Album Review: Still Dreaming by Mike Xavier

Mike Xavier released his third album at the beginning of this year, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect to match Still Dreaming’s overall theme. A new year brings about reinvigorated goals and a desire to improve, and Xavier seeks to inspire his listeners with a positive message of believing in yourself and to never stop pursuing your dreams. 

Still Dreaming embodies Xavier’s beliefs at his core. He is a pillar of unrelenting enthusiasm for success, rapping about overcoming struggles and never losing sight of his confidence in himself. “When I think of how I was at rock bottom just a few years ago, it makes me feel so grateful that I never gave up. … I want this project to be a reminder of how it’s never too late in life to be a dreamer,” he said to Las Vegas Weekly. “My dreams have become my reality more and more over the years, and this album is a reflection of that.”      

 

 

A good opening shows a preview of what’s to come, and the first track of Still Dreaming does exactly that. “Life” exemplifies not only Xavier’s drive for success and unshaken focus but how he strives to pass on his wisdom to others facing similar struggles in their own lives. This is a track that inspires like a motivational speech. 

Xavier eloquently tells his story of overcoming his humble beginnings, but no matter how challenging things got for him, he continued to follow his passions. His admirable hustle has taught him many lessons along the way, like that failure is just part of the journey and nothing to shy away from. He says, “See I’m not afraid to fail that’s why I keep on winning / You let that fear run your life and you’ll be paralyzed / How you expecting to advance if you don’t ever try / Everybody got some secrets that they’re trying to hide.”

 

 

“Open Letter” is just that, a sentimentally touching message to an old friend. We all have relationships in our life that fizzle out for whatever reason – life gets in the way or personal growth causes each person to drift apart. Here, Xavier raps about when our loved ones face mental health struggles and seemingly check out of our lives. He approaches this issue in a strikingly forgiving manner. He says, “I know that you were stressed and you probably couldn’t take it / I don’t judge you for it / We’re all sinners we could use a little help.” Instead of taking his friend’s distance personally, Xavier shows true empathy and compassion, letting him know that he’ll be here whenever he needs a companion. 

 

 

“Crown” opens up with a clip from President Barack Obama’s first-ever back to school speech, given in 2009. President Obama speaks to American youth about the importance of education and how to overcome disadvantages. He says, “There is no excuse for not trying. Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up.”

Xavier asks his listeners to examine themselves on a critical level and to truly evaluate if they’re where they want to be in life, but his unstoppable positivity reassures us that we can be or do anything we desire. We all have crowns that we adorn, which translates to our individual passions that no one can take away from us.

This positivity extends to the important message of accomplishing goals, and that’s to not get trapped by comparing yourself to others. Xavier says, “Meanwhile, I’m on a mission / Staring at the man that’s in the mirror saying you’re my only competition.” He reinstates that the only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday. 

As someone who has faced many obstacles on the road to prosperity, Xavier has encountered less than stellar experiences with people that envy him. Xavier uses his track “Meditate” to discuss the dangers of resenting those that have what you don’t. He says, “I learned success was a recipe for jealousy… But hate will never let you love yourself the way you should / To sit and envy someone else will never do you good.”

 

 

While Xavier is one of the fastest rising artists in Las Vegas, he’s still going after his goals and striving to be even better. The album’s namesake track “Still Dreaming” examines the importance of continuing the hustle beyond your 20s and 30s. Xavier says, “Thank God I’m still dreaming,” as a form of gratitude to himself for not allowing his dreams to fade away. 

The outro for Still Dreaming contains no rhymes or poetry. It’s an excerpt from a speech given by Les Brown, layered over slow piano notes and jazzy horns. Brown is an author and motivational speaker who has dedicated his life to inspiring others to pursue their dreams, no matter the difficulty. 

Having reached a point of rock bottom, Brown discusses how he was trying to run his business and still continuing to motivate others to do the same while being homeless. Under the pressure of hard times, he had no choice but to live in his office. Security had to intervene in the situation, but Brown persisted, telling himself and the people trying to evict him that this wasn’t a permanent situation. “Right now, things are bad for me, but they’re not going to be this way always,” Brown said. “I’m not trying to make this my home.”

Brown persevered through the judgment of others, who ridiculed him for being down on his luck and still believing in himself. The message of positivity and strength in the face of adversity has been a constant theme throughout Still Dreaming. The album ends on this note, tied off nicely with a bow. Brown says, “For those of you that have experienced some hardships, don’t give up on your dream.” 

 

 

Mike Xavier will be performing at Freak the Beat in Las Vegas on Saturday, October 26. Other artists on the lineup include Mr. Carmack, Andre Power, and THEY. You can purchase tickets here

- Written by Mallika Pal