Baltimore is still awaiting its hip-hop superstar. The crime-plagued city that's most notably produced the likes of Los and Tate Kobang has proven to be a difficult region for rap artists to break out. Either their aesthetic and sound keep these prospects boxed within the DMV boundaries, or the streets cut their trajectory short before they have the chance to make some major noise (see promising rapper Lor Scoota, who was killed in June 2016).

Bandhunta Izzy is determined to buck the trend. The 21-year-old artist's "In Love Wit Da Trap" is just one of a few street anthems that have drawn attention to his gritty raps. Growing up in West Baltimore with his sister and brother (Bandhunta Jugg), the Republic signee had to learn to make a way for himself from an early age. After being abandoned by his dad at age 14, Izzy and his siblings moved in with their mother. They struggled to make ends meet, so Izzy took matters into his own hands around age 16, inadvertently pushing his mother away in the process. “I started selling crack—we didn’t have no way to pay the bills or nothin," Izzy tells XXL. "She found it and left.”

Izzy channels all of that struggle into music. "I’ve been rapping since I was young for real, but everything that was taking place was giving me more to talk about," he says. First spitting under the moniker Lor Izzy and releasing videos with Jugg through Iron Lungs Productions, the rapper began racking up hundreds of thousands of views for his freestyles over tracks like "I Got The Keys," "Panda," and "I Don't Love Her." The latter two ended up on his 2016 debut tape, Couldn't Picture This, an 18-track project that highlights his lyrical prowess and ear for rhythmic trap bangers.

Across the way in D.C., Izzy's affiliate WillThaRapper—who'd just signed to Republic in early 2017—was creating the DMV's next street hit with "Pull Up Hop Out." The two went on to unite their cities with "How We Livin," and a short time later, the label picked up Izzy, too.

In January 2018, Bandhunta Izzy released his sophomore mixtape Code Blue, with features from Jugg, Peewee Longway and Key Glock. Now Izzy's videos are hitting multi-million marks, and he's ready to see what life outside of Baltimore truly has to offer. "I wanna get my family out of the city—that’s a big goal for me," Izzy says. "For my career I wanna do some clothing lines and some acting shit. I wanna be a actor, on some Ice Cube shit."

Learn more about Bandhunta Izzy on The Break.

Age: 21

Hometown: “I’m from West Baltimore, Forest Park. But then I moved and started hanging in [Hanlon] Longwood.”

I grew up listening to: “Gucci [Mane] and [Yo] Gotti, but who influenced me the most is G Herbo. That’s my favorite rapper since 16. I felt like everything that he’s talking about I’ve gone through it. We’re damn near the same age, so I feel like I can grow with him as an artist and shit, and as a person. That’s why I listen to his music.

My style’s been compared to: "Herbo."

Most people don’t know: “People say I’m funny—I don’t really be seein' it. I’m not as mean as people be expecting. People think I’m serious all the time and shit from my Instagram. People only show you what they want you to see, for real.”

My standout moment to date: “Probably getting signed to Republic [Records], but Herb FaceTimed me the other day. That was a big for me ’cause that’s somebody I’ve always looked up to rapping. So he FaceTimed me and told me he just had a conversation about me, so that was a big-ass moment for me."

My goal in hip-hop is: “I just wanna give hope to people the same as me that ain’t have no hope going through the same situation. Nobody really came from my city that can give hope, so I wanna just reach down and at a certain point help other people get to a certain point so everybody can be straight, if they’re working hard enough to get it.”

I’m going to be the next:G.O.A.T. I wanna be on legendary level. I don’t wanna be another rapper that goes by; I wanna be somebody that people remember."

Follow Bandhunta Izzy on SoundCloud and Instagram.

Standouts: Code Blue

"BBB" featuring Blue Benjamin Sleepy

"Gummo Freestyle"

Lor Izzy and Lor Jugg's "BandHuntas Pt. 2"

"Boomin" featuring Key Glock

"I Got It"

See New Music Releases for May 2018

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