Truth on Being a 2018 XXL Freshman: “I remember when I was first being signed, I would tell my manager, ‘I’m just trying to be a Freshman.’ I’m not gonna lie: At first, I was getting mad label offers for hella money but none of them were saying nothing about the Freshman list. I was like, ‘You got those M’s but I wanna be a Freshman!’ And now it’s really happening. Now that I’m actually a Freshman, to me, it’s crazy.

I was watching [XXL Freshman] freestyles from a long time ago, [when I was] really young. I don’t [remember what class]. I was probably like 11 or 12 years old. I started watching all of them from beginning to end. Honestly, as a rapper, the Freshman list is definitely the biggest milestone. Culture-wise, anything-wise, that’s the biggest stamp. Every year when I start making a project, this is what I’m thinking about. I’m trying to go hard so I can make the list.

[I deserve to be a Freshman] because of the work I’ve put in, the time I’ve put in, the people I’ve worked with, the people who have given me advice—from Drake to Travis [Scott] to Gucci [Mane]. I always got kicked out of schools, [so] I kinda knew everybody from around the whole city just because I kept switching schools. When I started rapping in my senior year [of high school], it traveled around every school. Before senior year was over shit already started popping off. That’s why it popped so quick. Getting kicked out helped me with the rapping.

When I found out I made it as a Freshman, I told my manager, my mom and my younger brother. They were happy because they know I wanted it the year before that. I was like, ‘I need that.’ Then I ain’t make it. But when I made it this year, I was like, ‘Oh shit!’ I’m not gonna say I was ready [last year]—people felt like I was ready because they were like, ‘Purpp got snubbed, Purpp got snubbed!’ So people feel that way, but I feel like it’s way better now. I’m in a better and different situation. I’m glad it happened this way.

My fans are going to be mind-blown, 'cause I really only have probably no more than 40 songs—two tapes with 10 songs each. Then before that I only had like, 10 songs. It’s hard to do a whole set on tour, because I don’t have enough songs to fill in the hour. I feel like that makes it look even crazier so I appreciate [XXL]. Next, I need a solo cover.”—As told to John Kennedy

See Photos of Smokepurpp at the 2018 XXL Freshman Class Cover Shoot