Moneybagg Yo had a fantastic 2017. While he may have picked up lots of new fans as he crashed the charts, his success is the product of years of grinding on the underground scene.

"I didn't think I'd be this big, I ain't gon' lie," the Memphis artist tells XXL. "When I first started rapping, I was just doing it for the hood to notice me—the hood fame—just to get people's attention around the city, to make me a little show money. But then music became my passion, it got real serious."

Moneybagg first began his mixtape hustle in 2012. He signed with Yo Gotti's label CMG in 2016 and dropped a collab project with his new CEO titled 2 Federal shortly afterward. But his career made the big jump last year, as he signed a distribution deal with Interscope. His album Federal 3x debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and his collab tape with YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Fed Baby's, dropped a few months later, peaking at No. 21 on the same chart. His most recent project, the February 2018 solo tape 2 Heartless, reached No. 16.

The newfound fame and acclaim has led Yo to shift his music-making approach. "In order for me to get right, I had to go back to Memphis, I had to close myself in, get in the studio, lock in, and just think about everything before all the ice, before the money, before everything, and just vent," Moneybagg Yo says of recording 2 Heartless.

He continues: "When I dropped the first one [Heartless], I dropped that because I felt no love in the streets. I had ended up feeling it a little when I dropped Federal 3x, like just all the fame and everybody coming around, all that. I felt the love and then little situations had happened and everybody went crazy, fled on me, so I felt 2 Heartless."

Moneybagg recently wrapped up his 2 Heartless Tour and is hard at work on an upcoming album he aims to drop this summer. "It's really like, God, bruh—he played this whole thang out," he says. Considering how well things have been going, more love seems to be on the way, and he may never feel heartless again.

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