It's the season of giving, and prior to the Christmas spirit fully being ushered in, rapper J.I., the self-proclaimed Prince of New York, delivered a present in the form of his seven-track EP, Hood Life Krisis Vol. 1, in September. “I want the fans to know this was a gift from me to them,“ says the 18-year-old spitter from the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. As a pre-teen, he introduced his skills on the mic by flooding his Instagram page with a series of attention-grabbing freestyles. Then, he earned hip-hop fame by becoming a contestant on Grammy Award-winning hitmaker Jermaine Dupri's rap competition show The Rap Game in 2016. Now, with more than 725,000 followers on Instagram, the “Love Won’t Change” rapper shows and proves for XXL’s What I Do? freestyle series.

“I remember I wanted to be who I couldn’t,” raps J.I. “I use to sneak out just to be where I shouldn’t/I had a dream and they told me, 'Keep pushing’/I wanted to quit, for some reason I wouldn’t/Spinnin' the block, so we gotta keep looking/He had a chain, now he don’t, because I took it/If he wants static, I’ll let him have it.”

Thoughts of quitting may have crossed his mind, but he stuck with rap for the long haul. Not long after dropping Hood Life Krisis Vol. 1, the G*STARR ENT artist, currently boasting over 35 million views and 295,000 subscribers on YouTube, announced his alignment with Interscope Records. Now ready to take things to the next level, J.I. says, “You get to an age when you realize you’re not young anymore and I’m trying to really elevate and still give back to the hood at the same time.”

The “No Static” rapper, who grew up with NYC-centric playlists featuring icons like DMX, Jay-Z, Nas and Big Pun, is also determined to show out for his hometown. “I just try to incorporate where I came from in my music, so people can really tell where I’m from.”

Focused on the future, J.I.s vision for 2020 is clear. Starting early next year, he’ll be touching down in major cities across the country for his first headlining tour.

Catch J.I. body his XXL freestyle in the video below.

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