href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: June 18, 2021Johnny Nunez, Getty Images / Prince Williams, WireImage / Paras Griffin, Getty Images

6ix9ine is trolling on social media once again.

On Thursday (June 17), the "Gummo" rapper jumped on Instagram to address Gucci Mane regarding his 1017 Records artist Pooh Shiesty's shooting case.

"@laflar107 your man got robbed in the club while performing and got mad and took out his gun for the cameras," 6ix9ine writes, misspelling Gucci's IG handle in the process. "Now his mom lost both her sons one dead the other in jail after getting robbed. Smh she in my prayers."


What 6ix9ine is referring to is Pooh's legal situation in Miami. Pooh Shiesty's bond was denied by a judge on Thursday (June 17) in connection to an alleged shooting he's accused of at King of Diamonds nightclub. A preliminary hearing for the rapper, who is still incarcerated in a Miami jail, has been scheduled for July 22, according to documents obtained by XXL.

Also, prosecutors are concerned about Pooh's alleged victim, a security guard at KOD named Frivin Dor, who suffered a gunshot injury in the ankle, recently recanting his statement. "This is very concerning to me," Miami-Dade prosecutor Ruben Scolavino told Circuit Judge Ellen Venzer in court. "Our office is obviously investigating it."

The prosecutor additionally revealed in court a "federal detainer" has been placed on Pooh by the U.S. Attorney's Office for another shooting on Oct. 13, 2020 that the Memphis rhymer was involved in. The detainer on Pooh Shiesty translates to the feds possibly charging the 2021 XXL Freshman for the incident caught on video. In the footage, gunshots can be seen being fired by what appears to be Pooh in an East Bay Harbor drive condo parking lot. Subsequently, Pooh was charged with armed robbery, aggravated assault with a firearm and theft in that case.

Pooh's attorney, Saam Zangeneh, reportedly shared that although federal authorities may hit the Memphis rapper with fed charges, he is confident that his client is innocent.

In the meantime, 6ix9ine has now added LaFlare on his list to troll. Back in May, the Brooklyn rapper decided to poke fun at Lil Reese after Reese was reportedly shot along with two other men during an exchange of gunfire in a parking deck at 6 West Grand Ave. in Chicago. Thankfully, Reese has recovered from his injuries he suffered in the incident, which allegedly involved a stolen vehicle.

Gucci Mane has not responded to 6ix9ine as of yet.

Here Are 10 of Hip-Hop's Biggest Trolls of All Time

Filed Under: 6ix9ine, Gucci Mane, Pooh ShiestyCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: June 17, 2021Timothy Norris, WireImage

Blueface has been quiet on the music front but it looks like he's keeping himself busy with his new business venture.

On Tuesday (June 15), a video surfaced of the "Thotiana" rapper showing off his new restaurant on his Instagram Story. The eatery is called Blue's Fish & Soul and it's located in Santa Clara, Calif.

In the clip, Blueface is walking around in the back kitchen area where several people are preparing and serving the food. The 24-year-old Cash Money West artist then reveals his signature drink, the Blueface lemonade. In another segment, Blue shows his fans what his favorite order is at the restaurant—a signature plate called Blue's Athlete Platter—which consists of fried shrimp, collard greens and a side order of macaroni and cheese.

Blueface also talks to the customers inside the establishment and asks them how the food tastes. One customer says, "It's fire," while another patron smiles and exclaims the food, "slaps," which is Bay Area slang for "it's really good."

Blue also notes that the restaurant is hiring. "We are looking for new employees if anybody wants to come. Help is wanted," he shares.

Blueface isn't the only rapper launching his own eatery. During a Zoom conversation with XXL on Jan. 14, Lil Baby revealed that he'll be opening a restaurant in Atlanta.

"Actually, I have a new restaurant and I'ma open it in Atlanta," he told XXL, which he describes will have a lounge-y type of vibe. "It was supposed to be open by January, but we had to finish the stages, so maybe, February, March."

Lil Baby said the menu will feature Southern comfort dishes and libations. "You know, lamb chops, lobster tails, rice, stuff like that," he added. "A little music, alcohol. Stuff like that."

It's always good to see rappers expand their portfolios and launch business ventures in their own communities.

Watch Blueface show off his new soul food restaurant Blue's Fish & Soul below.

Here's A Trip Around the World Through Your Favorite Rappers’ Favorite Foods

Filed Under: BluefaceCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: June 16, 2021Contributing Authors: Twitter

It's that time of year again. Today, XXL unveils its annual XXL Freshman class featuring 42 Dugg, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli, Morray, Rubi Rose, Blxst, Toosii, Lakeyah and Freshman 10th spot winner DDG. Before the announcement, there have been several fake 2021 XXL Freshman lists floating around on social media for the last few months. XXL never types out Freshman lists on computers or laptops nor shares them on paper to be passed around. If there's a list circulating, look for the artist that is least known and they likely created the fake themselves. In celebration of the class arrival today, prepare to be entertained with a look back at the fake Freshman lists that have caused an uproar on social this year.

Props to the person who created the hilariously fake list that incorporates digital cryptocurrency Doge Coin, actress-turned-pop singer Olivia Rodrigo, who just landed her first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with Sour; D.A.M.E. Dolla, a.k.a. Portland Trail Blazers player Damian Lillard; Bennifer, the couple nickname given to Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck; EDM DJ David Guetta, and four women's names mentioned on the late DMX's 1999 track "What These Bitches Want": Brenda, Latisha, Linda and Felicia. At least they got one Freshman right: Pooh Shiesty.

In another fake list, someone posted a blurry handwritten Freshman list that features Kanye West, Lil Nas X, and Ed Sheeran. ’Ye is past Freshman consideration, people. Lil Nas X, too. And while Sheeran loves rap, he's not a rapper.

Another Twitter user shared a fake 2021 XXL Freshman list that consists of Michael Jackson, John Cena, Captain America and DaBaby. Nope, totally wrong. And for the record, DaBaby is a proud alumnus of the 2019 XXL Freshman Class.

One of the strangest fake Freshman lists that popped up on social media came from a person who listed Kanye West, harshly describing the inductee as the mentally ill version of ’Ye, the late Kobe Bryant, German philosopher Karl Marx, and "You." No doubt this list will leave you scratching your heads.

The one thing all of these lists have is common is that they're fake. The only legit place to find out who is really on the 2021 XXL Freshman list is on So, stay tuned here for all your official Freshman news and more from the new class of artists.

In the meantime, check out these fake yet hilarious 2021 XXL Freshman lists below.

See Hilarious Fake 2021 XXL Freshman ListsFiled Under: 2021 XXL FreshmanCategories: News, XXL Freshmen

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Georgette Cline”>Georgette ClinePublished: June 16, 2021Travis Shinn for XXL

The 2021 XXL Freshman Class has arrived. So, where can you buy the magazine that features all 11 Freshman artists—42 Dugg, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli, Morray, Rubi Rose, Blxst, Toosii, Lakeyah and DDG—on the cover? Right here on the website.

We’ve made it easier by offering hip-hop fans the ability to buy XXL magazine's summer issue featuring the 2021 XXL Freshman Class online.

The new issue, which hit newsstands on July 7, is available on the XXL website now for purchase for $5.99. Shipping and tax rates apply. And, there's free shipping on orders over $50. In addition, there is a T-shirt featuring the 2021 XXL Freshman Class cover for $25.

Spending money on a magazine or merch may not be top priority for some, but if you’re a hip-hop fan, the option is available. The 11 rappers in the 2021 XXL Freshman Class, including 42 Dugg, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli, Morray, Rubi Rose, Blxst, Toosii, Lakeyah and DDG, all share their influences, what they were like as freshmen in high school and the truth on being part of this year’s class in their respective interviews.

In addition to those conversations, the XXL magazine summer 2021 issue also features interviews with Ski Mask The Slump God, Moneybagg Yo, Cordae, Lil Tecca, music video director Cole Bennett, Kash Doll, Jack Harlow, Conway The Machine, 10 of the most in-demand hip-hop jewelers in the business, singer Mahalia, Latin trap-pop singer Karol G, producer Jake One, engineer Todd Hurtt and music executive Shawn “Tubby” Holiday.

Cop the new issue of XXL magazine here.

Travis Shinn for XXLSee Every XXL Freshman Cover Since 2007A look at every XXL Freshman cover since 2007.Filed Under: 2021 XXL Freshman, 42 Dugg, Blxst, Coi Leray, cole bennett, Conway The Machine, Cordae, DDG, Flo Milli, Iann Dior, Jack Harlow, Kash Doll, Lakeyah, Lil Tecca, MoneyBagg Yo, Morray, Pooh Shiesty, Rubi Rose, Ski Mask The Slump God, ToosiiCategories: News, XXL Freshmen, XXL Magazine

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: June 9, 2021Cooper Neill, Getty Images

New developments have emerged regarding YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s federal firearms case.

According to documents obtained by XXL on Wednesday (June 9), attorneys for the Louisiana rapper, born Kentrell Gaulden, filed a pretrial motion on Monday (June 7) to have their client released pending trial for his Sept. 29, 2020 arrest. YoungBoy was brought into custody on charges of felony possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and and possession of firearm not registered in the national firearms registration and transfer record.

Elsewhere in the documents, YoungBoy’s legal team claims that they, as well as their client, were blindsided by the FBI’s “inexplicable tactical decision” to arrest the rapper. The legal team notes that in regards to the warrant that was issued for NBA YoungBoy on March 10 and was executed on March 22, resulting in the rapper's arrest after a brief police pursuit in Los Angeles, they were unaware of any additional allegations against YoungBoy aside from prior state-level offenses that he was already on bond for.

Furthermore, the attorneys allege that the feds referred to NBA's case as "Never Free Again," which the legal team deems a "clear attack on to the defendant’s brand 'Never Broke Again,'" according to the court filings. The documents also accuse the Baton Rouge, La. sector of the FBI of opting to contact federal agents in L.A. to arrange YoungBoy's arrest instead of contacting his lawyers and allowing the rapper to voluntarily surrender to authorities.

In another document obtained by XXL this afternoon from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Digital Evidence Laboratory, the legal agency has also cited the investigation into the rapper's arrest as "Operation Never Free Again."

Ultimately, YoungBoy's attorneys are requesting that their client be released into the custody of a private security team retained by the Top rapper and placed on house arrest with electronic monitoring.

YoungBoy's legal case stems from his arrest last September after police were called to a vacant lot where he was filming a music video. According to authorities, police arrived at the scene in response to a call of weapons being brandished at the video shoot. YoungBoy and 15 other men were arrested. After police searched the premises, they discovered 14 firearms, three grams of marijuana, one dose of Hydrocodone inside a clear bag and digital scales.  YoungBoy Never Broke Again was released days after the arrest in Sept. 29, 2020.

Last month, the 21-year-old rapper wrote an open letter to his fans, asking them to let him serve out his jail time in peace.

"I ain’t looking for you to feel sorry for me. I just ask for one thing- For you to let me suffer in peace," he wrote. "Tell MS WENDY WILLIAM I say she got a good soul and she’s a beautiful women. I can see that threw all the bad comments thrown at her. Tell her count her blessings (STAY IN GOOD SPIRIT) Sincerely Kentrell."

XXL has reached out to a rep for YoungBoy Never Broke Again as well as his legal team for comment.

See 22 Hip-Hop-Related Police RaidsThese rappers had some serious run-ins with the police.Filed Under: NBA YoungBoy, YoungBoy Never Broke AgainCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: June 8, 2021Neue Focus

Polo G is really glowing up.

According to a report on TMZ, published on Tuesday (June 8), the 2020 XXL Freshman purchased a lavish 11,000-square-foot mansion in the San Fernando Valley area of California for $4,885,000. The Mediterranean-style property boasts seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a formal dining room, a pool room, a custom wine closet and a bar all on the main floor.

A rep for The Agency, the real estate company that Polo bought the property from, confirmed the rapper's purchase to XXL this afternoon. The real estate agent also specified that the home is located in Chatsworth, Calif., less than 30 minutes away from San Fernando Valley. Emil Hartoonian, Bryan Castaneda and Andrew Mortaza of The Agency held the listing while Daniel Dill of WEA represented the "Rapstar" artist.

Additionally, the mansion is described as a car collector’s dream estate with a nearly one-acre lot that features an astonishing 36 parking spaces, including a 14-car garage. Not only that, outside of the estate is a BBQ area, pool, spa, and a lighted tennis court all located in a spacious backyard surrounded by stone terraces and patios, according to the media outlet.

The Chicago rapper’s humble abode comes just four months after he bought his momager, Stacia Mac, a new house in Atlanta. Mac shared the good news on her Instagram page with her followers. "I decided to relocate to ATL in September 2020," she writes in the caption for the post. "Today my son purchased my dream home! I showed him the home and he didn't flinch. His response was 'what you need?'"

Mac closed out her message thanking her son for the special gift.

"To say I'm appreciative is an understatement," she says. "Thank you son! Thank you for being a man of your word. Thank you for giving me things, that at times, I was unable to provide you or myself. I love you and I'm eternally grateful."

Big real estate purchases aside, Polo G is gearing up to release his new project, Hall of Fame, on Friday (June 11). The effort will feature guest appearances from several notable rhymers including Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Roddy Ricch, Lil Durk, the late Pop Smoke and more.

See Photos of Polo G’s New $5 Million MansionPolo G spends nearly $5 million on new mansion.Filed Under: Polo GCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Georgette Cline”>Georgette ClineUpdated: June 8, 2021Johnny Tergo for XXL

Images: Johnny Tergo for XXL  Interview: Georgette Cline

Pressure's OnFor nearly a decade, Yo Gotti has been building his CMG empire from the ground up. Armed with a new Interscope Records deal for his imprint, the Memphis native is leaning into his executive position with a stacked roster of talent.

Look no further than Yo Gotti as the plug. He’s hustling to find hip-hop’s next big talent and distributing their music to the masses through his independent label, CMG, by way of a newly established partnership with Interscope Records. The deal, which the Memphis native reveals he secured for eight figures, will highlight the “biggest label” and “biggest partnership in music” over the next few years, he says. To commemorate this milestone in his career, Gotti heads to the top of the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles to the Smilez mansion, a 17,000 square-foot estate designed by architect Paul McClean, which the rapper used for his XXL cover shoot on a dazzling day in May. The mood is celebratory not only for the CMG/Interscope bag secured, but also because of the surprise 40th birthday party Gotti had the night prior. With CMG artists Blac Youngsta, 42 Dugg and EST Gee popping in and out of the mansion as well as several members of the the indie label’s crew handling business on the outdoor terrace, it’s clear that the label operates as a close-knit unit. Gotti oftentimes refers to them all as “one family, one tree.”

Images: Johnny Tergo for XXL  Interview: Georgette Cline

Since coming into the game in 1996, with his debut album, Youngsta’s on a Come Up, Yo Gotti has experienced 25 years worth of music industry ups and downs. The hustler within went from navigating the streets to the boardroom, securing major label deals with RCA Records and Epic Records throughout his career. Ten albums deep, the launch of CMG in 2013, and locking in a Roc Nation deal for management in 2016, is a testament to his artistry. The rap veteran’s time in the game has schooled him on more than two decades of knowledge that he’s been able to pass on to the artists coming up under his wing: Moneybagg Yo, Blac Youngsta, Blocboy JB, 42 Dugg, EST Gee and Big Boogie. His roster of artists have established themselves as their own entities, living up to Gotti’s CMG ethos: “The brand that breaks brands.” Bagg just locked in the first No. 1 album of his career with A Gangsta’s Pain, Youngsta is building up his own Heavy Camp label, Blocboy brings his high energy with each release, 42 Dugg serves his sauce out of Detroit, EST Gee delivers the raw from Kentucky and Big Boogie is next up from Memphis. Their respective catalogs and legion of supporters they’ve amassed along the way have helped them maintain their position in hip-hop.

As Yo Gotti walks around the West Hollywood estate, he commands a room with his executive aura. The hip-hop power player is dripping in a custom powder blue suit designed by Richfresh, Richard Mille watch, Christian Dior sneakers and his artists’ iced-out chains along with a CMG piece around his neck. While the camera is in his direction, he makes it a point to share the spotlight with his team by the simple act of rocking those chains. The next chapter in the CMG regime is unfolding right now. Get into the conversation as Yo Gotti discusses the CMG/Interscope Records partnership, his hands-on approach to being an executive, staying inspired by the likes of Birdman, Slim and Jay-Z, and touting his label as “the next Cash Money.”

XXL: Why are you excited about this partnership between CMG and Interscope Records?

Yo Gotti: I think this a good move for me. I think this a brilliant move for them. I think with this partnership, as far as I see it in my eyes, and the streets see it, and I think Interscope see it, we gon’ come in here in the next few years and, you know, be the biggest label and create the biggest partnership in music.

So as a businessman, what was really important for you in negotiating this deal?

As a businessman, I cover all business the same, small or big, it’s all the important to me. Key things is making sure we in control of our vision. CMG, with me and with my artists’ vision, I feel like I’m responsible to make sure that we always got 100 percent control of what our vision is, individually as artists and as a label, so that’s very key. Making sure we lose no control; we will never comprise any control for us or none of our artists ever. And also, just being with the right partnas. And I believe and I know that Interscope got the right staff to slam dunk all our tasks that need to happen.

Over the years, you had the RCA Records deal, you had an Epic Records deal. So, after your contract was up with Epic, did you have a bunch of other labels come at you and how did you handle that in going to Interscope?

We had every label in the game coming towards, every chairman in the game coming to me, calling my phone directly. This wasn’t no little thing. This a big deal, you know I’m saying? The top of the top had to come out and make that phone call to have these type of discussions. You know, we like the No. 1 draft pick if it was the NBA. So, you know what that mean, everybody gonna put their best foot forward. They gonna put their money where their mouth at and they are gonna make sure they have the right people to have the conversation.

Do you want to give some type of number as far as how this deal goes, any figures?

It’s a lot, a lot, you know I’m saying? We ain’t doing no shit under eight figures and we ain’t talking no ones or twos, you know?

Johnny Tergo for XXL

As far as artists on the label, which artists are under CMG and why is it important for you to have made this partnership to have these artists on this other type of platform?

When you talking about all the artists that fall up under the CMG umbrella, you talking Moneybagg Yo, you talking 42 Dugg, EST Gee, Blocboy JB, Blac Youngsta, you talking Yo Gotti. Who else we got? We got a lot of development artists too, some on the line we can’t even name yet…

Big Boogie… Lil Migo on the team [under Blac Youngsta]. Then it’s branches. You know, at CMG, we got branches. I think that’s the unique thing about us. I like to say we the brand that breaks brands. What I mean by that, when I say we got branches, you got Moneybagg Yo, you know I’m saying, which is his own branch. We have partnership with my guy Head at NLess [Entertainment] and they got they thing with Big30. All that shit a branch. We all a family, you know I’m saying? Then you got Blac Youngsta, which is Heavy Camp, you know, that’s a branch. That’s how you get [Lil] Migo in the picture, you know I’m saying?

So, we the brand that break brands. We partnas with everybody and we hustle together. It’s like one big family, one big tree. This ain’t no regular label shit where artists come in and just sign a paper and go in the studio and rap. It’s like a lot of hustlers coming to the table and partnering together and putting they vision on the table and we all building this thing together.

Early on, you signed a lot of artists from Memphis and now you’ve decided to branch out to 42 Dugg in Detroit and EST Gee in Louisville, Ky. So, talk a little about why that was important to start in Memphis and then look around the U.S. and globally for the next hot artists.

First, for the record, I think there was a misconception that I was trying to build something just in Memphis. I’m just from Memphis. So, if you got a hot artist coming from Memphis, that’s the shit I heard first, you know I mean? I can not hear Moneybagg Yo coming up hot as he was. I can not hear what Blac Youngsta was doing. I can not hear what Big Boogie was doing when I’m going to the clubs in my city.

So, I think that just happened ’cause I’m from the city. I don’t think it was a plan to say, “I just want to start with Memphis artists.” I’ll hustle with anybody. Man, you could be from Mars. You a true hustler, and you got the shit we need, the right product, man, we in business. I think that’s a little misconception, but I’ll take it ’cause I’m from the town, alright, I’m from Memphis, so I think it’s still unique. We always want to build the city as far as we can go. But you know, I’m a worldwide hustler.

“The future for CMG? We the next Cash Money. We the next Roc-A-Fella. We the next Death Row. We the next No Limit. That’s the future for us.”

One of your successful artists, who recently had a No. 1 album, who’s been in the game for a while is Moneybagg Yo. Congratulations to him, of course, and to you as the leader of the team with that. So how does that feel just seeing someone him work so hard in the industry and he finally got his No. 1?

Seeing Moneybagg Yo album, [A Gangsta's Pain] being No. 1 in Billboard, not only once, but twice because it was just No. 1 [again in May]. We take a small break and we celebrate me, him, my partna Head at NLess, the whole team, everybody on the staff ’cause everybody put in work, Interscope. Everybody put in a lot, a lot of work to make this shit happen. So, we gonna stop for a minute, pop a few bottles and chill, and then I’ma hit everybody else the next day and be like, “Yo, let’s get back to it ’cause this shit ain’t enough.”

A No. 1 album is cool, but we still got more barrels we got to knock down, you know I’m saying? Not to take away from nothing we’ve done, but the vision is so big and so great for all of us that it ain’t the end goal. That one chart position ain’t the end goal. We got to do this shit every time. What’s the next chart, what's the next thing we can break? What’s the next record? That’s how we think.

And the other artists on the CMG team are making moves too.

Speaking on Blac Youngsta, you know, that’s my little brother, man. He was able to come up under the wing and, you know, I gave him all the game and information he needed to create his branch. His branch is Heavy Camp. [Blac Youngsta is still signed to Epic Records.] So, speaking of Lil Migo, which is [Blac Youngsta’s] artist, that falls up under that branch. He doing his thing. He hustling, he in the studio, he building his company and again, it’s all at the table.

42 Dugg, shout-out to doggie, man. I think 42 Dugg, like megastar, you know I’m saying, just a natural. I don’t know if he fully know it, you know, how big of a star he is yet. You talking about swag, and you talking about just charisma and delivery, he’s one of ones, he one of them guys. I’m very excited to see what he gonna become in the future.

EST Gee like remind me of what I was doing and what Jeezy was doing, and you know, what Boosie [BadAzz], and all those guys that really, really come from the pavement with doing in this shit years and years ago. When I first heard Gee, I’m just looking, I’m like, man, that shit take me back to that era. I think when we see Gee prevail into what he’s gonna be, it’s gonna be a whole different momentum that the game need right now, you know I’m saying? I’m a fan of the hip-hop and everything he’s doing now, but I just think what Gee doing is just, I think it’s another word that’s rawer than the word raw, and that’s what he is, you know I’m saying?

BlocBoy JB, you know, he just make me want to have fun, you know I’m saying? When I listen to the music, when I see the dance moves, just a young kid waking up every day just basically living his life, being organic to what he doing, him and his homeboys running around the house, doing they thing, making music, having fun and, you know, and it becomes something that’s special to hip-hop. You know, that’s dope.

Big Boogie. I can’t wait ’til the world sees what Big Boogie is. I feel like the world ain’t seen Big Boogie’s full potential yet. I feel like he’s just coming up out of our area, the south region. But once he hit the whole states and then out the world, I think Boogie is just special. He has a sound of his own.

So, what are you looking for when welcoming artists to be part of the CMG team?

I’m looking for talent. I’m looking for determination. I'm looking for hustle. I’m looking for hustlers. There’s a difference, you know I’m saying? I’m most definitely looking for the right partnas. It’s like I’m a plug, and who I’m in business with, who I’m distributing through, so that’s how I look at it. I want to make sure I’m with the right partnas… like look at me as a plug. Feel me? Y’all should look at me as the plug.

How does your knowledge as an artist and experience as an artist help you now in this executive role?

How it helped me as an artist helped me be an executive, which makes me a better executive, is that I understand the artist from a different level. Some of these executives that’s running these companies, they don’t understand the artist. That’s why sometimes there’s always a misunderstanding or they not aligned properly because the artist don’t understand the executive and the executive sometimes don’t understand the artist. I’m able to be on both fields because I play both seats. I was a artist first. So, I really understand the artist.

So, I think sometimes if a artist can’t even communicate what it is they trying to get out to a label sometimes, you know, I understand that and I can help them deliver that. But most importantly, I just understand the artist, so I think it always give me a tighter bond with the artist. And I respect the artist, so I’m never gon’ do sucker shit, no foul shit, no dishonorable things, you know, even for money or for business or for nothing, because I respect the artistry first.

You are very, very hands-on with everything, even from press releases you are looking at that stuff. What are you doing with each of these artists from rollouts to cover art?

Johnny Tergo for XXL

I’m super hands-on with everything in this business, with everything in my company, with every artist I’m hands-on. There ain’t a marketing plan going out on one of my artists that I’m not involved in, it ain’t a promo schedule that goes out on one of my artist that I’m not involved in, it ain’t artwork, it ain’t mixing and mastering, it ain’t nothing that I’m not involved in.

And understand when I say that, you know, the artists make the decision on they music and how they shit looks and the aesthetics of it. But you know, it ain’t we just passing it off to a label or nothing like that. I’m making sure we crossing all the T’s, dotting all the I’s and everything is right. I’m staying up 4, 5 in the morning making sure that shit be the way it’s supposed to be. I don’t sleep. This a 24-hour thing to me.

Who are some of the people in the game that you’ve looked up to that got you to this point?

I look up to Birdman and Slim first. I like to give those guys a lot of credit because they were the first ones that allowed me in the room on a high level. They allowed me to be around certain conversations, around certain phone calls. I’ve traveled with them around a lot of places. So, I think it started with Birdman and Slim. Of course, you know my relationship with Jay[-Z]. It’s like mentorship on a whole ’nother level not even just music, just business in general.

I think them guys is close, but, you know, the Puffs, shout-out to J. Prince, and everybody. I studied ’em even if I weren’t able to work closely to ’em, I studied ’em so I feel like I was close to ’em. I studied everything about ’em. I watched everything they done. What I think they done right, what I think they done wrong. So, I prepped myself for this position. I spent a lot of time and I prepped myself for this shit. Whether they opened the doors and gave me the game or I just studied everybody's moves and watched everything ’cause I knew 10, 15 years ago, I knew I would be sitting in this seat, so I had to prep myself for this shit.

What is your goal with CMG and this new partnership? What is your vision when you signed that the dotted line?

My vision for CMG at this point is expansion. When I say expansion, that’s from not only just from a artist standpoint, that’s from staff, that’s from office, you know, building out multiple offices in different cities, you know, try to take this thing international. Maybe have offices international and expansion in general. I understand this shit is teamwork.

Everything ain’t just artists, you know? It’s just a big part of it, but you got to have the right team. You got to have the right infrastructure. You need the right energy around. You need the right players. You need the right drivers. That shit is super important to me, so I’m investing a lot. I’m investing a lot in just in that, in staff, in team and in infrastructure.

Who are some of those people that helped CMG to be the brand and label that it is right now?

There’s a lot of people that helped me. A lot of people helped me. I don’t really want to get into too many of the names because I don’t want to leave nobody out, you know I’m saying? But that shit is super important. To the team, to the family, everybody that play their part, they are dearly appreciated. I value, value them a lot.

You mentioned it a little bit before, about the motto of CMG, but for yourself, what is the life motto that you’re currently living and how are you living up to it as the leader of the CMG brand?

My life motto is we don’t lose, we win by any means. We don’t quit, we don’t give up, we don’t give excuses, we get shit down. I live by that code. If you work for me, you have to live by that code. I don’t want to hear how shit is fucked up. We’re human, it’s fucked up, cool, fix it. Keep pushing, we ain’t spending a whole lot of time on that shit, we gotta get it done.

Who are you calling to get advice in the game? Are you calling Jay-Z? How do those conversations go?

I’m a person I ain’t too proud to ask questions. I think that the most valuable thing you can do is receive information. I try to learn something every day. I don’t ever run around claiming I think I know everything. So, I don’t got no issue with picking up the phone and calling people for advice. Desiree [Perez] at Roc Nation, Jay-Z, anybody, according to what the information is I need, I pick up the phone and call whoever.

You don’t even got to be a close person that I talk to every day. If I just think you have information about the subject that I’m tryna get an answer to, I’ll track you down. “Y’all, give me such-and-such number, I read two, three years ago when he done this shit like this here. I need to ask him about that.” And I hit him, “Yo, this Gotti. I’m looking at this and that and I wanted to get your take on this.” I don’t got no pride when asking for help or for information.

How do you handle a situation where there's a conflict or something doesn’t go right that you plan? How does the CMG team, how do you handle it?

When it comes to conflicts, I think I handle them well. I try to handle most of them professionally as possible. But, you know, depending on what type of conflicts it is, but I also think it’s part of life. Really, the culture I come from, we have to deal with conflicts all the time. So, I ain’t no person that’s under pressure at no point with conflict. Conflicts only make me sharper almost. It make me dial into the situation a little more. I go through conflicts, I think it’s a part of life, I think it’s a part of business. If it's an in-house conflict, a business conflict, we try to handle it as respectful as possible. And if it’s amongst family, you know the code to that, you nah mean, we handle that shit in the house. Don’t nothing ever come out.

What are you most proud of within what you’ve built so far with CMG? Is it a certain artist that you have found and they became much bigger? Or was it building the brand literally when you started it in 2013?

What I’m most proud of, of what we doing with CMG is that just to see what we doing and the branches that’s coming off [what] we doing. Like I like to say, we the brand that build brands. When I see my vision evolving more and more, higher and higher, and wider and wider, to me, that’s one of the trophies of this shit.

Johnny Tergo for XXL

Is there a business person that you look up to?

Business people I look up to, it’s many of ’em. It can go far as Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates to Jay-Z, that’s our Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, you feel me? It can go down to a hustler from my city who I know put in a lot of work in the streets and beat the system. He’s somewhere right now living in the suburbs with his family and started a business and transformed his shit without going to the federal penitentiary. I look up to him too. It’s a wide range.

The chains you are wearing are very significant, representing each of your artists and their brands. Why is it important to wear all of them today?

CMG, we the brand that break brands. You know, I look at all my artists like, you know, they my business partnas. And if they have brands, I support that, you know I’m saying? We all a team. Whatever my artists with, that’s what I’m with, you nah mean? Whatever my partnas with, that’s what I’m with. That’s how I am rocking, that’s how I was raised, that’s how I was taught. I wore these chains today on this cover ’cause I think it’s important to me that if I’m closing big deals, they closing big deals. We all closing big deals.

These chains represent all my artists. They represent all my partnas. One of these chains represents EST Gee. I got Bread Gang up under here for Moneybagg Yo, I got Heavy Camp on here for Blac Youngsta, BlocBoy JB on here, CMG on here, NLess on here. I’m just rocking all the chains ’cause anybody that’s at the table with us, that’s what I’m representing on this cover. Look at me as the plug, I’m just a plug, you know I’m saying?

What does the future of CMG look like?

The future for CMG? We the next Cash Money. We the next Roc-A-Fella. We the next Death Row. We the next No Limit. That’s the future for us.

Johnny Tergo for XXL (Click to Enlarge)No hindsight music unit displayed.Filed Under: Feature, XXL Magazine, Yo GottiCategories: Digital Covers, News, XXL Magazine

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: May 31, 2021Darrius Jones for XXL

Lil Loaded died on Monday (May 31) at the age of 20.

Ashkan Mehryari, attorney for the rhymer, real name Dashawn Maurice Robertson, confirmed the news to XXL this afternoon. "Sadly, the rumors are true and Mr. Robertson did pass away today," Mehryari wrote in a statement.

The cause of Loaded’s death is unclear.

However, earlier this afternoon a screenshot of an Instagram Story post that the Texas-bred artist shared recently began circulating online. It’s uncertain when Lil Loaded uploaded the message to his social media, but as of reporting time, it was no longer available on his page.

The lengthy message reads: “Dear most high, Please forgive me for my shortcomings and all of the times I’ve fell short of making you proud and being appreciative of the blessings that have been put in my life sometimes the lines are blurred between being solid and being heartless I want to thank you for how far I’ve come and the people you’ve put in my life to keep me grounded and humble through everything and I love every single one of those people that are genuinely for me I ask for entrance into your kingdom thru all of my mistakes I know you love all of your children and I’m ready for my heart and soul to Join you.”

The Dallas rapper rose to popularity in 2019 with his viral hit "6locc 6a6y." The accompanying video has garnered over 28 million YouTube views so far. His follow-up single, “Gang Unit,” was an even bigger hit with over 39 million YouTube views and earned the rapper props from the likes of Polo G and NLE Choppa. In December of 2019, Loaded released his debut project, 6locc 6a6y.

Unfortunately, before his death, Lil Loaded was facing a major legal hurdle. Back in March, Loaded was indicted by a grand jury on one count of manslaughter in connection with the death of Khalil Walker. A Dallas County grand jury delivered the indictment stating there was enough evidence to charge the young rapper of recklessly causing the death of 18-year-old Walker, who was reportedly Lil Loaded’s friend.

Lil Loaded's attorney, Ashkan Mehryari, at the time, insisted that his client was innocent of the charge. “There’s obviously no malice here,” he said.

According to a police affidavit, Lil Loaded shot Walker in the torso with a rifle outside of a home in The Woods neighborhood of Dallas on Oct. 25, 2020. Both men and a witness were standing outside of the residence, according to police.

Walker's sister, who was inside at the time, reported hearing two gunshots and exiting the home to see Walker on the ground injured from the shot. In a strange twist in the case, there was reportedly a video of Lil Loaded shooting Walker on Walker's phone, according to the police.

Walker was rushed to Methodist Charlton Medical Center where he later died of his injuries. Lil Loaded surrendered to authorities 15 days after the shooting on Nov. 9, 2020. The "Rocc Dis" rapper has since maintained his innocence.

XXL has reached out to a rep for Lil Loaded for a statement.

See Rappers We've Lost in 2020

Filed Under: lil loadedCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: May 31, 2021Nicholas Hunt / Kevin Mazur, Getty Images (2) / Prince Williams, WireImage

Hooks are one of the most essential parts of a hip-hop song, and help move a rapper's track to the top of the charts once its ingrained in the culture. On the flip side, there are plenty of memorable tracks that don't have a hook and among some of the most popular songs over the years.

A standout no-hook banger is Meek Mill's 2012 anthem "Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)." The guaranteed party-starter begins with a triumphant piano groove as Meek reflects on his rise to the top of the rap game. Produced by Tone the Beat Bully, an ominous beat then sounds off as the Philly rhymer spits a heated diatribe to his distractors. No hook needed, just Meek's blistering rhymes.

Three years ago, J. Cole delivered cautionary verses to up-and-coming rappers on his 2018 track "1985 (Intro to the Fall Off)" from his KOD album. The song was interpreted as him criticizing newer rappers like Lil Pump. Overall, rap fans saluted Cole for his insightful bars about the pitfalls of the industry, all without a hook. As a result, "1985 (Intro to the Fall Off)" climbed to the No. 20 position on the Billboard Hot 100 that year.

A year prior, Kendrick Lamar delivered his own song without a hook, 2017's "Duckworth." A few beat switches—courtesy of producer 9th Wonder—support K-Dot's story of the time Top Dawg Entertainment CEO Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith robbed a KFC restaurant where Kendrick's father, nicknamed "Ducky," used to work in the 1990s. Ducky got on Tiffith's good side, and he decided not to harm Kendrick's dad. The incident happened many years before Tiffith discovered Kendrick, whose surname is Duckworth, and signed the rapper to TDE. With a tale so riveting, there's no need for a hook on this one.

These are just a few of the tracks that don't have a catchy hook or a memorable chorus—just fire bars. XXL highlights the best hip-hop songs with no hooks. Check them out below.

  • “Duckworth.”Kendrick Lamar
  • “1985 (Intro to the Fall Off)”J. Cole
  • “Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)”Meek Mill
  • “Hot N*gga”Bobby Shmurda
  • “4pm In Calabasas”Drake
  • “No Hooks”Jay-Z
  • “Freestyle”Lil Baby
  • “New Slaves”Kanye West
  • “Exhibit C”Jay Electronica
  • “Wishing for a Hero”Polo G
  • “Triumph”The Wu-Tang Clan
  • “Depression & Obsession”XXXTentacion
  • “1 Train”A$AP Rocky featuring Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown and Action Bronson
  • “Out My Way”Juice Wrld
  • “Public Enemy #1″Eminem
  • “Freeddawg”YoungBoy Never Broke Again
  • “Oh Boy”Cam’ron
  • “Mural”Lupe Fiasco
  • “It Was a Good Day”Ice Cube
  • “No Hook”Lil Yachty featuring Quavo
  • “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”Nas
  • “Bastard”Tyler, The Creator
  • “I Ain’t No Joke”Eric B. & Rakim
  • “Breakfast”Curren$y
  • “Tha Mobb”Lil Wayne
  • “First Day Out”Tee Grizzley
  • “Rock Co.Kane Flow”De La Soul featuring MF Doom
  • “Off the Zoinkys”J.I.D.
  • “Children’s Story”Slick Rick
  • “No Hook”OJ Da Juiceman
  • “Web”The Roots
  • “Devil’s Work”Joyner Lucas

See Hip-Hop Albums Turning 10 in 2021Ten years ago, some of the most important hip-hop albums debuted.Filed Under: A$AP Rocky, Action Bronson, Bobby Shmurda, Cam’ron, Curren$y, Drake, Eminem, Eric B, Feature, Ice Cube, J. Cole, J.I.D, Jay Electronica, Jay-Z, Joey Bada$$, Joyner Lucas, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Baby, Lil Wayne, Lil Yachty, Lupe Fiasco, Meek Mill, MoneyBagg Yo, nas, NBA YoungBoy, OJ Da Juiceman, Rakim, Slick Rick, Tee Grizzley, The List, The Roots, Tyler The Creator, Wu-Tang Clan, Yelawolf, YoungBoy Never Broke AgainCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Robby Seabrook III”>Robby Seabrook IIIPublished: May 26, 2021Doug Krantz

As an artist blending hip-hop and R&B into her pop-tinged music, JoJo is a unique talent. She first hit the scene when she was just 12 years old with the release of her self-titled debut album. The project features the hit song “Leave (Get Out)” and helped launch JoJo in to a almost two-decade long career. Now an adult, JoJo is still a beloved artist, and released her fourth album, Good To Know, last year. Talking to XXL about her love for hip-hop, her memories of rapping Jadakiss bars on the school bus, collabing with Remy Ma and her own longevity, JoJo has plenty to share.

XXL: Growing up, who were some rap artists you liked?

JoJo: I remember being drawn to Busta Rhymes at an early age. He would get real soft, and be subtle, and then turn it up. Even when I was younger, “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See.” So, I liked hip-hop artists like him and Missy [Elliott] that were really pushing the boundaries with not only their flows and what they were saying, but also what they were doing, visually. That was so exciting for me.

Just a lot of East Coast hip-hop I was particularly drawn to; Dipset, Biggie [The Notorious B.I.G.]. I remember the first time I listened to Ready to Die. Jadakiss made a huge impact on me; when I was in middle school, and me and all my friends would be on the bus being like, “Fuck the frail shit.” I mean, just absolutely ridiculous, looking at us with our little backpacks and Air Force 1s on, talking about weighing coke. I think it’s a real bummer when people try to infuse something that isn’t natural just because it’s hot. Particularly, White artists who had no interest or adjacency to hip-hop. If it’s not true, then I don’t think you should be doing it, period.

In 2010, you became one of the first R&B artists to drop a mixtape with Can’t Take That Away From Me, then Agape in 2012.

That was the saving grace for me. That was 100 percent inspired by what I saw men in hip-hop doing. At the time, it was definitely a more male-dominated space. And, I had always known of hip-hop artists to put out mixtapes, they were kind of avoiding the major label system and they were doing things on their terms. I didn’t know of any other pop artist doing that, but I also didn’t know of any other pop artist presently in the position that I was in.

You dropped your album Mad Love in 2016, on which you collaborated with Wiz Khalifa on “Fuck Apologies” and Remy Ma on “FAB.” Why did you choose those rappers in particular?

We wanted a feature for “Fuck Apologies,” and Wiz was one of the people we were throwing around, because I’ve been a fan of him since his mixtape days. So, I thought that might be cool. We sent him a song and he dug it. But with Remy, I’ve been a fan since I heard her on “Lean Back.” I remember “R to the Eazy, M to the Wizeye.” That was a big part of my childhood. I was really excited that she was coming back, and I felt that she might respond to the subject matter. I slid in her DMs and sent her the song. She loved it.

What rappers are you listening to nowadays?

I love Anderson .Paak. I’ve loved him for a long time. Tierra Whack is incredible. I love D Smoke. Baby Keem. My best friend put me onto Baby Keem months ago and I’m obsessed. It’s not normally my thing.

See 20 Ways in Which Rappers Schooled Us About LifeTravis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Juice Wrld, Pop Smoke and more have taught us quite a few things along the way.Filed Under: Anderson .Paak, Baby Keem, Busta Rhymes, D Smoke, interview, Jadakiss, jojo, Missy Elliott, Remy Ma, The Notorious B.I.g, Tierra Whack, Wiz khalifaCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Zoe Johnson”>Zoe JohnsonPublished: May 19, 2021Atlantic Records

Train of Thought
YBN Nahmir on "Opp Stoppa" featuring 21 Savage.
Interview: Zoe Johnson
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

“I keep a rocket in my pocket socket called a pocket rocket/If it’s war, we ain’t playin’ games, bitch, we get it started/I’m the man, clearly keep a hundred, nigga, I’m a gunna/When it’s beef, we ain’t playin’ games, we hit you and yo’ mama/ Know that choppa, that’s that oppa stoppa, hit you and your pops/I fell in love with all this fuckin’ money, you in love with drama/Say, say, baby, I’m not Sosa baby, but I keep a llama/Gonna pull up in a new i8, you hidin’ in a (Aye) Honda/All these tattoos on my fuckin’ body, she say I’m a hottie/ Why your girlfriend always wanna fuck me, wanna touch my body?/We got all type of fuckin’ guns, might even have a Tommy/I remember them days in the ’jects, still free my nigga Ryan/And free Chris, though/’Member we was bouncin’ out with fo’-fo’s/A nigga keep it silent, in L.A. I keep a clip, though/’Cause no, I can’t be lackin’ in these streets, I keep a big pole (Aye)/And I can’t have no nigga with me if they gon’ snitch on us”

XXL: For those who don’t already know, what’s an opp?

YBN Nahmir: See, for those who don’t know a opp, to me, is somebody I don’t fuck with or somebody from the other side. a.k.a. a enemy. You know that’s really it to be honest.

If someone looked up “Opp Stoppa” in the dictionary or on Google, how do you think it would be defined?

Something to use against another human being. Someone that’s not on your side, I guess. Like, it could be like a gun, a sword, anything.

How did you come up with the chorus?

To be honest, I was messing around in the studio. I was just rhyming. It was like a freestyle the whole way through. I was like going bar for bar. I was like, “Stop me right here. Let me go right here, right here”-type shit. It just came off the brain, came off my mind. I didn’t write it down for that whole song. And it’s crazy, it blew up like, a year later. I made the song in 2018, I dropped it in 2019. Yeah, it just blew up the end of 2020, and has been going crazy ever since I made the remix with 21 Savage and shit got crazy.

How does “Opp Stoppa” connect to your life as a rapper?

Well, my whole life revolved around “Opp Stoppa,” but to be honest, it really don’t connect to me like that anymore. I’ve really been on a lot of chill shit. Staying positive and making sure a lot of people around me straight and I really haven’t had to use the “opp stoppa” in a long time. And, it’s a cold-ass song. It’s really like you don’t have to have a gun or you don’t have to be on bullshit. It’s just a cool song and a fun song that people like.

What's your beef with Hondas?

Nah, I like Hondas. For real. Not all the Hondas, it has to be the specific ones like the NSX or the old little Acura, Hondas or something like that. Hold up, “Siri, is an Acura a Honda? [Siri speak- ing] ‘An Acura is a luxury version of Japanese automaker, Honda.’” Yeah, yeah, like the Acuras and the Hondas and shit. I just really don’t be in tune with them. They be fucking them up out here but I like them.

What made you decide to shout-out Chief Keef on the track?

Shit, he the influence of the youth, damn near. I’m not really the youth no more, I’m 21, but shit, I grew up listening to Chief Keef. I felt like it was a must to shout cuz out ’cause he did so much for everybody. He done opened up a whole different wave of music.

Check out more from XXL’s Spring 2021 issue including Cardi B's cover story, how rappers are legally making money from the cannabis boom and the social justice that comes with itSnowfall's Damson Idris on how hip-hop impacted his life, A$AP Ferg reflects on the making of his Always Strive and Prosper album, Shelley F.K.A. DRAM talks about his comeback, Trippie Redd speaks on how Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert helped change hip-hop, Show & Prove with 42 Dugg, Lakeyah and Blxst, the power of social media in hip-hop and more.

See Cardi B’s XXL Magazine Spring 2021 Cover Story Photo Shoot Cardi B covers the spring 2021 issue of XXL magazine. Filed Under: YBN NahmirCategories: News, XXL Magazine

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Zoe Johnson”>Zoe JohnsonPublished: May 12, 2021Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Following the news that several of Lil Pump's cars, including his Rolls-Royce Cullinan, were broken into, fans started to find out what has been stolen from the 2018 XXL Freshman.

On Wednesday (May 12), TMZ reported that the 20-year-old rhymer's nail kit was stolen during a vehicle break in on Sunday (May 9). According to reports given to the media publication, Miami PD claims surveillance video caught the suspects looking inside the cars before smashing the left rear panel of the Range Rover and taking a $600 nail kit around 6 a.m.

Another suspect got into a Rolls-Royce Wraith through an unlocked passenger door, however, nothing was taken. A third suspect smashed the rear windshield of the Cullinan, which triggered an alarm that made the headlights and taillights flash. The burglars, who were reportedly scared off by car alarms and fled the scene by hopping over a fence, have not been arrested nor identified.

Pump is not listed in the police report, but his mother is named as the victim.

When the initial reports of the South Florida rapper's break in emerged on the internet on May 9, Pump hopped on Instagram to threaten the unidentified culprits who broke into his vehicles, which were initially believed to be two rides.

"Bro, I'ma catch you," Pump angrily yelled in the clip shared to the photo-sharing platform. Elsewhere in the video, Pump displayed the broken rear windows of two white SUVs parked in his driveway. "Whoever did this, I'ma catch you and I'ma blow your brains out, bitch. I'ma catch your ass, little nigga. Little bum-ass bitch. Step foot in my yard again. I want you to step foot in my yard. I'ma be up for three days straight. Come in this bitch. I fucking dare you. That's a free body for me."

Lil Pump recently started wearing acrylic nails earlier this year, but his new style has not been well received by everyone. In March, Kodak Black threatened to block Pump on social media if he didn't stop wearing nails.

"What's up, Lil Pump. I'm mad at you, lil bruh," Kodak stated in the video clip. "Don't be doing all that fingernail polish bullshit. Leave that for Lil Yachty. Don't do that shit, Lil Pump. See, when Lil Yachty do his shit, he be like, we don't know. But when you do that shit, Lil Pump, it's like you serious. Stop that shit, Lil Pump, or I'ma block you."

XXL has reached out to Lil Pump's team and Miami PD for comment on the vehicle break ins.

See How Many Days It’s Been Since Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Travis Scott and More Dropped an Album

Filed Under: Lil PumpCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Zoe Johnson”>Zoe JohnsonPublished: May 11, 2021Marcus Ingram, Getty Images

Soulja Boy has once again been accused of abusing a woman.

On Monday (May 10), a lawsuit was filed against Soulja Boy, born DeAndre Cortez Way, in which the 30-year-old rapper is accused of allegedly beating his former girlfriend until she experienced a miscarriage. Soulja Boy is being sued for domestic violence, negligence, sexual battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and gender violence.

The suit was filed under the alias Jane Doe to protect the alleged victim's identity. The documents obtained by XXL suggest the victim was domestically abused by Way for years and suffered a miscarriage due to the violence in 2015. The documents indicate that the fight, which resulted in the loss of her unborn child, started after Soulja Boy became angry and violent after a conversation. The rapper allegedly began punching the unidentified woman in the face and chest until she was no longer standing. After she fell, Soulja reportedly purposely kicked her in the stomach and other places on her body.

The incident in 2015 is one of several to allegedly take place during the course of their relationship. According to the documents in 2017, Soulja allegedly punched Jane Doe in the face and breasts before being pulled off her by members of his security team. In 2018, a different domestic violence incident was caught on camera and later aired the following year on We tv.

The unidentified woman also claims that Soulja Boy coerced her into sexual acts by using threats of violence during their romantic relationship and carried out physical violence against her if she refused sex.

Jane Doe is seeking general damages, special damages and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by proof at trial, plus attorney’s fees and costs of this legal action.

This is the second allegation against Soulja Boy this year. In January 2021, the rapper was sued for allegedly raping his personal assistant during her employment.

See How Much It’ll Cost to Get a Verse From Your Favorite RapperAny guesses on dollar amounts before you look?Filed Under: Soulja BoyCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Bianca Torres”>Bianca TorresPublished: May 4, 2021Travis Shinn Photography for XXL

More To The Story
Now a multiplatinum-selling rapper, Trippie Redd has come a long way from his SoundCloud days. He’s experienced life’s highs with the lows, and giving up isn’t an option.
Interview: Bianca Torres
Images: Travis Shinn
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Trippie Redd misses the rage. He considers himself an “in-the-field” rapper, so living in a pandemic this past year and being unable to tour have been challenging for the 21-year-old artist. However, Trippie, born Michael Lamar White II, is in a good place right now. It’s Feb. 24, 2021, five days after the wild artist dropped his first rock album, Pegasus: Neon Shark vs Pegasus Presented By Travis Barker (Deluxe), which serves as the deluxe edition of his 2020 Pegasus LP and was executive produced by Travis Barker, a much-celebrated drummer in the rock industry. Donning red dreads, a blue tank top and a red fitted hat with a godfather-type blunt, Trippie, a Canton, Ohio-raised, Los Angeles-based rhymer Zooms with XXL from the West Coast and speaks about feeling pleased with his latest release and cooking up the next one on the way.

As a multiplatinum-selling rapper—Trippie has four double-platinum songs, eight platinum and 17 gold, plus four gold projects—he thrives as a live performer. That’s how the “Love Scars” artist built his success starting in 2016, interacting with his supporters face-to-face, being open about his emotions and making relatable music—three albums, including 2019’s No. 1 Billboard 200-charting A Love Letter to You 4, and four mixtapes worth. He’s gone from being an opening act on Travis Scott’s Astroworld Tour to headlining his own. Since he’s been “locked away” in the house with his four dogs and two cats because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trippie’s been making more heat in the studio, readying himself for the day he can get back on the stage.

While he awaits the moment he can say “Big 14” to a roaring crowd, here, Trippie discusses his top five favorite rappers of all time, weird sandwiches he ate as a child, coping with loss, Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti being the new pioneers of change in hip-hop and more.

XXL: How are you today?

Trippie Redd: Good. I was mad as fuck, for real, ’cause I was supposed to see my car today. But, the guy is on some weird shit, talking ’bout, “Ain’t nobody in the place today.” I’ve been waiting for my car for like, five months.

Travis Shinn Photography for XXL

What’s going on with your car?

Nothin’, I was just getting it customized. I had ordered like, special rims. I ordered a Porsche spoiler. I got a CA Corvette. I just be customizing it and shit. Putting the wrap on… It was all white. I made it all chrome red and I put a wide-body kit on it. It’s the first CA Corvette to be wide-body.

You dropped your rock album, Neon Shark vs Pegasus, in February. What made you have Travis Barker executive produce it?

I mean, Travis Barker, he like the G.O.A.T. in the rock world/hip-hop space, you feel me? I just wanted to go specifically in the realm and really do that shit. I sat back and watched X[XXTentacion] do it. I went straight to where he went.

A couple of rappers went the rock route. Are there any that you look up to?

Kid Cudi and Lil Wayne. I definitely listened to their projects and studied and really was just taking game from what they had been doing. I wanted to do it completely different from them, but at the same time I wanted to get some inspiration from them.

You were recently in the studio with Ski Mask The Slump God. Do you guys have a collab coming?

Yeah, he’s supposed to be on my next album.

Is that the Trip at Night album?


Trip at Night, is that something you’re gonna drop this year?

Hopefully. I’m focused on dropping songs right now.

On social media, you post about missing the rage. What exactly is the rage?

Shit, I been locked away. I’m one of them people that’s at the festivals, I come out going crazy out the rips. I’m ready to get back to my stage presence. I’m tired of this shit. I’m tired of sitting in the house ’cause that’s all I been doing.

With all the COVID shit going on, I was just in my creative space making music that I really fucked with. But, at the same time, I’m making music that I really feel like was bigger than the last shit I just dropped, you feel me? It got to the point where I was like, I should drop this shit. Then I was like, you know what? I’ma give them Pegasus. It already done leaked and all that extra shit, but fuck it, I’ma give it to them. And keep this other shit.

Is that the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make during the pandemic? Not doing live shows?

Yeah, I call myself a “in-the-field” rapper, which means like, I really be out here. I really be going to all the festivals, all the shit that people just pop out to. So, without that being around or going on, I just be trying to keep up with everything that’s been going on. I’m ready to get the fuck back out and do my job.

You write Dipset as a caption for your Instagram posts when it comes to Juice Wrld and XXXTentacion. What does Dipset mean to you?

That’s how I felt being around my boys, you feel me? All that Dipset shit. And, one of my favorite Chief Keef songs is called “Dipset.” It got that at the beginning of the song, “Dipset, Dipset, Dipset.”

You’ve lost fellow rappers X, Juice Wrld and Fredo Santana. How do you cope with all that at such a young age?

I only got into rapping because my brother rapped and he died. He had passed away in a car accident. Just watching him like, record, make music, just come home with new songs and shit, was always just amazing to me. Like, I’ll sit right there and listen to everything he just did… I thought that shit was just one of the firest things in the world.

Even just knowing I dealt with that at a young age… I was like 9, 10, but that’s what really got me rapping for real was me losing him. I knew I was gonna experience loss down the line, but I never knew, like, it was gonna hit that hard. I didn’t think it was gonna be like that.

Shit bothers me, kinda. But I just, like, smoke and think about them, make music and just try to make it seem like…they live in my head. They alive to me, shit. I can’t lose every moment I had with them. I didn’t lose that, so I don’t look at it like no loss. My brothers [are] just resting.

What advice can you give to the younger generation on how to cope with loss? We lose people to drugs or street violence, now we have COVID−19.

From a personal perspective when it comes to loss, it’s just like, I put all my energy into doing everything in my power to impress those that are not here instead of impressing those that are here. Would my brothers fuck with this?

I deal with it by keeping them in my head and just not letting go. They can ultimately help you drive to get to where you need to get, feel me? I just feel like I can’t give up. They wouldn’t want me to give up. They didn’t want to give up. If they was here they wouldn’t have gave up at all. Everybody that I done lost, from friends to family, brothers, whatever. I just try to put them all on my back.

I just lost my great-grandma not too long ago. Like, two months ago and she was the sweetest person I ever met in my life, no cap. She made me the weirdest sandwich one time ’cause I wanted it.

What sandwich was it?

I used to make her toast the bread, put butter on it and put mayonnaise and put peanut butter on it and then put a piece of turkey or ham. It was just me being on some little kid fat shit. She used to really make me the sandwich. She always brought it up to me every time I used to see her, since I had blew up and shit. Now, I think about that shit like, Damn, I might have to eat one of them sandwiches.

Lil Wayne is one of your favorite rappers. He’s featured on your song “Hell Rain.” How does it feel to have a feature from a rapper you used to look up to?

Honestly, that was like the biggest moments of my life. I actually did the song before I made the song with Lil Wayne. I had did two to three songs with Lil Wayne before then. And, I never really put them out.

Travis Shinn Photography for XXL

Who are your top five rappers of all time?

Aight, Wayne, Drake… I’ma just say everything I really listen to. Like, the most music I’ve ever listened to from an artist… These gotta be my favorites because I clearly listen to them more than everybody else. So, Wayne, Drake, I gotta put André [3000] in there. [Lil] Uzi [Vert] and [Playboi] Carti. I listen to they shit a lot.

Listening to Uzi’s shit back in 2015-16, that shit was different. And Carti, at that time. They was on some other shit for the young niggas. They did some crazy shit for us. They really opened doors for us to do a lot of shit that we do.You know, the niggas from the SoundCloud era might not say it too much, but definitely, they some of the G.O.A.T.s from our era.

They made it permissible to not look or sound like a typical rapper.

They made change OK. Change is OK in every aspect because of them artists. Wayne kicked if off with the face tatts and the grills. Them niggas kicked down the door on some whole other shit. Just being completely different. Just like André 3000 was weird. He was different, too. He’s a great guy, though. Wayne, too.

Do you have three favorite rap albums of all time?

People gonna hate me, but… [Tha] Carter III and [Tha] Carter IV. Carter IV crazy. And, when you run Carter III then run Carter IV, you like, What the fuck?! Crazy, I can’t live without those two albums. And, I’m not gonna lie… ? [album], the shit that X did. That’s one of my favorite projects hands down because of the versatility and how he just masters doing everything on the scoreboard.

So, are you gonna drop A Love Letter to You 5?

Ain’t nobody broke my heart yet.

OK, you need a heartbreak to drop it.

I’m just fuckin’ with ya. I’m definitely working on love music as well as turnt up, “miss the rage”-type shit, but that’s later. I’ma drop the turnt shit first. I be dropping so much love shit, I’m like, let me take a break from love. I only did one album that had nothing to do with love and that was Life’s a Trip. Only one song on there had something to do with love and that was like, the last song.

Do you have your own label yet?

Yeah, but I haven’t like, it’s about to be put together. Like, by the end of the year, I’ll have it set up to where it’s supposed to be. I find a lot of great artists. I really done seen a lot of great artists just strive from nothing to being one of the biggest rappers in the game.

I got people from where I’m from, Canton, Ohio, and Ohio in general that I feel like are amazing artists and I wanna put them on. Miyah [Lynnae, my artist] not from there, but she’s just hard. And, someone from Ohio recommended her to me, so that’s why I even…feel me? She’s super dope. We just have to mold her into the right type of artist. She needs to find herself. That’s what she’s working on.

Do you have a name for your label?

Might be called August, for real, what it’s probably gonna be called. But, I might call it something else. I don’t know.

We’ve seen some pictures surface of your old Facebook page. What was Trippie like as a kid?

I seen a lot of shit. I went through a lot of shit, like, to see all of my older cousins get out of jail… Just the process of my dad being in jail the whole time as a kid… I had to take them visits to jail like every other fuckin’ week. That shit was crazy, just seeing that. I really loved video games as a kid, too. And hanging out with people that liked Pokémon, shit like that. I would steal people’s Pokémon cards and shit. As a kid, this was one of my favorite things to listen to and I didn’t even know I was listening to it [holds up a CD of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill].

What’s your ultimate goal in life?

I don’t really got no ultimate goal. I just wanna improve and get better. I don’t really got too much on my mind to do, musically. Anything in music I wanna accomplish fo’ sho but it’s not my life goal. Be happy, you know? Live my life the way I want to.

Travis Shinn Photography for XXL

Check out more from XXL’s Spring 2021 issue including Cardi B's cover story, how rappers are legally making money from the cannabis boom and the social justice that comes with itSnowfall's Damson Idris on how hip-hop impacted his life, A$AP Ferg reflects on the making of his Always Strive and Prosper album, Shelley F.K.A. DRAM talks about his comeback and more.

See Cardi B's Photo Shoot in XXL Magazine's Spring 2021 Issue

Filed Under: Feature, Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, Trippie Redd, XXL MagazineCategories: News, XXL Magazine

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Aleia Woods”>Aleia WoodsPublished: April 28, 2021We tv

What's Happenin'
Waka Flocka Flame is on fire with another season of his TV show and new music on the way.
Interview: Aleia Woods
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Waka Flocka Flame, known for his anthemic party hits that span across the last decade, also has a few other proud titles under his belt: husband, father and reality show star. Waka, his wife Tammy Rivera and their daughter Charlie have entered the second season of their We tv reality series, Waka & Tammy: What the Flocka. When the 35-year-old rapper isn’t in front of the camera, he’s teasing new music for his upcoming album, Flockaveli 2. Check out what Waka has to say about both of his careers.

XXL: You’ve said that you wanted your reality show to be like the modern version of The Cosby Show, with you promoting family and fatherhood. How does it feel to be a rapper that’s promoting this type of positivity?

Waka Flocka Flame: I’m just living the purpose of God. I know why I’m living and to live is to show love. And for me to show love, I can’t be in love. Being in love is an emotion, so I gotta show love. This is what I wanna do. I’m 35 years old. I’m looking forward to being 40. My daughter is about to be 16 years old. I’m looking forward to her being 18. For the first time, I had a little boy come to my house for Valentine’s Day and exchange flowers with my daughter and he came with his mother. That’s a moment money can’t buy. Even though I did not like it, I was mad as shit, but it still felt good to experience that. Even with the shit I’ve been through with my wife, I wish to God I never in my life hurt her. As a 35-year-old man, I know exactly what I have to do. Now, it’s like, shit [what] I’m doing today, it’s ’cause I wanna do it. ’Cause God is allowing me to do it. Shit feels good and it’s no sucker shit.

You’ve been talking about dropping Flockaveli 2 for a little bit. Is there anything you can say about the new music that’s coming?

Yes. What I’ma do is, I’ma drop a CD before Flockaveli 2. I feel like I was selling fans short of Flockaveli 2 and I was selling them short of an EP. Fans ain’t get no dope tape out of me yet. Before they had a good album, they had some fire-ass records, fire-ass CDs to listen to and build on my sound and learn how to fall in love with it. That’s the approach I’m taking now. I’m about to get ready to drop a record called 8 Ball. I named it 8 Ball ’cause I feel like I got the game in the corner pocket.

Do you have a timeline of when fans will get 8 Ball?

It was gonna be March, but I had a clearance issue on one record and it fucked that up. They definitely gonna get it before my birthday, May 31, though. I got my single that I’m putting out it’s called “Wet” and another single I’m putting out. I’m putting them out together ’cause I’m a Gemini, so I gotta split ’em. And I got a record called “Dread Shaking.”

Everyone is still dealing with the pandemic. What adjustments have you made that you will continue to do in your normal life?

During the lockdown, I realized that the man in the mirror was my biggest enemy. That was the person…myself. I healed myself. I swear, this lockdown taught me how to heal myself. And now, I feel like…that shit made me love myself, yo. It made me know that I was born to show love to people. That’s what made me big as a rapper because I showed love to everybody. That’s what made me good in the streets because I showed love to everybody.

Are you considering getting vaccinated?

No. I’m not doing it. Nothing in the world would make me get the vaccine. Not no money, not no law, nothing. If I can’t fly, then guess what? I’m gon’ drive the muthafucka. If I can’t interact with people, I’m cool. I’ll isolate myself, stay on my stage. Isolate myself, get off stage. But I’m not taking no vaccine. My medicine grows on trees. My medicine is tree bark, so I’m good.

Check out more from XXL’s Spring 2021 issue including Cardi B's cover story, how rappers are legally making money from the cannabis boom and the social justice that comes with itSnowfall's Damson Idris on how hip-hop impacted his life, A$AP Ferg reflects on the making of his Always Strive and Prosper album, Shelley F.K.A. DRAM talks about his comeback and more.

See Cardi B's Photo Shoot in XXL Magazine's Spring 2021 Issue

Filed Under: Feature, Waka Flocka Flame, XXL MagazineCategories: News, XXL Magazine

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Kathy Iandoli”>Kathy IandoliPublished: April 26, 2021Alex Harper

Real As It Gets
Shelley, formerly known as DRAM, is coming off five years of ups and downs, but with new music and a new moniker, he’s ready to come clean.
Interview: Kathy Iandoli
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

“Let me do this, please!” says Shelley with earnest desperation, as if he’s addressing a petulant child. The 32-year-old artist formerly known as DRAM is having a stare down contest with his dog, Idnit, the 5-year-old Goldendoodle who graced the cover of Shelley’s 2015 debut album, Big Baby DRAM. Idnit is standing erect like a statue, paws firmly planted into the couch. The paws are dyed a lovely shade of shocking pink. Every time Shelley tries to speak, Idnit’s bark elevates an octave until the pup finally acquiesces and runs away. It’s been over five years since both the rapper and dog were smiling in an embrace on the cover of what was Shelley’s certified gold introduction into the music business. A lot has changed since then, as the Grammy Award-nominated artist once called DRAM is seemingly no more.

Born Shelley Marshaun Massenburg-Smith, the rapper-singer spent half a decade in a vacuum of sorts. The success of Shelley’s debut single “Cha Cha” was the catalyst that sparked a movement, further fueled by his seven-times platinum single “Broccoli” featuring Lil Yachty. A cosign from Beyoncé only added to the fanfare, as Shelley became a household name in almost record time. Known for upbeat songs about love and other vices, the acronym DRAM (which stood for Does Real Ass Music) stopped having meaning, at least to its owner. Shelley was always “on,” whether maintaining the pressure to keep a branded smile or ramped up on drugs and alcohol. It’s a story that could have ended in tragedy, yet it didn’t.

Thanks to an intervention from friends, Shelley went into addiction remission—though he doesn’t count weed as a drug—changed his eating and exercising habits, and lost close to 60 pounds during the heart of the pandemic last year. The symptoms of success are hard to treat, but he did it and succeeded. Then, in November of 2020, he lost his mother, who the world knew as “Big Baby Mom.” The subject of her death he’s still not ready to fully discuss. The grief could have rocked him back into inertia, yet he’s staying the course in her honor. What started as an identity crisis has resulted in self-discovery. His 2021 follow-up album, Shelley FKA DRAM, arriving April 30, features him completely singing, accented with cameos from artists like H.E.R., Summer Walker and Erykah Badu, his previous collaborator on “WiFi.”

This is more than a return to his government name; Shelley is ready for his reintroduction, only this time he’s prepared for stardom and everything that it brings. Read on as the Virginia native, who is “ready for all of the opportunities and situations that come,” opens up during a Zoom chat about his new album, the battle he had with drugs, making his mother happy, shedding the excess weight and all the lessons he’s learned along the way.

XXL: How would you describe the five years in between your albums, Big Baby DRAM and Shelley FKA DRAM?

Shelley: When the debut album dropped, I was new, but I still was kind of around for a couple years, just doin’ “Cha Cha” and “Broccoli.” I still wasn’t really hip to what life was like at a top-tier level, with that much exposure, that much attention, that much going on. Everything was good. It was goin’ right or whatever, but at the same time, all these other things just started coming in. The thing is, they don’t really present themselves as signs like, “Hey, this is this issue coming right at you, move to the left or deal with it.” It just slides right in. And so, I just let things slide right in because I was on a roll.

I was on the road. I was on a ride. I was performing at the very least two times a week— flights here and there, on the tour bus, get off the tour bus, catch a flight, come back home. Boom, boom, boom… I don’t know, it came to a point where I had this crazy project, but I was sitting on an issue that outweighs anything… You can’t trump the shit that I was facing low-key, you know? So, it’s a real eye-opener when your family comes to your door and basically has that sit-down and you’re like, man, if I didn’t choose me and I chose my career first, what was I really doin’?

And when you say the “issue,” may I ask what is the “issue” that you’re speaking about?

I think the main source of the whole concoction was gettin’ fucked up, man. Like weed, I would never look at weed as a drug, but outside of weed, there’s all these other things, like I can really put it away. I could drink damn near a fifth a day. I did the powder. I did all of the drugs. I was on some real rock star shit. I think the main hold on me was the alcohol, the cocaine, you know, stuff like Xanax, that came third place. But I mean, the sleeves and the liq, they was like neck and neck.

And, you know, I’m still me and I was still me then…but it just put me in the company of some crazy shit and in the midst of some wild situations. That wasn’t really the way to go if I was go- ing to continue to be successful in this… Somewhere there’s gonna be a stop in the lane… And I’d rather just be open about it, you know, I’m saying rather than just feel like I gotta give some mysterious type of reason why I was gone. Like bro, I was fucked up, the music was done. I wasn’t in shape to even put out the change that I was going through, musically. It had to match up with my lifestyle as well.

Even though this new album was done before you made a change, it still sounds noticeably different from your first LP.

Yeah, because musically, I know where I want to take shit even if I’m in twacked out moments. It might have been something inspired from when I’m twacked out, like, I want to elevate up. I want to take my sound to where you’re gonna have to reach so far to try to emulate it. I just want to bring it to an untouchable level. I want people to see the growth and to grow with it.

The DRAM moniker got associated with so many other things, and just these few handful of records and this handful of vibes and just like, this thing that became its own persona… It really was supposed to be a credo to me, because DRAM stands for Does Real Ass Music, so when it stopped becoming a credo, and it started becoming more of a pseudo, like, wow.

Alex Harper

When you got to the point where you were putting this project together—regardless of the static that was going on around you—what was your mindset, musically?

So, the process of making this project really happened around the process of That’s a Girl Name EP coming because I already knew, some way or another like, we’re gonna work my government into this. I didn’t really know that I was just gonna straight up drop the DRAM or whatever, but I knew that we were leading into that. You know, I love my name.

I was making these records with Josh [Abraham] and Oligee [Oliver Goldstein] over at Pulse [Recordings]. I was making records with [producer Andrew] Watt over at his spot or whatever. I was just all the way locked in. Everyone was so on board with me trying to make these heightened songs, but like, going back into the roots of things. The roots of what made certain music shine and then switching and doing different things where you get the “Best Hugs” record, “Sundress,” what have you.

Around that same time, I made “The Lay Down,” and we were sitting on that record for about a whole year and some change before we even did the video to that. Then we sat on that for a whole year and some change before we continued the rollout. I feel like it took some time for me to transition and for also the fans to realize like, there’s no turning back from this route that I’m going. So ever since That’s a Girls Name EP, the agenda was to elevate, and I think that those three songs were a good buffer from that previous world leading into this, even if we did it subconsciously.

In terms of your health, skinny legend over there, how did your mind change your body? What have you done?

I was never really like, “Yo, look at me. I need to change.” I did a little bit of lifting or whatever, some of the light shit, but then outside shut off, and you can’t do anything. I started cooking. I got into that. Then I see Sean, one of my managers, he had posted a video on his story of him running in the field with one of those things attached—not the parachute, but the weighted bags. I’m just like, “Damn, nigga, you out here workin’ out? No invites?” I’m just being funny. He’s like, “Bro, come out here.”

That was my first day. I’ll never forget, it was April 22 of last year… I stepped out there, and I had no idea what I was getting into… I could only run like, a half of a lap, but like, I started seeing everybody doing shit and I got motivated. Like, I’m not going to be the worst one out here, and I’m not going to look defeated. So, I kept coming back. Then I just started seeing results come just off of dedicating myself. It’s a pandemic, ain’t nothing else to do. You got a group of guys where everybody fuck with each other or whatever to run outside and be good. And that’s just what we did. It was just a thing. It was therapeutic… Then my body started feeling like I had to keep doing it. And next thing you know… I lost like 50-60 pounds off the strength.

How were you able to keep your mind clear after you started going through grief with losing your mom in November, because it would have been really easy to just sit on your bed with a bag of chips and liquor. But you’re still maintaining.

I will just say this one thing: I know that [change] made her happy. She knew about the life I was living, and that’s not what she would have wanted. So, that was all the motivation I needed. It still hurts, but as long as I keep on this path, I know that I’m still holding up to what she was happy about.

How was your thought process different leading up to this project versus the first?

It’s like, I can see things with a clear eye… I think my perception and my awareness of things have just gone up. I’m just so ready for all of the opportunities and situations that come. I feel like I’ve armored myself with awareness. I mean, it helped my voice clearly. I’m really ready to get back on the stage. I did this one little car lot show thing for like, a senator in Georgia and shit, man, I noticed I’m like, Damn, I got them pipes? I’m back! It was so fire. I felt like, Damn, I could really do it for the full hour.

I feel like I prepared myself with just good blood pressure. I could walk around. I just ran for damn near two miles today. So, it just has me more prepared and more ready and eager for all the opportunities that come and I’m not letting things slip through my fingers. You know, be it low grip or high ego.

What do you think is the one lesson that you learned the first time around that you’re bringing with you this time?

Don’t think that deeply into it. Don’t take everything to heart… Don’t take business personal and put them in two completely different bales.

What are you most excited about this time around?

The music. I’m so excited for the body of work… There’s so much more in store… I’m really about cementing this sound, cementing this presence.

So, no more breaks for a bit?

No more breaks for a bit.

Alex Harper

Check out more from XXL’s Spring 2021 issue including Cardi B's cover story, how rappers are legally making money from the cannabis boom and the social justice that comes with itSnowfall's Damson Idris on how hip-hop impacts his life, A$AP Ferg reflecting on the five-year anniversary of his Always Strive and Prosper album, and more.

See Cardi B's Photo Shoot in XXL Magazine's Spring 2021 Issue

Filed Under: D.R.A.M., Feature, XXL MagazineCategories: News, XXL Magazine

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Zoe Johnson”>Zoe JohnsonPublished: April 23, 2021Travis Shinn for XXL

In a sea of melodic rappers and emotional lyrics, Rod Wave has risen to the top of the waters, achieving success with his first No. 1 album, SoulFly, earlier this month. The 22-year-old's broody bravado on the LP documents the harrowing tales of life in St. Petersburg, Fla., losing love and his route to hip-hop stardom. Rod's trademark crooning is supported by stellar production that carries the weight of his emotional musings.

His 2019 single "Heart on Ice" is indicative of that. Soulful pianos flood the track before 808s drop in, courtesy of Speaker Bangerz, Malik and DiCaprio Beatz behind the boards, while Rod's passionate voice commands center stage. A Rod Wave type beat is easy to find because there are specific production components each of his tracks exemplify—passionate instrumentation and stacked drums—and rising producers are honing in on that sound.

With eight projects to his name so far, one of the highlights is his 2020 album, Pray 4 Love, which also came with a deluxe last year. The LP peaked at No.1 on the Billboard 200 on April 18, 2020. The 2020 XXL Freshman's 25-track deluxe quarantine pack, featuring Yo Gotti, Lil Baby and ATR Son Son, housed the homegrown hit "Rags2Riches" with ATR Son Son. The tinkling piano keys, two pads, a bell, drums, hi-hats, snare and 808s made by Daysix and Zypitano. "Letter From Houston" takes a similar form with a track featuring piano, drums and hi-hats crafted by four beatsmiths: LondnBlue, Karltin Bankz, TnTXD and Tahj Money.

SoulFly, the Alamo Records signee's third studio album, displays a progressive take on Rod's typical choice in beat. Like most of his songs, the production is mainly mid-tempo, but Rod is making bolder choices with instrumentation. "Street Runner," crafted by Karltin Bankz, LondnBlue and TnTXD, is an example of Rod's daring choices. The four-minute track begins with a sample of singer Ruth B.'s "Mixed Signals" then dives into melodic keys, drums and 808s.

The rapper, born Rodarius Marcell Green, takes his listener to church with his lyrics and the production he sings over. A Rod Wave production is inherently spiritual, even if the rapper's primary focus isn't to rhyme about God. Here are some examples of Rod Wave type beats below.

See the Best Hip-Hop Projects of 2020

Filed Under: Rod WaveCategories: Type Beats

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Zoe Johnson”>Zoe JohnsonPublished: April 22, 2021Prince Williams, Getty Images

NLE Choppa is using his platform to speak out against police violence in the U.S.

On Wednesday (April 21), NLE Choppa penned a tweet to his more than 968,800 Twitter followers describing his feelings on police brutality. In the 267-character message, the 2020 XXL Freshman likened the killings of U.S. citizens by police officers to "premeditated murder."

"At this point these police officers doing premeditated murders. These ain’t coincidences, this shit getting planned before it even happens just to keep us vibrating low and wanting justice that we not getting. Only a matter of time before these marches turn into war war 💯," he tweeted.

The Memphis-bred rapper's comments come after the trial of Derek Chauvin, a White former Minneapolis, Minn. police officer, who murdered George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in May of 2020, earlier this week. Chauvin was found guilty of all charges on Tuesday (April 20). A group of 12 jurors found Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Many members of the hip-hop community showed up and showed out on social media, celebrating Chauvin's conviction. However, the victory was short-lived. Shortly before the former cop was convicted, Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl based in Columbus, Ohio, was shot and killed by a White police officer named Nicholas Reardon, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

The shooting of Ma'Khai Bryant is currently making headlines. Video footage shows the moment that Ma'Khai Bryant was killed on April 20 at around 4:45 p.m., moments before Chauvin's verdict in George Floyd's murder was announced. The Columbus Dispatch reports that police allegedly showed up at Bryant's foster care residence following a call to 911. The call to police came in at 4:32 p.m. The unidentified caller asked police to come and said someone was trying to stab them as screaming could be heard. The call was disconnected before the police dispatcher tried to get more information on what was occurring. Bryant was reportedly in an altercation with other girls.

Bryant was holding a knife when police officer Reardon arrived on the scene. In video of the incident, Bryant makes a movement toward another young woman, and that woman falls down. Bryant then made a move toward another young woman. Reardon said "Get down" and then fired his gun at Bryant, who was shot and killed. Four shots were heard.

Ma'Khia Bryant's aunt, Hazel Bryant, later told Daily Beast that her niece was defending herself against several adult women who came to the foster home to start an altercation with Ma'Khia Bryant. Hazel Bryant said her niece grabbed a knife to defend herself.

“The police are going to lie. I’m so thankful that someone from the family was actually on the scene,” Hazel Bryant said. “The police are going to lie. The police are going to cover up for themselves. They don’t care. At this point, I feel like they’re just out to kill Black people. They’re not here to protect and serve. That isn’t happening. That’s been over a long time ago. They’re not here to protect and serve. They’re here to kill Black folks."

In addition to NLE Choppa speaking about his feelings on police this week, he had his own run-in with cops last month. On March 28, NLE Choppa was arrested in Davie, Fla. for charges of Burglary Unoccupied Structure Unarmed, Carrying a Concealed Firearm, Possession of Cannabis 20 Grams Less/Synth Cann 3 GMs Less and Possession of Alprazolam (Xanax).

The rapper admitted to police that he jumped over a gate into a tow yard to retrieve a watch from a vehicle that was towed from a separate incident. However, the vehicle was not in the tow lot. Cops found a Glock 27 and AK-47 Draco pistol in vehicle Choppa and two other men were found in at the scene of the crime. Seven grams of marijuana and three-and-a-half Xanax pills were also found in a backpack in the vehicle. Choppa admitted the bag belonged to him.

NLE Choppa has since been released from jail.

See the Most Memorable Lyrics From Rappers Under 25

Filed Under: NLE ChoppaCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Bianca Torres”>Bianca TorresPublished: April 21, 2021Raven B. Verona

Show Out
Snowfall star Damson Idris uses hip-hop as a soundtrack for his life.
Interview: Bianca Torres
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, coming soon.

Damson Idris’ adoration for hip-hop has helped him with his role as Franklin Saint, his character on the hit FX series Snowfall. Born and raised in Peckham, U.K., Damson, 29, was first introduced to old school hip-hop by his older brother then later on to more current hip-hop by his friends. The actor was a huge fan of 50 Cent, but also took to other U.S. artists such as Jay-Z, Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. along with U.K. artists like Giggs and Ghetts.

Here, Damson discusses listening to classic West Coast hip-hop on set, his love for Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent, working with WC and how hip-hop is his soundtrack for life.

XXL: What was the hip-hop scene like in London when you were growing up?

Damson Idris: Me and all my friends loved 50 Cent. Especially, when Get Rich or Die Tryin’ came out. Me and my close friend, we actually used to wear the G-Unit sneakers. Yeah, we were die-hard fans, man. I loved that whole album. It was mostly gangsta rap when I was growing up. But, on the U.K. side, my brother Giggs. That’s the music I loved.

What was it about hip-hop that made you a fan?

The thing that made me a fan of hip-hop was it’s unapologetically Blackness. Hip-hop was just itself. It was unapologetically hip-hop. Whatever that artist was feeling in that moment, that artist was going to say. That has complemented the roles I play, how I play them and the stories I wanna tell. The stories I wanna tell are unapologetic stories that talk about the Black experience and show us in our truth. Show us in our positive light and negative light, but above all things, show us in general.

Snowfall takes place in Los Angeles during the 1980s. Do you listen to hip-hop from that era to prepare for the show?

I listen to a lot of Ice Cube. His voice…when you put Ice Cube on, it’s like you instantly go into character, man. I was listening to a lot of Snoop [Dogg], too, man. That’s my big bro right now. To be listening to him to get into character, now he’s my friend? He texts me. That’s a crazy full circle moment. His “Gin and Juice” and “187 [Deep Cover]” and “[Who Am I] (What’s My Name?).” All of that stuff really helped me. YG, The Game… Everyone out in the West Coast had a part in Franklin Saint.

You’ve worked with rappers on the Franklin Saint character, right? Wasn’t WC your accent coach?

Yeah, so [creator] John Singleton brought in WC in the beginning. Not so much for dialect because I already knew how to do the accent. That’s why they wanted to give me the part. It was more so just stories, the soul, the culture. There were stories and conversations that me and WC had that you’d never know unless you were from that time.

If you’re from South Central, L.A. and you’ve got the part of Franklin, you would still be like, Let me see… That’s how rooted and authentic this man is. If you weren’t that age from that time, you’ll never understand. You’ll always have unanswered questions. So, that’s what I needed WC for in the first season. And then, I was like, “Look, I need you here forever. You’re not going anywhere.” Because when I see WC on set, I just feel safer. We all feel safer. I said, “I got this, but every single actor who comes in here isn’t from here. The same way you taught me to walk the walk, I want you to do that for them, too.”

Are there any rappers that you’d like to meet one day that you haven’t already?

I feel like I’ve met every rapper from the top to the bottom. And, if I haven’t met them in person, they’ve hit me on the DM to show love. It’s such a pop culture show. I’ll be hanging out with Tyler, The Creator to Diddy to [A$AP] Rocky, to whoever. To YG, to [Drake] and OVO. Everyone’s really supportive of my journey.

Is there a rap album that you can’t live without?

Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly.“The Blacker the Berry” is my favorite Kendrick Lamar song.

It’s safe to say that hip-hop is your playlist for the turn up.

Spot on, yeah! When I’m ready to flex.

Check out more from XXL’s Spring 2021 issue including Cardi B's cover story, how rappers are legally making money from the cannabis boom and the social justice that comes with it and more.

See Cardi B's Photo Shoot in XXL Magazine's Spring 2021 Issue

Filed Under: 50 Cent, Damson Idris, Feature, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, WC, XXL MagazineCategories: News, XXL Magazine

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Aleia Woods”>Aleia WoodsPublished: April 16, 2021ArAb TGOP via YouTube

Philadelphia rapper Ar-Ab has been handed his fate by a Pennsylvania judge who sentenced him to 45 years in prison this week for his alleged involvement in a drug trafficking ring.

According to a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday (April 15), the 38-year-old rhymer, born Abdul West, has been hit with a nearly five-decade long sentence after being found guilty in 2019 of turning his label, Original Block Hustlaz (OBH), into a drug ring that allegedly implicated at least one murder.

Prosecutors in the case alleged that Ar-Ab was involved in the 2017 murder of Robert Johnson, a supposed drug rival, and attempted to have at least one member from Johnson's family testify in court. However, according to court documents obtained by XXL on Friday (April 16), U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson filed a motion prohibiting any "victim statements or live testimony with regard to the death of Robert Johnson."

The Inquirer notes that the judge reiterated that Ar-Ab's alleged connection to Johnson's death was not considered in the rapper's sentencing. Nor were his lyrics, which oftentimes focus on drug dealing and life in the streets.

Instead, Judge Baylson reportedly said that Ar-Ab's 45-year sentence is due to his "antisocial behavior." The judge was quoted saying, "You could have been a hero instead of a criminal. But you became a drug dealer. You made that decision. That’s why you’re being punished."

While in court, prosecutors reportedly argued that Ar-Ab's lyrics were more than just music, they were admissions of crimes that had taken place. Prosecutors also claimed that lyrics reportedly found in the rapper's phone were written four days after Johnson's death. The lyrics reportedly read, "I’ll have da whole city scared/Stand near home/I call Taz and tell him/Bring dat nigga’s head to me," tied Ar to the murder. Dontez “Taz” Stewart, a member of Ar-Ab's crew, pleaded guilty to Johnson's murder.

Additional statements were made in court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Everett R. Witherell about Ar-Ab's lyrics. "This wasn’t a case against gangsta rap," Witherell said. "Mr. West made it clear not just in his lyrics but in his social media that people should be afraid of him and his willingness to resort to violence."

The rapper reportedly maintained his innocence regarding Robert Johnson's death during his court appearance.

During the trial, Ar-Ab reportedly addressed the court and said, "The court, the FBI agents, and the prosecutors don’t understand my culture. We don’t rap about flowers and rainbows. We’re gangsta rappers. We rap about where we grew up. So we rap about drug dealing. We rap about violence."

On Tuesday (April 13), just two days before his trial, Ar-Ab posted a statement via Instagram, briefly speaking on his plans to appeal his case. "Sentencing week…don’t expect no leniency from them folks…but I’ll be right back on appeal," the caption reads.

About two years ago, Ar-Ab was found guilty of conspiracy, distribution of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. The substances were cocaine (five kilograms), crack (280 grams or more), methamphetamine (50 grams or more) and heroin (over 100 grams), according to United States Attorney's Office press release from 2018—when the rapper was first charged. When Ar-Ab was convicted in November of 2019, he was facing at least 15 years behind bars.

Ar-Ab's codefendants Jamaal Blanding, Jameel Hickson, Richard Chase Hoover, Dontez Stewart, Amir Boyer, Daryl Baker, Hans Gadson and Dennis Harmon were hit with charges including possession with intent to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, crack and heroin, distribution of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of a firearm back in 2018.

They also maintained that Original Block Hustlaz was not a drug trafficking ring and instead a legit record label.

Ar-Ab first made a name for himself through his association with fellow Philly rapper Cassidy and was connected to Cass' involuntary manslaughter case in 2005. Ar has also feuded with Meek Mill in the past, but the two later mended fences and squashed their beef. In 2016, Ar-Ab signed a deal with Cash Money Records.

XXL has reached out to the Philadelphia courts for a comment on this matter.

See 22 Hip-Hop-Related Police Raids

Filed Under: AR-AbCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: April 13, 2021Steven Ferdman, Getty Images / Scott Dudelson, Getty Images for Coachella / Steve Jennings, FilmMagic

Rappers can teach us a lot about life. Whether it's through their personality, music career or business moves, there are plenty of artists that have taught fans how to be successful in hip-hop that wasn't done before.

Travis Scott has proved that brand loyalty pays off in big dividends. His connection with his fans (a.k.a. ragers) makes him the ultimate brand ambassador. From his Astroworld Tour to just showing up for a pop-up event, his supporters go wild and faithfully buy up anything he's promoting—Playstation consoles, his Cacti drink and McDonald's merch, to name a few. The Cactus Jack leader taught us all that rage is key any time any place.

Other artists simply school everyone with their personalities. J. Cole is one of the most respected MCs and producers in the game, but he doesn't want to be put on a pedestal. On various songs in his catalog, the North Carolina rhymer often urges fans to love themselves and not look for external things to make them feel good. "No such thing as a life that's better than yours (Love yourz)," he raps on "Love Yourz."

When it comes to Juice Wrld, he built a whole legion of fans known as the 999 family after sharing his ethos of turning the negative aspects in life into positivity. “999 represents taking whatever ill, whatever bad situation, whatever struggle you’re going through and turning it into something positive to push yourself forward,” Juice Wrld told Sway during an MTV interview in 2018, explaining that he flipped the number 666, a sign used to signify the Devil.

Meanwhile, rap superstar Megan Thee Stallion has shown the world that being a hot girl is for everyone, no matter the gender. She's fearless when it comes to her sexuality and womanhood, and reps the hot girl lifestyle to the fullest. Additionally, fellow rapper Cardi B has allowed her unapologetic personality and outspokenness to help teach fans to be true to themselves.

As far as getting to the money, artists like Jay-Z have spit game on the business side of hip-hop. The rap veteran has been able to maneuver in the corporate world and show there's money to be made outside of rocking the mic. One of his most recent endeavors is infiltrating the cannabis space as Chief Visionary Officer of The Parent Company, an organization on a mission to become the most impactful cannabis company in the world, and founder of MONOGRAM, a cannabis line. Meanwhile, Kendrick Lamar has taught us all that an artist can be a cultural force in hip-hop and beyond even though he hasn't been in the spotlight for a couple of years. Command the culture in your sleep.

Whether in music or through their business or just showcasing their human side, rappers have been dropping gems that goes beyond beats and rhymes. So XXL highlights 20 ways in which rappers schooled us about life. It's much deeper than rap. Check it out below.

See 20 Ways in Which Rappers Schooled Us About Life

Filed Under: Cardi B, DaBaby, Drake, Feature, Freddie Gibbs, Galleries, Gallery, J. Cole, Jay-Z, juice wrld, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hill, Lil Baby, Lil Kim, Lil Uzi Vert, Megan Thee Stallion, nas, Nicki Minaj, Notorious B.I.G., Pop Smoke, The Notorious B.I.G., Travi$ Scott, Westside GunnCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Vanessa Satten”>Vanessa SattenPublished: April 6, 2021XXL

All The Way Up
Despite the haters, Cardi B continues to rise and prove that she's one of the most dominant and important female rappers in music history.
Interview: Vanessa Satten
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Described on its website as “the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere,” New York’s Edge at 30 Hudson Yards offers stunning 360-degree, panoramic views of New York City and New Jersey at 1,100 feet in the air. The impressive location was used in Jennifer Lopez and Maluma’s 2020 “Pa’ Ti + Lonely” video, which inspired Cardi B to want to use it for a photo shoot.

At 4 a.m. on a frigid mid-March morning, a small team of photographers, crew, glam, editors and a publicist huddle outside on Edge’s observation deck in 34-degree temperatures as Cardi poses for pictures. Despite the frigid weather and strong winds, the rapper, born Belcalis Almanzar, is focused on getting the perfect shot. Her team is lined up on the side with blankets to warm her up. Cardi’s freezing, but she keeps pushing to get the right shot. She fought to use this location and wants to make the most of it. Cardi B is no quitter. That’s the overall sense one gets when talking to the 28-year-old Bronx-born artist. She’s a fighter in every sense of the word and wants any opportunity to prove people wrong, to show she already has—or wants to learn to have—what it takes to master what’s required.

Cardi is bold, brash, controversial and caring. She’s been this way publicly since she broke onto the music scene in 2016, after appearing as a regular cast member on Love & Hip Hop: New York. It was Cardi’s wild social networking antics that first got her attention. She then eventually evolved into a reality show personality. But, it was the success of her 2017 single “Bodak Yellow” that blew her up. In March, the record went diamond, becoming the highest-certified single by a female rapper. Cardi’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy, also made history when it won Best Rap Album at the 2019 Grammy Awards. It was the first time a solo female hip-hop artist achieved the honor. All of this helped catapult Cardi—wife to Migos member Offset and mom to Kulture, 2—to superstar heights, garnering impressive musical opportunities and brand partnerships along the way.

Cardi’s interests have also expanded outside of music. The raptress acted in the 2019 movie Hustlers. She also served as a judge on the Netflix reality competition show Rhythm + Flow. Additionally, Cardi expanded her voice, politically, often speaking publicly about the 2020 presidential election. A die-hard Bernie Sanders fan, Cardi chopped it up on video with the Vermont senator during his run and also with now-president Joe Biden before his win.

It’s been three years since Invasion of Privacy dropped and fans are itching for a new album. But, Cardi’s not ready to release one just yet. She promises she will deliver it later this year and has whet hip-hop’s appetite with two smash-hit records: “WAP” featuring Megan Thee Stallion and “Up.” Both songs landed at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, giving Cardi her fourth and fifth No. 1 records, the most of any female rapper, ever. The video for “WAP” also caused a stir with its sexualized imagery and lyrics, but Cardi was unfazed and followed with a wild video for “Up.”

On the night of the 2021 Grammys, which featured a pre-recorded “WAP” performance from Cardi and Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi sits in a suite at the 1 Hotel Central Park. With wind burns on her face from the photo shoot earlier that morning, one of the most powerful and successful women in hip-hop history reflects on her journey.

XXL: Your photo shoot for this story was at a very cool location that you personally requested. How do you think it all came together? Were you happy with how it all came out?

Cardi B: I’ve been doing so much magazines and now magazines have trusted me into giving me control [with shoots]. Even huge fashion magazines, they’re trusting me more now into giving control of how I want my editorial looks and what I think looks amazing. And, that’s what I like to show. I like to show people that I could do it really great. That’s what I’ve been learning. And it’s like, even if it was freezing fucking cold, like my face got burned. Freeze burns and everything.

But you do it because it’s for the greater good, right?

Yeah, like, I cannot quit. Fuck I look like telling [the crew], “I can’t do this. I’m sorry, y’all. I’m sorry that y’all outside at 4 in the morning. This was a dumb idea for me. I know. It was my idea. But, yeah, I can’t do it. I’m dying.” No. It’s not gonna happen. I gotta do it. I like to show that I could do it.

So why was the shoot at Edge?

This is like, a new building everybody talks… I saw it on a JLo video. I was like, Oh, this spot looks dope. And I’ve been staying in L.A. for months ’cause I’m out there working.


You live in Atlanta, right?

I go to Atlanta. Like, I don’t stay for too long. If I go to Atlanta, it’s just to work and to handle home business. ’Cause I have a home. And, sometimes shit be happening and I gotta see it for myself, making sure that people are doing the work at the house. But all the work is in L.A. And it’s more convenient to be there. So, I’ve been doing a lot of photo shoots there. But, I just feel like everybody’s doing the same shit out there because there’s not a lot of locations. Like, everybody’s doing pictures on the desert. Everybody’s doing pictures around the palm trees. Everybody’s doing pictures with backgrounds and shit. I wanted to do something different. And I was like, I want to do like the business. And it’s like, no better place to look like a business than home, than New York.

One thing for sure that I’m doing a lot now this year is music and making sure my business is straight. Not just signing things and not just making sure that I get new deals and everything. That my money is getting handled great. That I got good lawyers that’s handling my shit. Because that’s one thing that is really hard. When it comes to these new celebrities, they start learning their business more, four or five years, shit, maybe eight years in.

After the losses. After the hardships.

After the losses. And after you see like, Damn, I could’ve been done this shit.

After the tax problem.

Yeah, after the tax.

To learn how to avoid it beforehand.

One thing I told my business manager, don’t even pay my business little by little. Take it all out. I don’t want to feel like I owe nothing.

It feels good to be debt-free, right?

It’s good to be debt-free, but either way, I feel like I’ve been on deals before that like, yeah, I got paid, but I feel like I deserved more. And I made sure this year that I get everything I deserve. Not just on music deals but on everything.

Did you not get what you deserved because you weren’t paying attention or because you’re a woman and women get less? It makes sense to rectify the situation, but where do you think it was coming from?

It comes from the people that’s handling your deals. It also comes because you gotta do more research on shit. For example, sometimes I feel like a company might see, you know, a girl like me, a colored girl like me. I’m a colored girl and I’m from the ’hood and shit. And they might be like, “Oh, we could offer her a $2 million advance.” And the company is gonna make out of you, probably fucking $50 million, $100 million. And you settle for $2 million because they think that you’re so thirsty for that money that they just gonna give you the $2 million.

I hate making everything about race because race do exist. Race is real. But I hate when sometimes people just want to make everything about race. It’s just like, sometimes you do see that race really matters and shit because I’ve been seeing some influencers, that are not, you know, like me. Caucasian influencers. And they’re getting paid big money. I’m a whole artist. And there is other artists that I know how much they’re getting paid. I’ve been doing my research now, heavy. And it’s like, Damn, muthafuckas is getting ripped the fuck off. And that’s why I’m like, Nah, I’m gonna get everything that I deserve.

What made you say, “I gotta get my business together?” What made you do that research? Did anything happen or did you just want to learn more?

I just feel like if you want to keep hiring me, I figured that you’re making a lot of money out of me. I just feel like that little 2 million, that little 3 million, I mean, sometimes even a little five million, ’cause I get 5 [million], $10 million deals. I just feel like, you gotta be making triple. The reason why my money keeps going bigger and bigger because they’re looking at the numbers that I used to bring other companies and they see, “Oh, she bring this amount of money. I’m gonna give her some more. But it’s like, what is the number? ’Cause I want to be part of that big number.

You don’t just want to be the expense that they’re paying for on the side. Partner me. Make me bigger. Invest in me on a much bigger scale.

Yes. Exactly. So, that’s one thing. Making sure that the people that are representing me are really good gamblers. Like, really step on necks. Ask for the highest bid. Like, that’s just how I am.

Was your money going up an adjustment for you because you’re talking about, “I make 5 million, I make 10 million.” How did that adjustment period go for you to even talk about these numbers and realize this is what I’m dealing with in life right now instead of being kinda struck by it and then being eager to take the 2 million?

Just knowing my worth. And then, my husband, he’s really fucking smart with numbers. I don’t pay him. I don’t pay him nothing. So, it’s just like, when he’s super direct and when he tells me the truth and when he be like, “You deserve this. You need this. You need that,” it’s just like, he’s not telling me this because he’s gonna benefit something from it. There’s nothing to benefit. He just want to see me win. So, it’s just like, “You’re right.” And I feel like I’m such a nice person, and he’s like…

Well, you need both sides, right?

And, you know, I’m not perfect. But, I’m getting better and better, and I’m being more alert.


Do you get tired of being called a female rapper and not just a rapper? Always being classified by your gender and getting separated into a category?

I mean, at the end of the day, I just keep feeling like I don’t care because I am a female. It’s just like, I don’t mind if you don’t put me in a category. Like, even let’s say a billionaire, right? Like, I’d rather be the first billionaire female than just, “Oh, she’s a billionaire.”

So, being called the female whatever over and over in a description doesn’t turn you off? You like that identification?

I do like the identification. Like, I don’t mind it. I’m really one of those people that I love being a woman. Like, even…alright, so I love war, right? I love war history.

Which wars are we talking about? Are you reading Civil War history? World War history? What are you doing?

Civil Wars. I like World Wars. And like, let me tell you something. So, this is so silly, but I always have this in my mind. So, the Russians, the Soviet Union, right, they had women soldiers. And the Germans were so confused when they used to see them, like, “What the fuck?” And then, like, they used to be so confused that, that distract them and next thing you know, you’re getting shot.

So, one of the things that it was so important on the Soviet fight with women, right, because when they were having their wait-outs, when they were hiding behind buildings, like, they were saying that men are so impatient and women were not, that they would wait and wait for hours, and men will start peaking. And then, that’s when the woman shoot you. So, I feel like it’s so amazing to be a woman. I don’t give a fuck if somebody call me a female rapper. A female entrepreneur. A female this. That’s what I am.

Like, I'm a whole female and I’m winning awards on niggas. And I’m making numbers on you niggas. I have a song on my album and I’d say, “Y’all niggas ain’t doing the numbers that my last shit did.” And I really could’ve said, “Y’all bitches ain’t doing the numbers that my last shit did.” But it was like, not even y’all muthafuckas is doing my numbers. So, it’s just like, I don’t give a fuck. Yes, I am a girl. With a pussy. With titties. And it’s just like, “Oh my God, she’s so pretty, but she’s so smart. She’s such a killa.” I just feel so powerful being a girl that I don’t give a damn if you call me a female rapper or a female…Yes, I am a girl.

You have publicly supported a bunch of newer female rappers by plugging them on social or putting them in your music videos. Do you feel like you have to cosign or endorse a new crop of female rappers?

No, I don’t. If I like you, I’m gonna endorse you. If I like your music, I’m gonna tell you that I like your music. I’m not in no catty shit, but it’s like at the end of the day, it is what it is. Like, this could get a little bit catty. So, it’s like, I don’t want to feel like I have a responsibility to look out for the girls and cuddle the girls and this and that. I feel like nobody did it for me, so it’s like, I don’t have to do it for you.

However, if you show me love, I’m going to show you love, and I’m gonna show you respect. Like, if you compliment me, I’ma compliment you. If you show love to my projects, I’m gonna show love to your projects. If sometimes, I see that you’re getting dragged on social media, like, I will want to give you an advice like, “Girl, just don’t say nothing. Don’t worry about it. Shit’s gonna pass. Yo, you know what? Do this so people could stop saying that about you.” I’m a person that likes to give advice, but I’m not gonna give advice to just anybody because they’re a female. Like, at the end of the day, I came from a female industry. I came from the strip club. And I’m from New York. The women are just crazy two-faced.

I don’t have to look out for you just because you’re a woman. I’m going to respect you. As long as you show me respect. And if you ever ask me for an advice, if you ever ask anything from me, I’m gonna give it to you. I’m gonna talk to you like a sister. When I met the City Girls, I didn’t know them at all. I told them like, “Y’all gotta keep working. Y’all gotta keep doing this. Y’all gotta keep doing that.” And that’s exactly what they did. And they big artists. They’re really popular. That’s just advice that I would tell any woman. However, I don’t feel like I gotta embrace everybody ’cause you might embrace a bitch, and then next thing you know, you find out the bitch don’t even fucking like you.

I don’t gotta have beef with somebody ’cause I’m not into beef. I hate beef. I’m not a petty person. I’m not a person that could go back and forth. I’m not none of that, ’cause I like to fight.

Meaning, you want to fight and get it over with. You don’t want to beef and have it go on and on.

Yes. We throw the hands and that’s it. I just hate how some people just be like, “Oh, I haven’t seen Cardi with this person. I haven’t seen this and that with this girl.” And it’s like, yo, I don’t even hang out with different people in real life, so what makes you think that because somebody else is a female rapper, I gotta hang out with them? Or I got a thing. Doesn’t mean that I don’t like them. I just don’t know them.

And, to your credit or your defense, you’re not everywhere around where you’re going to be meeting young talent and coming across them as you might have when you were newer. Plus, there's been COVID.

Exactly. And it’s just, I like when things happen naturally. You know, when Megan [Thee Stallion] came out, people for a whole year was like, “I never seen Cardi and Megan together. I know they don’t fucking like each other.” I feel like people kept putting me against her and everything. I was like, Damn. That sucks. Because I like her music. But I don’t know her. So, it’s just like what could people…


Just because we both rap, doesn’t mean we automatically know each other. We’re not all just hanging out together.

Yes. Exactly. And then, like, when I met her, you know, it was just dope, and it was a very natural, smooth [meeting]. We did a song, and it went so smoothly and it went so well. Even with this “WAP” performance [for the Grammys], it went so smoothly. It went so well. And sometimes I get on social media, and I do good, and she randomly congratulates me. And, I will congratulate her as well. I’m gonna always show her love. Like, it’s just a super respect thing. But we don’t be hanging out. ’Cause I don’t hang out. I’m like a home potato…couch potato, you know what I’m saying? I just want to be home, have sex and be with my kid. That’s what I want to do.

But you earned that, right? You earned the right to decide whatever I want to do, I’m going to do it. And I juggle my business.

Yeah. But I always been like that, though. I always been a person that…I don’t hang out with a lot of people. ’Cause I’m from the Bronx. Why is the Bronx like that? Because I feel like when you stay out of the way, in the Bronx, you’re not in nothing. You’re not in no problem. You’re not in no issues. You don’t see nothing. You don’t hear nothing.

But I love [Megan]. I love her. I like her a lot. Doja Cat was showing me love. And I’m always showing her love, too.

Shifting to your upcoming album. It’s been three years and you are getting ready to release your second album. You’ve had some time between projects. Have you liked that? Have you been frustrated by that? Do you think the album should’ve been out sooner, or is this the timeline that you wanted? You created?

I feel like at this point, it’s like a timeline that I created. Because last year, I was like, I gotta put out my album this year. But, then I just stopped working on my album out of nowhere because I feel like the whole COVID thing discouraged me to put out my album. Because I want to put out an album, and I want to tour.

That seems to be what happened with most big hip-hop artists during the COVID pandemic. They didn’t drop any albums or projects or try to take advantage of this weird year. It feels like most artists seem to be holding all of their music for when they can go out on tour.

Yes. We want to tour with the album. And I feel when I did Invasion of Privacy, I did a really big interview with [radio host] Ebro [Darden]. And to this day, I see people posting the interview.

I don’t feel like if I do like, an album promo run and everything, like, there’s no feelings to it, me doing interviews with people through a computer. I want to meet up with people. I want to have a conversation. It’s a better vibe. I love album release parties. I would love an album release party in New York. I could have one in Atlanta, but I want one also at home. And I want to see people. I shouldn’t fly out 50 of my friends just so they could be there in Atlanta and then somebody might catch COVID. No. So, it’s just something that I stopped, but then now that I keep putting out my singles, I keep saying like, “Damn. I have no choice but to put out my album this year.”

It’s hard if you keep putting singles out and don’t put the album out, because then it looks like you’re not confident in the singles you are dropping.

Yes. And like, this was one of the biggest things that I had to do, this cover. I got like, a week of making sure I handle all my business, making sure everything is good, go to meetings. And then, I’m going away for a very long time to finish my album.

So, what is the timeline for you this year if it was your way?

It’s difficult. Because it’s like, even after I finish the album, I gotta make sure I do two epic music videos. And, it takes me a while to do a music video. It takes like, a whole month ’cause I suck at dancing, so I’ve gotta learn choreography. “WAP” was very difficult, getting clothes because most of our clothes came from France. And they had like, a whole three-week holdup.

It’s a bit of a tired conversation but to touch on it a bit, were you surprised by the response to the “WAP” video? The complaints of it being oversexualized mixed with the woman empowerment conversation. Were you waiting for “WAP” to be controversial or were you not expecting it?

I was really surprised by it because I’m like, I don’t understand what’s the uproar about it. I grew up listening to Trina and Khia and fucking Lil’ Kim. Like, Lil’ Kim says some real nasty shit. Foxy [Brown] says some nasty shit.

But, so do male rappers.

Yeah, so do male rappers. So, I was just so confused. Like, why is this such a fucking uproar? Is it because I’m a really big Democratic advocate or something? So, now the Republicans are just trying to find anything?

Oh, interesting. A backlash from being vocal and supporting Bernie Sanders and the Democrats in general.

It’s just like, Hmm. Y’all know how I got famous, right? I got famous by talking nasty on fucking social media. So, I just didn’t understand the uproar. And like, weeks later and months later, I’m starting to see like, Damn, this was a real feminist record. I didn’t even know that it was going to be. It was such a cause of conversation. In the beginning, it was on Fox News, these fucking… They were eating it up.

And then, these last couple of weeks it was trending again because there were some books of Dr. Seuss that got pulled out ’cause they got racial content in it. People was just like, “Oh, ‘WAP’ could be the greatest song, ever and ‘WAP’ could play everywhere, but we’re gonna pull Dr. Seuss books out ’cause of what?” And I’m like, I don���t understand. Why is my song getting involved in something that has to do with racism? I cannot believe that this song is just such a conversation.

But you’ve created yourself to be a person who makes those conversations now. Right?

I guess. But, I really didn’t thought that it was gonna be such a conversation. Because, to me, I feel like the conversation was gonna be the music video—it’s so amazing. I didn’t thought that people was gonna be like, “Oh, this is such a nasty song.” Because it’s not the nastiest song I ever heard. This is nothing compared to like, “My neck, my back, lick my pussy and my crack.” It doesn’t even compare.

You brought up your political side. How important is it for that to be a visible part of who you are to the public?

I hate when people be trying to say that I stand up for people for clout. Because I have videos of me with fucked up teeth, in Harlem marching for police brutality. I have videos of me with braids and fucking pimples all over my face while stripping, talking about this shit. In 2016, I was telling people why is it so important not to vote for [Donald] Trump. Like, this is natural to me because it’s like, something that I love. It’s my passion. I love politics. I love government. I love, like I said, wars. I love history. I love to learn about different countries. Now, when it comes to math and business and shit like that…Like business, I can’t tell you like, “Oh, that’s something that I’ve been knew about.” I told you, I’m just learning.

Isn’t that the most important thing? Just to learn? To have an interest? To care enough to find out?

Yes. But like, when it comes to shit that happens socially, like, that’s in me. That’s what I love to do.

As a celebrity, one of powers you have on a larger scale is the ability to really take advantage of the position you are in, right? You have a voice. Do you have a responsibility?

I don’t feel like it’s like, a responsibility because I don’t have to do it. I just feel like it’s something that I love to do. I love to give advice. And I love to talk about what’s on my mind. I said that’s how I got famous, by saying what’s on my mind when it came to broke men and blah, blah, blah.

But when it comes to things that’s going on in the environment and government, I like to say what’s on my mind. And, sometimes I hate it because I’m not saying it to get attention. I always feel like if God gave you a voice, use it. And people who say that I’m doing it for attention, it’s like, attention my ass. I really like to get to the bottom of shit. I don’t need attention.

And you could get attention other quicker ways…

Right. ’Cause I could literally get on social media with a thong on, and I’m gonna get 5 million likes. Actually, I don’t get as much likes or as much views when I say things political or things about government. People don’t give a fuck. So, it’s like, when people say that, it’s like, what do I have to gain? I don’t gain nothing. When I met with Bernie [Sanders], when I met with Joe [Biden], I didn’t get paid. I had to fucking take my own money and fly to fucking Detroit [to meet with Sanders] the day after I had a show. I did that.

Were you at home watching the news and the debates a lot? Is CNN or MSNBC on in your house a lot?

Yeah. It plays in the house a lot. Right now, it’s not because I feel like I’m getting tricked. That’s the thing about the news, right? You get informed. But then a person like me, I start wondering, like, Is this a lie? Like, I don’t trust nobody. At the end of the day, I endorse people, but I’m still gonna think because I have always believed it’s the people against government. And that’s how it’s always going to be. And that’s how forever it’s gonna be.

The government isn’t for all the people. We’ve seen that with the minimum wage, how unfairly people get treated and with the criminal justice system.

Yes. We see it with everything. So, it’s just like, it's something that we have to live by ’cause at the end of the day, you do need ruling. There has to be…

Do’s and don’ts?

Yeah, do’s and don’ts. However, I’m gonna always feel like, for example, I know I’m very liberal, but I do believe in the Second Amendment a lot, like, the right to bear arms because you just never know when you have to go, which I highly doubt, but, due to history, you never know when you gotta go against…

Zombieland? Something you would never expect? An apocalypse? You never know what’s gonna hit anymore after COVID.

Yes. And then you know, like I said, COVID and everybody and all these freaking politicians having different views on everything, it just confused my mind so much that I stopped watching the news. And, I just be telling myself, “We just gotta let shit flow.”

Because there’s certain states that [are] completely open, but the COVID rates is going higher. And then, some states are fully open and the cases are still low. It’s just like, something is tricky about that. That means that they’re not reporting it. All of that drives me crazy.

Well, then it gets into a thing of how deep into conspiracy can you get?

Yes. How conspiracy can I get. And, I just sometimes need a break from it ’cause I’m a person that I will get stuck on thinking on something.

And trying to dig deeper into it. Trump being out of office helps us take a break from some of the news a bit.

Yeah. And people cannot front, it has gotten more peaceful. Like, the problems haven’t been solved… It was just getting so intense and so ridiculous. I honestly feel like he has started, not a physical [war], but a lot of race-baiting. And that’s just race war. And it’s like, against everybody: Whites, Black, Hispanics. People just debating and showing how they hate each other. I don’t know. I feel like I didn’t grow up like that. I didn’t grow up hating anybody. And all of these things are going on right now. It’s so weird. It makes me feel like, uncomfortable. So, I just feel like we have a little break from that ever since he’s not in office. It has been more peaceful. It has been.

You have mentioned social networking and your power there. It feels like you have a great relationship with your fans, but sometimes you can get frustrated with them. A huge part of building you up to this point was the way you handled social media. Has your relationship with your fans changed at all? Do you get tired of it now? Do you feel like it’s too judgmental?

Well, it’s very judgmental. When it comes to my fans, though, like, I know I be arguing with my fans a lot. But it’s nothing ever serious. I’m really close with my fans.

Are there two communities? It’s fans, and then there’s a more judgmental music community or a judgmental celebrity community that exists?

Yeah. And that’s why sometimes I get it twisted because I be feeling if you my die-hard fan, you should know me, so you should feel like you know what I don’t like or you know what will get me upset. But then I be forgetting, not everybody is like, super die-hard. Not everybody super knows me. And that’s ’cause I talk so much to my fans that I just be expecting all of them to be the same. But it’s not. To me, my fans is almost like a family. It’s like, I argue with my family and I will argue with people that I work with every single day. As long as we’re not saying no evil, cut, mean things. It’s like, OK, we got into an argument today. What’s up tomorrow?

Do you have fans you know by name? They’re head of fan clubs? You’re used to them and familiar?

I feel like I’m familiar with a lot of them. And, there’s some that I probably would talk to and I don’t even know how they look.

You just know their handle.

Yeah. I just know their handle. And, that’s just, I guess how it works or something. I feel like I know them, but I really don’t know them. That is so weird that you feel like you know somebody but you don’t even know how the fuck they look. It’s dope, though. I feel like they understand me. On social media, I’m one of those artists that people just don’t like too much or people are just too hard on. And that has pushed me away to stop expressing myself. That has pushed me away from going on live. That has pushed me away from doing so much things that I want. But, it will never push me away to quit because I feel like that is their goal. Their goal is to bully and pick on me and take away all the hard work that I have done and try to discredit my artistry. Try to discredit everything I do. They do that because they just want me to quit and to stop. I might not go on social media like I used to, or express myself how I want to, but you will never make me quit.

I’ll be damned if I fucking tell my daughter, “I stopped doing music because I just felt like everybody just kept bullying me. Like, no, Kulture, you don’t understand. Everything that I was putting out, people were saying that they hated it. Even though I was doing great numbers. I just didn’t understand why people hated me so much. I just felt like I had to quit.”

I’d feel like a fucking loser if I said that shit to my kid, so I don’t give a fuck what anybody would tell me. I will cry. I will be mad about it, but I will never fucking quit. It actually would make me mad. These are the people that know me. They know that I will be mad for one day, and then the next day be like, “Here’s the plan ’cause I’m about to fucking kill shit again and again and again.”

A lot of female rappers have had children, but you were the first one we watched become a mom while you were on your way to becoming a rap star. A lot of people questioned what it would do to your career. How did that feel to you at the time? Did you feel that you had a lot of people that were questioning your decision about having a child so early on in your career? And how have you felt you’ve navigated being a mom and a music star at the same time?

I’m not gonna lie, I was very, very, very scared. Everybody was very, very scared. And even like, the people on my label, they was like, “No, it’s gonna be OK.” I could tell that they were scared. Everybody was scared, you know what I’m saying? Like, even the people that do my makeup, my hair, the publicist, everybody was really scared. But, just like yesterday when I showed you I didn’t quit because it got cold…it’s just like, I’m not gonna quit because I’m uncomfortable and I’m pregnant.

I had a couple of songs like “Get Up 10,” “Ring” and “Money Bag” already made the year before. But like, around March [of 2018], not even March, like even before that, I locked myself in, in Atlanta and Miami, and I finished my album. And I was getting cold. I used to get really sleepy while I was pregnant. I would wake up, throw up, and then I would be like, Alright, I’m gonna brush my teeth and I’m gonna go in the booth. Because I was on a time limit. I knew that I couldn’t pass April ’cause my stomach was getting big, and I wouldn’t be able to do music videos.

But even after I completed that, the album came out and I was still pregnant. And I was like, Damn, I can’t perform in these shows. I don’t know if my career’s gonna be the same after I give birth. I was just like, Oh my gosh.

You were just scared.

I was scared. I kept telling people like, “Just take any deals. I don’t give a fuck. Take ’em. Take ’em. Take ’em. I’ll take ’em right now. I just need to make money.” And it worked out. I’m thankful and I’m grateful.

Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy just won a Grammy tonight. Would you want Kulture to win a Grammy one day? Would you want her to go into the entertainment business?

I want so much things for her that I don’t even know what I want. I just want her to be very smart and very business savvy. Like, that’s one thing that I want. I want her to be business savvy. Like, know this shit. Be very confident. One day she’s going to be reading the comments. And I just want her to know that, that doesn’t matter. I want her to feel like she’s just unstoppable. I want her to be humble.

But those sound, from the outside looking in, the way you could describe yourself.

I want her to be like me, but I don’t want her to have like, the bad things of me, you know what I’m saying? Like, I want nothing to bother her. I want her to be like, “Nothing that nobody says bothers me.” And one trait of me that I want her to have, I want her to be ambitious. A lot of people have so much things that I be like, Yo, why are they not further in their life? And, the reason is because they’re not ambitious. I want my daughter to be ambitious. I don’t want you to feel like you gotta get it from somebody else.

Or to settle for less.

Or to settle for less. I want her to be something. I want her to be a somebody.

Do you feel like you got that when you were raised? That was the energy that you got, or that’s something you had to create yourself?

That’s just how I’ve always been. I always been like, onto the money, onto the money, onto the money, onto the money. What do I have to do? And when I do something, I want to learn and be good at it. Like, everything. Even when I was a cashier, I wanted to be really fast at fucking checking people.

I want to be the fastest worker.

I want to be the fastest worker. And the strip club…not only am I a good stripper, but I want to learn how to do all the pole tricks. And, I want to learn the gift of gab to make guys give you more money. And then, with the musician, I want to learn how to be a great rapper. Like, I just don’t want to make shit rhyme. I want everything good. I want to learn everything. I want to learn every, every, everything. And within the business thing, like I said, I want to learn this shit.

Bringing it back directly to hip-hop and the next album, what can we expect sound-wise? It’s not Cardi 2.0 because there’s no new version of you, but you keep pushing. How’s that challenge for you, and what’s going on with you in hip-hop at this very moment?

I’m not even gonna lie, it’s a little bit challenging because it’s like, I’m young and I like trap. When I started rapping, if you listen to my mixtape, I like drill. My thing was always like, drill. I like drill Chicago music a lot. So that was my thing. I’m more of a trap, I’m more of a new era-type of rapper. But for some reason, I don’t understand how there are so many male rappers that could do new era rapping, the trapping, and when it comes to female rappers, it’s like, Where’s your bars? Where’s your this? And, they constantly have to compare me to other rappers. And it’s like, why can’t I just be this type of artist? Like, I want to be this type of artist. Like, why can’t I be it? Like, stop.

That’s one thing that it’s like, yo, they do not be comparing these young men. They don’t compare them to other rappers like Jay-Z or Kanye West and everything. But female rappers, it’s like, people gotta always compare me to the last one. And I hate that.

Do you feel like the goal is for everyone to pit the women against each other?

Not only is just pitting, but it’s just like, I hate that because… I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t want to go with another bitch formula. I want to go with my formula. So, it’s like why do y’all want me to rap like this girl or have like, bars like this girl or have these flows. A hundred flows like this girl? I’m going with my flow. My flow makes me money. My flow is what I like to hear. My flow, it’s just me.

And it’s like, I hate when they do that because I do not like… I hate bringing in the strip club, but I have to bring in the strip club. If I go in the club, and I fucking see that another bitch is making money and shit, she got money on the floor, then that is distracting me. Like, Oh, damn, why that bitch making money today? What the fuck?

So, you’re incredibly competitive.

It’s not that I’m competitive, I just don’t like to be on pace with somebody else. I like running on my own time. I like doing things on my own time and my way. So, I really hate when people pit me against each other, because it just makes me feel like I gotta move like them. And I don’t like moving like nobody else. Even last year, everybody was putting music out, all the females. Nicki Minaj. Doja Cat. Megan Thee Stallion. And people was just saying, “Oh, Cardi is over. Cardi’s over.”

You’re right. That’s 100 percent right.

Yeah. Everybody was like, “Cardi’s over. Ah, we told you. She’s not no real artist. She’s this and that. Oh, yeah, we got women back.” Everything that I accomplished, people was trying to erase it just because new females were out. And that shit made me feel like, Damn, I gotta rush, rush, rush, rush, so I could be in the lineup with these girls. And you know what? I said, “No.” And I kept recording. I kept writing down ideas of how my next single rollout was gonna come out ’cause I ain’t put out music in six, seven months. And when I do things in my time, in my pace because I’m not watching other bitches, I do great.

Like “WAP.” I do great. I had that song for months. Could’ve been put it out. And no, I’m not gonna put out a song because other bitches is doing good or they’re doing great. That’s them. What they eat don’t make me shit. And then, it’s just like, it was a really weird moment for me because I hate working because of other people pace. Because other people is doing something. Alright, they doing good, then that’s good for them. But just ’cause they doing good doesn’t mean that I’m gonna be out here rushing my life. Or like, rushing to be in line with them. When it’s my moment, it’s my moment.

Well, that takes the control away from you, right? It’s not on your time. It’s not on your schedule. It’s on someone else’s. And now you're cramped. You’re rushing. Maybe not making the right decisions, if you’re forced that way.

And I hate that shit. And a lot of people do that shit on social media. That’s so fucking annoying. And I hate when I accomplish, people get upset because it’s like, “Oh, well, you accomplished something and this person didn’t.” And it’s like, bro, when somebody else accomplish something, I don’t give a fuck. Like I said, what they eat don’t make me shit. It doesn’t take away from my success. And it doesn’t take away from their success, neither. So, stop doing that. Because that shit throws off the artist’s mind.

There’s too much women right now. Everybody’s records are gonna be broken. There’s gonna be new records. New history. New moments that are gonna be made. It’s not gonna be by me. It’s gonna be by so many different women. One day, this bitch is getting praise, the other bitch is getting praise. I’m getting praise.

But you did just get the first diamond plaque for a female rapper’s single for “Bodak Yellow"? So, you got that one under your belt. That’s quite an accomplishment.

Yes. And it was amazing, but yet some other people were upset at that. “Oh, just ’cause Cardi got a diamond single doesn’t mean she’s the greatest rapper, ever.” I never said that made me the greatest rapper.

That was like the hate on winning the Best Rap Album at the 2019 Grammys, right?

Yes. And it’s like, that doesn’t make me or I’m not saying that this makes me the best female rapper, ever. However, this is my moment. Let me enjoy it. Because when another bitch get this moment, I’m not gonna be mad at it. It’s her moment. Let me have my moment, bro.

And what did I do to you that you won’t let me have it?

Yes. Any of my success that I do, whether I go No. 1, whether I get a diamond record, whether I get a Grammy, it doesn’t diminish nobody else’s success… Today, there’s so many female rappers nominated in these Grammys, somebody might win three, two Grammys today.

Yeah, Megan won a few tonight. That doesn’t take away from what you’ve achieved.

That doesn’t take from me. That doesn’t take away from nothing that I’ve fucking broken. So, why is it that every time I win it’s like, it’s something bad? Like, that takes away from somebody else’s shit? It’s annoying and I hate that. It’s like, people want to make me feel guilty for winning.

If you were going to be the most braggadocios person you could be right now and flex about everything you’ve accomplished. What would you say about yourself?

Bitch be selling. I sell. And I make good music. Just that.

See Cardi B's Photo Shoot in XXL Magazine's Spring 2021 Issue

Filed Under: Cardi B, Feature, XXL MagazineCategories: News, XXL Magazine

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: March 29, 2021BRS Kash via YouTube

Rappers have often pushed the envelope when it comes to sexually explicit lyrics in their songs. Along with that, the accompanying music videos for those songs are oftentimes downright raunchy and outrageous.

Atlanta rapper BRS Kash's visual for his "Throat Baby (Remix)" featuring DaBaby and City Girls includes plenty of sexual themes related to fellatio. In the video, which dropped in January of this year and has over 28 million views, some of the imagery, including DaBaby skiing on bodily fluids, has certainly raised a few eyebrows for those people unfamiliar with the Atlanta rapper’s oral sex anthem.

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion are no stranger to provocative visuals whether it's on social media or in their videos. Last year, the two rappers didn't let a pandemic slow their roll when they debuted "WAP," the first official single for Cardi's upcoming sophomore album. The Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 song arrived in August of 2020 with a hotter-than-hot video, including stone statues made in the likeness of both Cardi and Megan with water dripping out of their respective bosoms in front of a mansion. From gold butts and breasts adorning the hallway of the crib to tigers fornicating, this is a video not for the prude types.

Arguably, the most raunchy video in hip-hop history is Nelly's 2003 visual for his remix to "E.I.," which is widely known as "Tip Drill." In the NSFW clip, Nelly and his crew, St. Lunatics, host a house party at a lavish mansion filled with bikini-clad strippers. Of course, the video is infamously remembered for Nelly swiping a fake credit card in-between a woman's buttocks.

Candid sexual anthems and raunchy music videos have been part of the rap game since its inception. So XXL highlights some of the wildly sexy visuals over the years. We must warn you that these music videos are NSFW and are sexually explicit. Check out the Raunchiest Hip-Hop Videos You Don't Want Your Parents to See below.

  • “Throat Baby (Remix)”BRS Kash Featuring DaBaby and City Girls
  • “WAP”Cardi B Featuring Megan Thee Stallion
  • “Tip Drill” (Explicit Version)Nelly
  • “Juicy”Doja Cat Featuring Tyga
  • “Want It All”Young Dolph
  • “My Neck, My Back”Khia
  • “Jingalin'”Ludacris
  • “Work”T-Pain
  • “Anaconda”Nicki Minaj
  • “Disco Inferno”50 Cent
  • “Blackjack”CupcakKe
  • “Pop It, Shake It”YG Featuring Mustard
  • “Dance (A$$)”Big Sean Featuring Nicki Minaj
  • “Oochie Wally”Nas Featuring Bravehearts
  • “Wooble, Wooble”504 Boyz
  • “Twerk”City Girls Featuring Cardi B
  • “Hustla”Kash Doll
  • “Pop That Pussy”2 Live Crew
  • “Make It Nasty”Tyga
  • “Lapdance”N.E.R.D

See The Dirtiest Song Openers in Hip-Hop History

Filed Under: 2 Live Crew, 50 Cent, 504 Boyz, big sean, BRS Kash, Cardi B, City Girls, Cupcakke, Doja Cat, Feature, Kash Doll, Khia, Ludacris, Master P, Megan Thee Stallion, N.E.R.D, N.E.R.D., nas, Nelly, Nicki Minaj, T-Pain, The List, tyga, YG, Young DolphCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Aleia Woods”>Aleia WoodsPublished: March 19, 2021Bhad Bhabie via YouTube

After Bhad Bhabie revealed earlier this month that she allegedly experienced abuse at Turn-About Ranch, the center for troubled teens in Utah that she was sent to by Dr. Phil after appearing on his talk show in 2016, she's now coming forward in a new tell-all video detailing the incident further.

In a video shared on Bhad Bhabie's official YouTube page this afternoon (March 19), the rapper shared details of her time at the Utah-based center, revealing that she endured hard labor, was physically and emotionally abused, felt like she was kidnapped, was not allowed to sleep on a bed at some points, suffered from malnourishing and much more. She also doubled-down on her defense of a young woman named Hannah Archuleta, who came forward in February of this year about being sexually assaulted at the ranch in 2019, and was punished for speaking out.

The "Do It Like Me" rhymer has given Dr. Phil an ultimatum, in which he has to apologize to Bhad Bhabie, Hannah and any other child sent to Turn-About—or a similar program—or else she will "handle things" her way.

Bhad Bhabie said that after she appeared on the Dr. Phil show, her mother and grandmother knew she was being sent to the program, but Bhad Bhabie did not.

The rapper said the teens are given transporters—one man and one woman—who wakes them up in the middle of the night, doesn't inform the teens of where they're going, handcuffs the teens and brings them to a cabin, which is where the program takes place.

"So for the first three days you're there, it's no showering," Bhad Bhabie divulges in the eight-minute tell-all video. "They put you in a circle, which is a teepee. It's a little teepee, but it's opened. And you have to sit there for three days."

As far as the responsibilities and tasks the teens are given, Bhad Bhabie says they're the same every day, like chopping wood and taking care of the animals. She adds that while the phone and television are privileges that you're stripped of, necessity privileges are taken away as well.

"They take away necessity privileges, like sleeping on a bed, eating good food, not being cold," she says.

Bhad Bhabie also admits that she was reprimanded for witnessing incidents although she may not have informed any of the staff about it. She went on to say that even though there were rules at the program, that could've changed at any moment based on how a staff member was feeling that day or if the employee felt one of the teens did something they weren’t supposed to be doing.

The rhymer also described two types of disciplines at the program: a "check" and a "reflection." She explained a reflection as a "punishment when you do something so bad or you do anything that ticks them [the staff] off, you have to go in reflection. You walk in the arena for hours on end. You sit outside in the cold on the floor. You have to pick up piles in a wheelbarrow of horse shit. And they [the staff] want big piles. So, if you have to do 25 piles, you're really doing like 50 wheelbarrows."

Bhad Bhabie detailed more incidents in the video that she witnessed, like a kid getting held down at the program, which is allegedly illegal because she says the staff members aren't supposed to put their hands on the kids. She added that it is the teens' words against the staff because there aren’t any witnesses, cameras or phones, which is why the rapper was afraid to speak out in fear of no one believing her.

The artist claims that at one point, she begged her mother to let her leave the program and offered to go to therapy every day or an outpatient program. She also revealed that one of the staff members was killed at the ranch by a teen who attempted to steal a car, presumably located on the property. A female staff member, who was injured during this incident, later died as well. Also, the mother of the teen who killed the staff member was married to the brother of the president of the program, which Bhad Bhabie believes is a conflict of interest.

"What parents need to understand is, if your child is acting out ’cause of trauma like sexual abuse, or maybe the kids' parents got divorced or just anything like that, you don't send your kid to a program like this," Bhad Bhabie continued. "You need to send your kid to a program where they're not being punished and everything's not about, 'You're in trouble, you're in trouble.' And it's just really fucked up. You're using children to keep your ranch going and you’re not even feeding them or letting them sleep in decent conditions."

Bhad Bhabie added, "Just doing things that no one would ever want done to their child. And doing it to kids who are so helpless when you know that you're watching their letters, you know that they don't have any contact with their parents. So, I'm not really sure why Dr. Phil still sends kids here ’cause it really doesn't make sense. Are you trying to help them or are you trying to hurt them even more? ’Cause we all know he's a phony as it is, but don't be sending kids somewhere just to make it look like you're tryna do something."

The 15 mixtape artist also claimed that Turn-About Ranch has been facing lawsuits since about 2012, and has been around since the 1990s.

XXL has reached out to a rep for the Dr. Phil show and the Turn-About Ranch for a comment.

Watch Bhad Bhabie's full tell-all video below.

See Hip-Hop Albums Turning Five in 2021

Filed Under: Bhad BhabieCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: March 8, 2021Carmen Mandato / Rich Fury / Ari Perilstein, Getty Images (3)

Hip-hop has a long history of rappers delivering raunchy lyrics on their songs. In some cases, the dirtiest songs in hip-hop feature sexually explicit lyrics in the very first bars. These song openers are NSFW, so be warned.

Taking it back to the late 1990s, Lil' Kim's 1996 track "Big Momma Thang" finds the Brooklyn MC delivering a memorable but sexually explicit opening line. "I used to be scared of the dick/Now I throw lips to the shit/Handle it like a real bitch," she boasts.

Not to be outdone, Khia's 2002 song "My Neck, My Back (Lick It)" is probably the most quotable and dirtiest opening line in hip-hop. "All you ladies pop yo' pussy like this/Shake your body, don't stop, don't miss," instructs the Miami rapper on the raunchy song.

Men have pushed the envelope with their sexualized lyrics as well. On BRS Kash's remix to his latest hit "Throat Baby," DaBaby sets it off with an X-rated opening line. "Damn near got the best head in the world on her, I be ready to hit/Put her lips on my dick and she swirl on it, she be ready to spit," the XXL magazine winter 2020 cover star raps on the track.

Megan Thee Stallion, one of DaBaby's frequent collaborators, is also among several women in hip-hop who are comfortable and unapologetic when it comes to rapping about sex. The 2019 XXL Freshman's 2018 banger "Big Ole Freak" features her spitting a provocative opening verse. "Aye, big ole freak, huh/Big booty, big ole treat (Ah)/I'ma make him wait for the pussy/Hit it 'til he big ole skeet, aye (Baow, baow, baow)," Megan raps.

So with that, XXL highlights the dirtiest song openers in hip-hop history. Fair warning: the lyrics below are sexually explicit.

See The Dirtiest Song Openers in Hip-Hop History

Filed Under: 2 Live Crew, Akinyele, BRS Kash, Cam’ron, Cardi B, Cupcakke, DaBaby, Danny Brown, David Banner, Eazy-E, Erica Banks, Feature, Galleries, Gallery, ghostface killah, Khia, Lil Kim, Megan Thee Stallion, Missy Elliott, nate dogg, Notorious B.I.G., Plies, The Notorious B.I.G., Three 6 Mafia, TrinaCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Aleia Woods”>Aleia WoodsPublished: March 8, 2021Prince Williams, WireImage

Ralo has been behind bars for nearly three years in connection to his 2018 drug case. The Atlanta native came close to receiving bond last year, but it was revoked by a judge due to Ralo allegedly making drug deals from prison using an Apple Watch. And now, the Conspiracy rapper claims he's still in jail because someone he knows apparently snitched on him.

On March 5, Ralo or a member of his team, added some momentum to the "Free Ralo" movement via his Instagram page while sharing some alleged details about why the 26-year-old rhymer hasn't been released yet. A rep for the Clayton County Detention Center in Ashland, Ala. confirmed to XXL this morning (March 8) that Ralo is still in custody at their jail facility.


Ralo seems to be referring to at least one rapper, Doonki Wild. When Ralo was taken into custody at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in 2018, after arriving via a private plane with 444 pounds of marijuana on it, amounting to $1 million, eight others were arrested as well: Terrell Davis (a.k.a. Ralo), William Rhodes, Brenton Mitchell, Antoine Morrison, Quintavis Scott, Bilal Muhammad, Michael Hunnicutt, Christian Harp and Shanquita Potts.

On March 6, a post featured on Doonki Wild's Instagram account denied accusations of throwing Ralo under the bus.

"Happy Birthday to a real one! #Me Never Told Never Fold RALO We need one on one ASAP #FreeDoonkiWild #carenunboutit," the Instagram post reads.

Based on court documents obtained by XXL, the affidavit notes that there is probable cause to believe that the nine arrestees did "knowingly and intentionally combine, conspire federate, agree and have a tactic understanding with each other and other persons, to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance."

Ralo was originally arrested by the DeKalb County Police Department on April 15, 2018, and was released on April 19, 2018. The conspiracy charge filed by the DeKalb County PD at the time was later dropped because the case became a federal matter.

Days after Ralo's arrest, an apartment complex he owned in the ATL was raided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Department of Homeland Security and FBI agents. The raid was in connection to his initial arrest. This presumably prompted prosecutors to motion for Ralo's detainment, noting on an order of detention pending trial that he committed offenses while on probation.

In July of 2020, Ralo was granted a $250,000 bond following his arrest on four federal counts of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and possession with intent to distribute over 100 kilograms of marijuana. At the time, documents said that the 1017 Records artist would be placed on supervised released with numerous previsions such as residing at a "designated rental property." The conditions of the release also said that Ralo was "restricted to twenty-four-hour-a-day lockdown at the residence except for medical necessities, court appearances, or other activities specially approved by the Court."

He was additionally ordered to "submit location monitoring" and was prohibited from communicating with any third parties, whether it was via cell phone, email or video chat. However, last December, a judge revoked the Georgia rhymer's bond, deeming him a "danger to the community" after concluding that he had been arranging drug deals while in jail using an Apple Watch.

Ralo received a five-year plea deal on his birthday back in 2019, but turned it down.

XXL has reached out to a rep for Ralo and his attorney for a comment on this matter.

See 22 Hip-Hop-Related Police Raids

Filed Under: RaloCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Robby Seabrook III”>Robby Seabrook IIIPublished: March 3, 2021Sam Leviton

You never know until you try. Before rap, Louisville, Ky. native EST Gee was hustling in his city, but considered that there may be a place for him within hip-hop around his way. According to him, he got the streets blessing. After Gee was arrested for a drug trafficking charge in 2016, which had him locked up and then eventually put on house arrest, Gee saw Lil Baby rhyming on TV and thought of him as a kindred spirit. By 2018, the aspiring rhymer was making songs in a bathroom recording studio. Since he was off house arrest by May of that year, Gee was able to make more moves toward his fledgling career. At the time, he was already making noise for himself with songs like "New Number" and creating his own buzz in his hometown.

Along the way, he also found a friend in 2020 XXL Freshman Jack Harlow. Both artists are from the same city but make drastically different types of music. EST Gee is a street rapper through and through, unique in his own right with a distinctive voice. His flow and lyrics include solid wisdom, unabashed truth and extremely vivid tales that pull it all together. Gee's sound can be heard on Harlow's 2020 debut album, Thats What They All Say, on the song "Route 66," which the two performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in January of this year. The experience is one of Gee's standout moments to date.

While good moments like that have happened on Gee's rise to the top, unfortunately, he's experienced tragedy and tribulation prior. In September of 2019, he was shot five times in a vehicle in Louisville after finishing a video shoot with Sada Baby. One of those bullets hit him in the eye and the other four went into his stomach. He survived and recovered, but then dealt with the deaths of both his brother and mother in 2020.

While Gee is still mourning their passings, his profile is rising. His videos on YouTube are consistently getting views, especially the visual for the remix of "Get Money" featuring Yo Gotti, which sits at nearly 3 million views and shows off what the streets of Louisville are like. And despite the pandemic taking over last year, he dropped the mixtape Ion Feel Nun, in March of 2020, which features an image of himself with his eye bandaged on the cover, and then followed up with I Still Dont Feel Nun project in mid-December. Before those two efforts, he released the projects El Toro and Die Bloody in 2019.

Now, EST Gee is signed to Yo Gotti's CMG imprint and Interscope Records. Gotti welcomed the rap newcomer to his team by giving him $750,000 in late January, the moment captured on Instagram. Plus, he gained a supporter in Lil Baby, the same rapper Gee saw making a lane for him when he first began rapping. Baby and Gee have a collab on the way. It's all coming together for EST Gee, this week's featured artist in XXL's The Break.

Age: 26

Hometown: Louisville, Ky.

I grew up listening to: "Boosie [BadAzz], [Yo] Gotti, Gucci [Mane]Future. I feel like everybody listened to them. I might be wrong though. They were just talking about gangsta shit. My daddy used to listen to gangster shit. It just was what was most relatable to me, what was going on around me. It was easy to listen to because I understood it."

My style’s been compared to: "Everybody say I make them feel like how the OGs did, and [Yo] Gotti and… how that shit used to feel like back then. They say I make them feel like that. They don't think I sound like them neither, but as far as like just coming in with they own money, a group of niggas with they own money. There's only a couple of rappers that can say they came like us or they coming like us. You hear about this type of shit, but you don't get to see it. And especially not from no Louisville, Kentucky."

I’m going to blow up because: "Me talking to you. I ain't locked up. I ain't dead. I got shot five times. I got shot in my eye and my stomach four times. I could be dead, you feel me? I'm in Miami right now, looking at the skyline. Miami, on the beach. I'm far away from where I come from. I'm doing all right."

What’s your most slept-on song, and why?: "I don't feel like I got no song that people slept on. That's why I get the same type of reaction to every song. I feel like, as far as views and shit on videos, that only goes as far as you promote something, like putting it on the vlog site or shit like that. I don't really even pay attention to views a lot. It just be like more cultural impact. I know if I do a show, they want to hear this song. That means more to me than how many views shit got. People walking up to me and reciting shit from a song or reciting certain shit from a song. Sometimes they do it to the songs that don't got the most views."

My standout records to date have been: "'Get Money.' Everybody is on that. Lil Baby, [42] Dugg, [Yo] Gotti. Like the trap, everywhere. Everywhere there was street niggas was fucking with that song, "Get Money." It was like an anthem. It felt good because it felt like people knew we for real. If you're a OG or you're a person who's been out here. You can't look at us or look at me and not see shit you've been through yourself. That was my fastest video I got to a million. I think that bitch went to a million in like a month."

My standout moments to date have been: "Being on Jimmy Kimmel [Live!]. That's probably… I didn't even understand how big it was at first, but I'm sending a shout-out to my boy, Jack Harlow. My Jack, man. Jack was a fan of me out of nowhere, like we didn't know each other or nothing and he's been supporting me. Fucking with me ever since. How he act then is how he act now. He never, never, never changed. And he used to confuse me. I would just be like, 'Damn, why does he like this shit?'"

Most people don’t know: "I'm a Taurus. I don't know. I'm into astrology. I like astrology. My grannies and them, is into shit like that. My granny, my nana, she's real spiritual. She's into shit like that."

I’m going to be the next:
"I don't really want to be the next nothing, I just want to be Gee. Whatever that is. Superstar. I just want to be me."

Follow EST Gee on SoundCloud and Instagram.


"Get Money"

"Ball Forever"

"Members Only" featuring 42 Dugg

"Special (Remix)" featuring Moneybagg Yo

I Still Don't Feel Nun

See Every Hip-Hop Song Certified Diamond in Music History

Filed Under: EST Gee, Feature, The BreakCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Aleia Woods”>Aleia WoodsPublished: February 19, 2021Pierre Suu, Getty Images

Kanye West allegedly isn't in the best mental shape amid rumors that he and Kim Kardashian have reportedly divorced.

According to People magazine on Wednesday (Feb. 17), a source close to ’Ye says that the rapper is going through it as he has reportedly come to terms with the state of his and Kim's marriage.

"Kanye is not doing well," the source told the outlet. "He is anxious and very sad. He knows that the marriage is over, and there's nothing that can be done right now. He also knows what he is losing in Kim."

However, despite rumors of Kanye not taking the separation well, the G.O.O.D. Music founder and Kim Kardashian are allegedly amicable.

On another note, according to a report from the Associated Press on Friday (Feb. 19), sources close to the couple claim that Kim officially filed for a divorce in Los Angeles County Court following more than six years of marriage.

Last month, reports began circulating online that Kim and Kanye had legally separated. Kim also reportedly hired divorce attorney Laura Wasser.

Weeks later, KimYe, who had allegedly been attending marriage counseling, gave up on trying to salvage their marriage. A report also included news that Kanye was going to be speaking with a divorce lawyer.

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian wed back in May of 2014. Since their union, they welcomed four children: North, Saint, Chicago and Psalm.

XXL has reached out to a rep for Kanye West and Kim Kardashian for a comment on this matter.

See Hip-Hop Albums Turning Five in 2021

Filed Under: Kanye West, kim kardashianCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Trent Fitzgerald”>Trent FitzgeraldPublished: February 15, 2021Rich Fury, Getty Images

Travis Scott is mostly known for his rapping and producing abilities within hip-hop, but he has now transcended into a marketing genius.

In 2020, when most musicians found themselves unable to tour or drop music due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trav was able to switch gears and build lucrative partnerships with brands like McDonald's, Nike, Sony and more. According to Forbes, his brand collaborations across fashion, food and entertainment netted him $100 million last year.

By cobranding himself and endorsing various products, Travis gained the trust of the people while helping companies tap into youth culture. Since the Houston rhymer has proven himself to be a successful businessman who has secured the bag multiple times, there's much to be learned from his business moves.

For example, Trav likes to tease a product first without advance warning. The 28-year-old rapper did that with his "Franchise" music video last year. In the visual, Travis held a can of his new hard seltzer beverage Cacti without and threw his new brand into his lyrics for the song too. Since then, there's been huge anticipation for the drink, which hits stores in March of 2021.

Travis also likes to put a creative spin on nostalgic brands. For McDonald's, the Astroworld creator revisited his childhood love of burgers and fries. McDonald's rarely does merchandise deals, but that changed when La Flame was on board. Together, they created three different merch drops with over 90 items, including T-shirts, crewnecks, hats, a chicken nugget body pillow, rugs and more. Altogether, the merch sold out within minutes of each release, proving that Travis knows what the youth likes.

So while looking at his partnership deals, his lyrics and other aspects of his money-making moves, XXL highlights the ways not to fumble the bag according to Travis Scott's business moves. You can apply them to your own life to make a deal and, more importantly, secure the bag. Check them out below.

See the Ways Not to Fumble the Bag According to Travis Scott

Filed Under: Galleries, Gallery, The List, Travis $cottCategories: News

href=”//” rel=”author” title=”Aleia Woods”>Aleia WoodsPublished: January 20, 2021D. Clemons

Let the Beat Build
Kash Johns, Founder and CEO of Winners Circle Worldwide Publishing & Management.
Words: Aleia Woods
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Kash Johns hit the music scene fervently in the 2000s, getting production placements with Harlem’s own Dipset. His experience with the New York City-bred collective helped to develop his keen interest in the music business. Johns later dove headfirst into publishing and began developing the next generation of producers, artists and songwriters. In 2015, Winners Circle Publishing, administered by global publisher Warner/Chappell, was born and has since served as a vehicle for individuals who have a hunger for and desire to thrive in the behind-the-scenes roles of creating music. The roster currently boasts Sterl Gotti, YNF Cappo, Pooh Beatz, Smash David and songwriter London Jae as their clients/signees plus more. Here, Johns shares some knowledge.

XXL: What are some of the particular qualities that you look for in a producer?

Kash Johns: Work ethic. Your willingness to go the extra mile. Doing more than whoever’s in the room. With us, in-house, we call it sharpening swords. It’s like sharpening swords, sharpening your skills. So, if you’re not pushing your skill set to the maximum, then you’re not gonna get the results that you really want. And, coming from a publishing background, I educate all my clients to understand the business portion of the publishing so that they can see if you’re a producer, if these [are] the types of records, and these are what these records do and this is what it’s going to pay you out. So, you gotta look long-term.

In your expert opinion, what would you say makes a hot producer right now?

It’s one that’s able to make any type of music… So, anybody coming up, it’s important to be able to get into those rooms, be able to know how to engineer, know how to arrange records, know what’s melodic, know to gain the trust of the artist.

What are some of the biggest songs that some of your producers have right now?

We did the “What’s Poppin” with Jack Harlow. We did DaBaby’s “Suge.” We did “The Voice” that came out with [Lil] Durk—last one that just came out. We’re on the Megan Thee Stallion [Good News Deluxe] project. We did the Dave East single [“Sexual”] featuring Chris Brown. We was on the NBA YoungBoy [“Boom”]. We had the Tory Lanez one [“Friends Become Strangers”]. Oh, and we did “My Window” with Lil Wayne.

How do you measure success for your producers? The platinum plaques, the gold plaques, that type of recognition people definitely care about.

I ask them… Each one of my producers, we call it, “How do you want your movie to be seen?” So, they tell me how they wanna see their movie at the end and then that’s how we measure their success from that point.

Check out more from XXL’s Winter 2020 issue including our DaBaby cover story, an introduction to DaBaby's Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment label roster, an interview with South Coast Music Group founder Arnold Taylor, who discovered and signed DaBaby, one of King Von's last interviews, how the coronavirus changed hip-hop, we catch up with Flipp Dinero in What's Happenin', we talk to Rico Nasty about rediscovering who she is as an artist, Marshmello talks about the rappers he wants to work with in Hip-Hop Junkie, Show & Proves with The Kid Laroi and Flo Milli, we take a closer look at how music gets leaked and more.

See Photos of XXL Magazine's Winter 2020 Cover Shoot With DaBaby

Filed Under: Chris Brown, DaBaby, Dipset, Feature, Jack Harlow, Kash Johns, Lil Durk, promo, The Diplomats, XXL MagazineCategories: News, XXL Magazine