On Being a 2011 XXL Freshman: “[Getting labeled an XXL Freshman] is, like, a dream come true. But [at the same time] it’s definitely the start of the next step, because it’s, like, you’ve worked to get to this point, and then you get there, now it’s time to really go—all eyes are on me. [Now it’s time to] just not slow down and not get comfortable. I feel like one thing that has brought me to where I am now is my work ethic, so if I pick up the work, instead of slow it down, then I’ll be fine. It’s crazy, and it’s wild to me that I’m here, and that I’m comfortable being here. You would think, back in the day, like, I’d be nervous and sitting in the corner, but no, man, I’m comfortable, and it’s great to be having fun doing this, and not feel like you’ve gotta look cool.
[The XXL Freshmen shoot] was crazy. It was a lot cooler than I expected. I expected to go there and be super nervous the whole time and be worried about stuff. I expected everybody to be doing their own thing and [to] not really [be] cool with each other, but everybody was really cool. It was a great experience, everyone was real nice, and it was fun. It wasn’t until after I left that I was like, ‘Damn that was just the XXL Freshmen cover shoot.’ That’s something I’ve strived for since [I] started doing it and it’s crazy that I’m actually on it.
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Being a XXL Freshman [means] people know that I’m not a nobody, that I’m doing something right and that also opens a lot of doors to work with other artists, new up-and-comers and dudes that have been in the game for a minute. People are going to see me on this cover and say I wonder what he’s about, let me check him out. And then it’s more opportunities to work with people based on the fact that I’ve reached that point and someone can be like well he’s doing something because he’s on the XXL cover.
[Now] it’s time to completely turn up everything else. I feel like the worst thing I could do is be like now [that] I got the cover, I can just chill and let all the good stuff come [to me]. But it’s more like now if I take some days off I lose; I’ve got to be more focused than ever.
My overall goal is to be able to speak and connect with the world. It’s a pretty big goal to set for myself, but with what I’m seeing right now and the path that I’m going on, I think that I can do it because I have experience with all different backgrounds and genres of music. I’m trying to have it where your straight trap dudes are listening to [my] music, as well as your straight hip-hop heads and people who listen to the Beatles, and Led Zeppelin, and the Sex Pistols.
I just want to show people that music can really connect the world and because I feel that is one of the only things right now that can do it. That’s something that’s really hard to do, because everyone feels that they’re so different from each other because of where they came up from or what they do on a day-to-day basis. I’m just trying to show people that everybody can be cool with each other, whether you’re a straight O.G. hustler or whether you’re a trust fund baby, it doesn’t matter, everyone can still connect on some type of level.
I think my biggest hurdle in achieving this goal is to get people to listen, not just hear, but listen to everything I do, because that’s the only way your going to get my message. You’re not going to understand what I’m about by just listening to one song; that’s not how I function. I don’t function where I have a lane; where I keep putting out the same records and you know what I’m about. You’ve gotta listen to everything I do, because everybody has different days. There’s some days where I wake up and I am like, ‘This life is fucking crazy and awesome and I love it, I’m so happy right now so I’m going to make a happy ass song.’ Then there’s days where I wake up and I’m like, ‘Fuck man this is some bullshit I see happening in the world right now and I want to write about that.’”