a senior whose name was Olu (who was also a DJ) had FL Studio which Trillo found fascinating. The era of DRB Lasgidi and Joules Da Kid, young people were being increasingly drawn towards creativity. “I was just amazed to see them record these things from scratch,” he recalls. “I got FL from Olu; I think he bought the CD or something cos that was the very old FL. And he gave the CD, gave me all the details. Then I used to make rubbish beats. I realised I wasn’t feeling what I was making”. 

YouTube provided the source material for further research. Spending hours on the platform, he’d watch tutorials to learn the concepts of music-making. Metro Boomin’s ‘Cook Up’ volumes were important for him; more than just techniques of mixing, he also learnt how to handle a studio. He started remaking beats and executing a flawless replication of Chief Keef’s “3Hunna”. “Once I did that,” he says, “I realised I actually do not want to be one of those guys making Type beats on YouTube and from there I just went on a path of self-discovery. Knowing the sounds I like, the tempos I like, the keys I like, sort of acts I like, it just helped me out”. 

Trill Xoe is also a DJ, which is a skill he picked while in Mauritius. Wanting to “hustle for [his] shit,” he was advised by his close friend and manager Julian to meet clubs and event organisers in the area. “At a point, it was like we were the best DJs on the island,” he says. “I remember Davido came, Mayorkun came, Falz came, Kiddominant came—it was just something like ‘yeah, I can actually do something with DJing’. Anything music, you can catch me there”. 

Last year, Trillo announced that he had signed on to NATIVE Records as an A&R. Bringing his wealth of technical mastery and industry knowledge, it’s an alignment of values as the urban cultural platform has always been big on spotlighting the best talents, regardless of where they are. Currently home to ODUMODUBLVCK and Smada, it’s a movement with every potential to define the soundscape of this particular generation. 

“Shoutout Teezee, shoutout Chubbz, shoutout Sholz,” he says with an air of genuine appreciation. “It’s crazy, I just feel like they just believed in me and we’re here for talent. You know how they say producers are the best A&Rs and they took the risk on me and you know, hopefully it’s paying off. We have the number one song in the country right now. So shout out everyone at NATIVE Records.” 

On an individual level, Trill Xoe has got some things planned for the year. “This year is looking fresh,” he says excitedly. “So this is going to be an exclusive, I’m dropping my first project since [‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’]. The project comes April 21st, first single April 14th. The single features Azanti and one of the young boys I discovered, his name is Maji and the project is the first time I’m rapping on like two songs. It’s a six track EP. I’ve been working on this like 2019; can’t wait for it to come out. It’s called ‘Lucent’. It means glowing with light.”

Featured image credits/NATIVE