Gov’t Name: Daniel Simmons
Reppin’: New York
Notable Releases: Single: “Great Expectations,” 2010; Guest Appearance: Lupe Fiasco’s “I’m Beamin’ (Remix),” 2010; Mixtapes: The First Flight, 2009, Airborne, 2010
Currently Working On: Recording material for his untitled mixtape, due spring 2011, and his solo debut album
Label: Atlantic Records
Aligned With: Rev. Run and Russell Simmons
Side Hustle: His sneaker line, Chivalrous Culture, comes out fall 2011
On Being a 2011 XXL Freshman: “Being here means a lot. It’s always been something I thought was real cool, as a new artist to be on, and it was something that I wanted to be on this year. When I heard [I made it], I was like, 'What?' You know, that’s something I was freaking out over, because I was putting in all this hard work, and to see it, you know, actually see the things come to past my ways, it’s just crazy. There are certain goals that people wanna reach, and being a new artist, I’m sure—well, hip-hop artist—I’m sure being on the Freshmen [cover] is one of them. And that was something that I definitely wanted to do. I mean, being here is crazy.
When I got that call [from XXL] I flipped, I screamed. I don’t get that hype about nothing, but I was bouncing off the walls. That obviously means that this is a big thing for me. It’s like a dream come true. My dad, [Joseph ‘Reverend Run’ Simmons] was excited for me [too]. That’s something that is important for any artist. Being on the XXL Freshmen list is that mark, it’s that stamp. It’s very meaningful to me, so the fact that I got it, and now to see it set in stone, is crazy.
I wasn’t so anxious [at the shoot], I was excited to do it. It was kind of what I expected it to be [too], nobody was really Hollywood or anything like that. Everybody was showing love. I got to see some dudes that I already knew [of], like I had already known Kendrick and Mac Miller, but I never got to meet them. So, it was cool meeting them. Me and Twist have known each other for almost five years now, so it’s always good seeing Twist; and meeting Yela. Everybody who I met: CyHi, K.R.I.T. It was real cool.
I think [this year’s Freshmen are] definitely the most diverse class. It’s usually the people that you see get on the same blogs and what not, but then you see YG or Twist or somebody like that, that don’t necessarily get posted, but they still grind. I think that’s a great part about it, you guys didn’t single anybody out for a certain reason. If you’re grinding and you have a buzz and you’re trying to make it, that’s how y’all did it.
In late ’09 I really started writing acapellas and freestyles over instrumentals, but I wasn’t putting it out yet. No one knew I rapped. It was something I was doing by myself in my room. Just penning stuff. Then a while after that I finally put out my first mixtape, The First Flight. Then after that I just kept going and going and momentum started growing and I’m seeing it happen, ’cause I’m just throwing out music. It’s not even my dad involved or my label. Nothing really, it’s just an independent thing that I’m doing and then you know as I keep going, labels started calling me. It was crazy.
It’s crazy ’cause it was a lot of people co-signing me. Nas to Kanye, and just a lot of people that just really enjoyed [my freestyles] in particular. When they see something like that, or they see anything they always wanna look back into everything else [that I had going on]. So you know it was crazy and from there I was just— kept moving forward.
I’ve still got people that don’t even know that I rap and XXL is a big outlet; a real big magazine so more it’ll just show people, and they’ll be like, ‘Yo that’s Diggy he looks older.’ Or, ‘I didn’t know he rapped.’ So for those people and also for my fans and my supporters I hope they go out and get [the issue] and enjoy it."
FOR MORE ON THE 2011 FRESHMEN COPE THE APRIL ISSUE OF XXL ON SALE MARCH 15.