Watch Playboi Carti’s 2017 XXL Freshman Freestyle and Interview
Atlanta rapper Playboi Carti, in all his laid-back, hair-flipping glory, creates music for the youth, which makes his spot as part of the 2017 XXL Freshman Class even more fitting with the cover line Generation Next.
"What makes me stand out as an artist is... the vibes, I'm cool," he tells XXL. "The music is there and it's great... I'm for the youth, for the culture."
Songs like the Pierre Bourne-produced "Magnolia," which appears on Carti's self-titled debut mixtape, have pushed the southern rhymer to the forefront of the culture and beyond due to its New Orleans-inspired bounce, booming bass and those opening lyrics ("In New York I Milly Rock, hide it in my sock")—he recently performed the track on Jimmy Kimmel Live!—ultimately expanding his fan base in droves. In a time when streaming reigns supreme, his loyal supporters have pushed the song past 28 million streams on SoundCloud and to the No. 33 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
Then there's his Lil Uzi Vert-assisted "Wokeuplikethis," also produced by Bourne, which climbed to the No. 76 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and has more than 33 million streams on SoundCloud. With numbers like those, it's clear the youth are paying attention to Carti. While he's got them in his corner (and people like A$AP Rocky), he's also looking to expand his audience.
"For people who don’t know about me, being on the [XXL] cover, it will enlighten them," shares the 21-year-old, who looks to Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, A$AP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa, among others, as inspiration. "The cover is a way to be more iconic, putting me into a different category. Really moving away from that SoundCloud shit. I don’t really want to move away from it, but in order for me to be successful, I got to. It’s not even about being mainstream. As an artist, you always want to never forget where you come from. A lot of my fans come from the SoundCloud platform. I just want to make both crowds happy."
He's on his way. With a label deal through Rocky's AWGE and Interscope Records, "Magnolia" being featured in a Sprint commercial, LeBron James dancing to the track during practice, Drake and The Weeknd bringing him out as a guest at their respective shows and ESPN's Highly Questionable showing him love, the rapper heads into the 2017 XXL Freshman class with some very solid accolades.
"I want my impact to be legendary," Carti reveals. "I want everyone to remember me as just a mogul. A young dude that just lit forever. I feel like it’s important for me to expand, to create my own label. With a label, I can just give someone the opportunity that I was given, you know? That’s what it’s all about, just helping. It’s not even about me just helping someone out; they can help me out too. I’m looking for singers, songwriters, all that. It’s all about moving on to the next level.”
Watch Playboi Carti discuss his music and movement in his 2017 XXL Freshman interview above and watch him deliver a freestyle below.
See Behind-the-Scenes Photos of Playboi Carti at 2017 XXL Freshman Shoot