Brooklyn native Jimi Tents has been on a steady rise these last few years. The 21-year-old East New York spitta made his debut in 2015, after dropping his project, 5 O’Clock Shadow, with the lead single “Landslide,” earning over 2 millions streams on Spotify. with numbers like those it's clear his music quickly captured the attention of many hip-hop lovers online. His success lead him to be the opening act on Justin Bieber’s Purpose Tour during the stops at New York’s Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center.

Now, after dropping 5 O’Clock Shadow two years ago, Jimi releases his newest project, I Can't Go Home. The 13-track LP features guest appearances from Saba, Ro James and saidbysed plus production from TheVamp, Rico Beats, Crystal Caines and Calez. With another new project out for public consumption, 2017 is looking to be a special year for Tents.

"My goal for 2017 is to drop I Can't Go Home and have it do really well," he shares. "I wanna sell out two shows in New York, hopefully back to back. Go on my own first headlining tour and tour with much bigger artists, direct support. Shit, to make an million. What else? I wanna get on André 3000’s new album, if possible. I’ve just been saying that shit a lot lately, ’cause I want that shit to happen [laughs]. Drop as many visuals, feed my fan base and just keep pushing; making everyone bigger and stronger."

While in New York City, Jimi Tents stopped by XXL's office to talk about his journey and where he's headed for The Break.

Age: 21

Hometown: East New York, Brooklyn

I grew up listening to: “I grew up listening to shit playing in the house. Whether it was oldies like Sam Cooke, or it was Jay Z or Biggie or OutKast. André 3000 is my favorite rapper. [Being Caribbean] influences my music because a lot of that shit is just melody and cadence and shit like that. I feel like reggae is very similar to hip-hop music, content, subject matter and how they approach the actual beats and stuff like that. So I feel like that shows in my music and my flow.

"I had to be like 8 years old, when I first was like, yo, let me try to rhyme. And that came from me listening to [50 Cent's] Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and [Kanye West's] The College Dropout. Those two albums made me want to rap. But it wasn’t until I was 15 that I was like, okay I rap, but let me record it now, let me attempt to record it. I wouldn’t say I got nice with it until I was like 18, as far as creating a song and learning how to structure things and things of that nature. Even growing up, I didn’t want to rap for anybody until I felt like I was better than everybody. So from like 8 to 14, or even 15, I’d be telling my mom, ‘Oh, I’m about to go to the studio’ and she was like, ‘The studio? What the fuck?’ Nobody knew I rapped so I was just working on my craft.

"It wasn’t really until my senior year of high school, ’cause I went to Medgar Evers in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The school’s whole model is "Black excellence." I had peers getting into fuckin’ Harvard and Brown and Yale and shit like that. I’m just like, I want to rap and I know I’m [going to] rap. And I’m [gonna] be the fuckin’ best at it. And everybody looking at me like ‘You’re crazy. Fuckin’ go to school, do this…’ And I’m like, nah, this is what I’m [gonna] do. So my senior year of high school me and my homeboy who’s in SleeperCamp—my movement with the group and shit like that—we tried this project called Sex, You Can Dance Two, and from there one of my teachers heard it and he sent it to my manager, and that’s how we linked up. And from that point I was like, yo, this is an act of God. Like, there’s no way that this would’ve happened. And from that point I was just like, yeah, let’s go. It’s go time."

My style’s been compared to: “For the most part people don’t really compare me to anyone. I feel like my sound is what it is. Most of my producers are in-house and we try to keep the sound contained. I mean there might be one or two comparisons to someone like J. Cole or somethin’ like that, but even so I still don’t see the comparison. Just 'cause I’m lyrical? And I’m light-skinned? [Laughs] I don’t really see it. My music is different.

Most people don’t know: “I feel like a lot of people don’t know that I’m as versatile as I am, and I will show that on this next project. I feel like people know that I’m a lyricist, but at the same time I’m well rounded. I feel like there’s a lot of rappers my age that are bashing the fact that you can be lyrical. Or like, ‘I don’t know who Tupac is’ or ‘I’m better than Biggie Smalls.’ I’m 20, I know who Biggie is, I know who Tupac is and I like lyrical rap. And I feel like all lyrical shit doesn’t have to feel like a lecture, you feel me? I like mumble rap, but I also like lyrical shit. I feel like there’s a time and place for everything. There’s seven days in a week, you don’t feel the same every day of the week. That’s what I want to show, that versatility.

My standout records or moment to date have been: “Shit, there was a few last year that was like, wow, this shit is crazy. One being we went into a meeting and I found out that ‘Landslide’–which is like at, 2 million or something like that on Spotify right now–we found out that that shit was charting in Australia. Another moment, I was able to be an opener on Justin Bieber’s Purpose Tour. So being able to perform two nights at Barclays Center and two nights at the [Madison Square] Garden, you know, those moments meant the most to me being that I’m from New York, I’m unsigned and I have one project out, which is 5 O’Clock Shadow. So those moments meant the most to me."

My goal in hip-hop is: “I used to have dreams where like, oh I’m gonna be the best rapper ever. Nobody could fuck with my bars. But I feel a part of me understands where music is now and I feel that’s where people can’t really compare me to others ’cause I understand music very well, and I feel my goal with music is to do it by my rules, my terms and be successful at it. Whether I wanna rap and then fuckin’ model or act or, I don’t know, make a line of skateboards. I just want to push culture forward, so that’s my goal.

I’m going to be the next: “Nothing. I’m the first me. Simple as that [laughs]."

Follow Jimi Tents on Twitter and SoundCloud.

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