Truth on Being a 2018 XXL Freshman: “The Freshman cover has been a goal of mine since I started rapping. I wanted to do it to be part of the culture. I honestly don’t feel like a Freshman no more but just to be a part of this is legendary. It’s just going to give me more exposure and grow my brand.

I felt really good when I found out I was going to be a Freshman. I really wanted to be a part of this. I had a strong feeling that I was going to be a part of it this year, so when I was told I made the class it didn’t surprise me but it did at the same time. The first person I actually told was my mom. I told my mom because we used to watch the damn Freshman classes together. I used to tell my mom, ‘Come here, look at this,’ and we would just judge every rapper’s freestyle.

I think I didn’t get picked last year because I was really just blowing up. I mean, I was big and people were becoming familiar with my name, but I wasn’t exposed like that. The Love Letter To You project came out and it did put me out there, and my song, “Love Scars,” blew me up like crazy, but it wasn’t my time yet. I’ve grown a lot since last year. I can tell you that I’m way better now—not even that I was trash or anything like that. It’s just the simple fact that once you master something, you can’t do nothing but keep on mastering it or fall off. I just keep mastering my skills and keep getting better.

I think the Freshman cover is really going to show people that I got bars. You know, a lot of people don’t really listen to those gem songs I have. I do have a lot of songs that are gems where I am saying lyrical shit, so I’m going to prove a lot of people wrong. This is where you prove to people why you earned your spot on the cover. I don’t think a lot of the guys here today are going to do that. I know I got bars for sure! But for me that’s all that it is. It’s just an opportunity to show the world what you can do, and if you’re going to get on here and be like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’ and all that weird shit. That shit is trash to me.

You can never be too big for the XXL Freshman cover. I don’t care who you are. It’s part of the culture. If you got bars or you can supposedly spit then why not be part of the class? XXL has had some crazy cyphers in the past and those people that were in the cyphers that were too big at the time were on it, you know what I’m saying? So why not be a part of history.”—As told to Roger Krastz

See Behind-the-Scenes Photos of Trippie Redd at the 2018 XXL Freshman Cover Shoot