Truth on Being a 2017 XXL Freshman: “Everything been kinda happening for me, from the tour with Big Sean to ‘Uber Everywhere’ going platinum to everybody wanting to remix my records. I didn’t DM XXL like, I better get it. I wanted it but my fans made me feel even more like, I needed it, like, you need this.

All my fans were mad last year. At the time the XXL Freshman cover came out, I felt like all of those people, even some of those people, I came out before [them]. My music came out, ‘Uber Everywhere’ was everywhere, all of that. I remember doing shows where [Lil] Yachty was at my shows watching me. I remember meeting 21 Savage and 21 Savage had one song out. Dave East remixed ‘Uber Everywhere.’ I was like, How are these people on the cover? I got it though. I’m a fan of Lil Yachty, I’m a fan of 21 Savage. I understood [Lil] Uzi Vert. Mainly, the whole list, I rocked with.

This year, I feel like Kyle should’ve been had it, but his single [‘i Spy’] solidified it. He already had a strong fan base out of everybody and his videos, Kyle is on point. Aminé, seeing his videos, they’re on point. Kamaiyah, she has a song with YG and Drake [‘Why You Always Hatin?’]. And you’re representing the Bay, you’re a female and you’re spitting. Ugly God got more followers than half of these muthafuckas out here. I don’t know exactly what it was that got me on this Freshman cover, but God is good. I always joke, I had a son coming, this blessing, it just happened that way. I couldn’t tell you what it was. God got my back.

It’s God’s work and I also prayed on it. I feel like there are certain people that get overlooked and don’t put in the work and they continuously get overlooked. You might have been eligible last year to get on the Freshman cover but you weren’t picked, so your momentum slowed down and now you’re not being looked at. My momentum didn’t slow down and I continued to do what I was gonna do. I didn’t let it discourage me. I wasn’t the artist that was like, ‘Fuck XXL because they didn’t pick me.’ I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t let people know how I feel about it because I feel like everybody watches me. This is not always the place to speak on how you feel ’cause you might rub the right person the wrong way. You might burn bridges before you even have to cross them.

People dream of this moment and as an artist, as a rapper, even if today you don’t do nothing else after this, this is a staple in hip-hop history to be on the XXL Freshman cover, just off grip. From right now, every move that I make, I’m geeked for my son to understand what happened or what was going on. Like, ‘My dad was on this cover.’ This is one of those things that you’re excited about. My fans rocked with me. This is the best timing. If you have something, if you’re a star, you are going to shine when the light hits you.”—Georgette Cline

See Behind-the-Scenes Photos of Madeintyo at 2017 XXL Freshman Shoot