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Chinx’s grind to the top hasn’t been an easy one. Since serving a four-year sentence at Mid-State Correctional Facility, the Far Rockaway, Queens rapper has put all his focus and attention in pushing his music and reaching new listeners. His career has been highlighted by Datpiff-shattering mixtapes—Cocaine Riot 3, Coke Boys 3—as well as an EP that featured his radio hit “Feelings.”

“I did five [songs] on my [I’ll Take It From Here EP] because I know what I am giving out. And I just wanted them to concentrate on those five records. I really feel like I’ll Take It From Here was my breakthrough project,” Chinx says. “I’m showing you that I have no style. I am showing you that anywhere you place me, I am going to make my way.”

Once again, Chinx is adding another bullet point to his stacked resume with his new mixtape Cocaine Riot 4. Before its release date, Chinx stopped by the XXL offices after a wild listening session to share other mixtapes rap fans should get familiar with. If you didn’t know about Chinx, now you know.—Eric Diep

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Flight 2011 (2011)

Chinx: "If someone was brand new to me, I would want them to start at Harry Fraud’s mixtape. Flight 2011. I want them to start there and have them come all the way up to see that I don’t have no style."

"Me and Harry Fraud probably put that tape together in like a month. When I first got with Harry Fraud, our connection was snap cause he’s so hip-hop. It was easy to work with him, and we had like more intimate sessions just me and Fraud. Knocking ‘em out. I don’t even smoke no more, but I would hit the blunt with Fraud. It was real dope. That’s how that sound came out."

"That was just me. I had French on one record ["Back To Da Wall"]. Everything else was me. I made an EP. I didn’t get a big response as the shit I drop now. That was some of the groundwork of me … I would say Flight 2011 was not my breakthrough, but my ‘OK, he’s worth listening to.'"

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Cocaine Riot (2011)

Chinx: "Definitely jump into the Cocaine Riots. Start from one. You can hear the growth. You can hear it. I’m getting it in. Cocaine Riot, the whole name came from—self-explanatory. I was fusing too entities of mine, my family and my extended family. There’s Coke Boys and Riot Squad. That’s why the tape is called Cocaine Riot. This is the first one that I actually had a subtitle for. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it you know what I am saying? You could go through the Cocaine Riots, get familiar with those."

"I was always moving around as far as like hitting up stages and on the road. If I haven’t been moving, dropping these songs, it would just been like, good for you. ‘Cause I was moving around with French, going on tour with Drake. You know, aligning myself with people that I need to be around. It was easy for my projects to have profit. People who actually were like, ‘Yo, let me check this kid out.’ Girls mobbing me and the bitches seeing me. Its like, ‘I’m not doing bad. Ima give this shit a shot.’"

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Coke Boys 3 (2012)

Chinx: "I would think the one that I really showed my ass and showed collectively was Coke Boys 3. And outside of my team, I am not to be fucked with, [it] would be Coke Boys. The N.W.A. tape. I believe three. At this time, the homie was a little bit more [an] established artist so I had the floor to do some of my own shit. They expected it. Like I said, I am mobile and I am moving around. People from other states may see me, as well as other artists, come up to me and say, ‘You got crazy on that.’ So this is what they want. With me, I don’t have a style. I don’t ever want a style. I think you can distinguish me from the track. I don’t have a style cause when it comes to that point in your career when it is time to change up and you just in one direction. It’s gonna be hard."

"I definitely wanted to show and prove what I had. What an individual artist could bring. That moment gave me a little floor to go do that. To be on more tracks, more tapes. Compared to nowadays, we all put it together. But in the beginning, French was the one putting the whole shit together. It was all his vision. Everybody got their time."

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Cocaine Riot 3 (2013)

Chinx: "On national scale, it’s definitely one of my biggest projects ever. I went so hard with that one because it’s just that competitive shit. I always felt like I want my next one to be better than my last one. But in all reality, it started out trying to outdo it. Whatever pocket you are in, you just gotta be there. You can squeeze the best out of those pockets. I don’t go in the studio and try to make hits. I don’t do that. I just go in there and try to have fun and make the shit that I want to listen to. I feel like I am a good student of the sound of hip-hop. So I believe I know how to make the shit that people want to hear. Street niggas, and of course the bitches. I understand now."

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Cocaine Riot 4: Woulda Been Here Sooner (2014)

Chinx: "I really believe that Cocaine Riot 4 is my favorite one. At this time, I got a better understanding of hip-hop. The business of hip-hop. It’s not really, like, shit fuck the politics. It’s about the music. It’s about the culture. I got a better understanding of the business though that helps me appreciate, but the business is so fucked up. The politics is so fucked up. You got a nigga like me who is out here. One of the new kids that’s on the come up for my city. It’s never about what you deserve, it’s what you negotiate. So, if you don’t ask around for yourself with that mouthpiece that needs to get you where you need to be, that’s your fault. That’s why I came up with the song, “Fuck Your Feelings.” I’m a real nigga. Inside and out. From the street. Did time in here. Left out alone. Take care of my family. That’s a real nigga. That’s the Chinx I am trying to show these motherfuckers."

"When you listen to my shit, I just want you to know that all things are possible as far as it doesn’t matter where you are coming from or what crevasses you crawled out of, it’s about how you clean up. It’s always something more. My music is basically aimed at the street for those individuals, but I also have emotion and enough shit going on in these records that everybody can feel it. “A Couple Niggas” is universal. White boys are in mosh pits, you know what I am saying? Me in K.O.D. It’s just different. They with they niggas. I jump in the crowd with them cause its just a feeling you get when you're by your homeboys. Just let the fans know that I always give them my all."