Diego Leanos, aka Lil Xan, is on the wild come up. Born September 6th 1996, Lil Xan grew up in Redlands California and his road into the rap game is a little different than your average rapper.
Initially Lil Xan dropped out of high school during his freshman year to become a professional Call of Duty player. As he was in the midst of his career as a gamer, he picked up photography.
He would shoot for friends of his and take pictures at their shows, until one day at a friend’s concert, his camera was stolen off of the DJ booth. It was at this point that he made one of the biggest decisions of his life: either spend money on a new camera, or save some bread and get into rapping.
Lil Xan goes into more detail during an interview with XXL Mag saying,
“I went to a show with my camera and it got stolen and I was devastated because I was trying to be this next upcoming photographer. Someone swiped my camera behind the DJ booth. I took my loss and said screw it.
“The camera was $1200 but it’s only $20 dollars to make music, to record. So I just went with recording [music]. All my friends were rappers so I just thought I might as well take a shot at it.”
Diego hasn’t turned back since, and is now becoming one of the quickest viral SoundCloud rappers in the game.
Ironically, Lil Xan wasn’t very big on rap when he was growing up, he was actually into alternative rock. He continued telling XXL,
“I grew up listening to a lot of grunge and alternative rock, Artic Monkey, Queens of the Stone Age, Black Flag, Smashing Pumpkins and all that good stuff.”
It wasn’t until he watched an A$AP Rocky music video that he became interested in rap.
Lil Xan went on to become part of a rap group called Low Gang, which ended up fizzling out, and then him and a few other members of the group went on to create a group called Xanarchy. One of the co-members of the group is $teve Cannon.
The name for the collective is just a snarky play on Xanax, which is a drug that Diego had an affinity for at the time.
This brings me to the irony of his rap name, Lil Xan. Lil Xan is actually anti-xan, and in many interviews he talks about how people should not do Xanax, preaching about the dangers of the drug.
So… then why the name Lil Xan?
It turns out that for a short span of his life, which coincided with the inception of his rap career, that he generated an addiction to Xanax.
He talks about this part of his life in an interview with DJ Booth,
“‘I was painfully addicted to Xans for, like, two years of my life.”
This was a very severe addiction as he goes on to talk about how he had to be hospitalized for drug related kidney and liver failure. In the interview he explains,
“I definitely learned that lesson after ending up in the hospital from withdrawing”
Since this drug stint, Lil Xan has taken a stand against Xanax. He brings it up in one of his most popular songs “Betrayed”; the chorus is just Diego saying “Xans don’t make you, Xans gon’ take you, Xans gon’ fake you, Xans gon’ betray you.”
Lil Xan is trying to emphasize the point that Xanax is a dangerous drug that looks appealing based off of the new hip-hop artist following it has generated, although it is highly addictive and detrimental to your body.
I think Lil Xan as an artist is someone that everyone can, and should, get behind. From one-time addict to up and coming rapper, we can all learn a thing or two from Diego Leanos.
Addiction is a serious thing, but anyone can make it out, as long as you want to get better.