Xavier Barnett might be the first local rapper whose bars are as fluid as his backstroke.
During the summer, the Anaheim MC dubbed Kid X is a swim instructor at the YMCA on top of his job as a youth mentor with the city of Anaheim. The 23-year-old is also a volunteer for AbilityFirst, an organization that provides swimming lessons for individuals with special needs.
"I fell in love with it," Barnett says. "I used to work with kids who weren't comfortable with the water. . . . We call them tiny tots. I like working with them because it's more of a challenge to get them to swim, and it's more rewarding when you get them in the water."
As with learning to swim, his hip-hop aspirations require dedication and an ability to keep his head above water. Growing up on Anaheim's west side, Barnett and his brother would hang around with gangbangers. At a certain point, they realized that if they didn't separate themselves from that crowd, they risked ending up in jail or the morgue. His parents split up when he was young, and his family suffered some severe health problems. His brother barely survived kidney failure, and his father's diabetes cost him a loss of vision and the amputation of both his big toes.
Despite these major ordeals, Barnett maintains a positive outlook on life. Instead of falling prey to the streets, he enrolled at Cypress College to get his diploma. "I'm putting myself out there instead of expecting things to come to me," Barnett says. "Because of the nature of what I do, things aren't going to come easy, and you have to work for it."
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His experiences in the seedy parts of Anaheim as a kid have also inspired his Kid X alter ego. Though he started making music when he was 14, Barnett is only now seeing his work pay off. Alongside fellow Anaheim rappers A.E. and Young $kywalker, the trio has emerged as the Halo City Native$.
Barnett never rhymes about selling drugs or other bling-heavy hip-hop tropes that seem foreign to him. His sharply focused words draw upon his many endeavors on and off the mic. His debut album, Multiple Personality Disorder (out this October), features his brother Sean (a.k.a. Yung Proof), the Halo City Native$, and such local talent as Scott Sesui, Jay Scott and Animus.
Barnett knows how difficult it is to get his music heard. But whether it's making progress in the pool or in the recording booth, success only comes when he's able to dive in head-first. "I make time for my own dreams and aspirations," says Kid X, who usually works on his rhymes from around midnight to 3 a.m. "I love helping the community, and I love everything that I get to do for the YMCA and the district. But I want to follow my own dreams, and I know that takes sacrifice, so that's what I do."