The Bay has a long, storied history within hip-hop, and Nef The Pharaoh has been one of the more newer names who have helped carry the region's sound into the future over the last few years. Coming up under the tutelage of E-40 and collaborating with the Bay Area legend helped him get his foot in the door. The 24-year-old Vallejo, Calif. rapper's new album, Mushrooms & Coloring Books(which follows 2018's The Big Chang Theory), is available now, so he took some time from his busy schedule to visit the XXL office, tell us all about the project, and drop a freestyle while he was at it.

Most of Nef's freestyle is about his personal life and career. "I'm paranoid, my granny never visit me in my dreams/She was on hospice, it was hard, bitch, I was only 13," he raps, mourning his loved one's passing. "For all the times I wasn't there, wish I could go back and be/I lost my soul when she passed away/Fuck a nigga, mo' jiggas, boy, that might just be yo' ass today."

The MC is also here to share his loyalty to home: "It ain't no doubters far as clout, bitch, I am The Bay/They wasn't worried about big timin' ’til the Chang came/Now I'm yo' muthafuckin' father, check yo' last name."

The title of Nef's new album, Mushrooms & Coloring Books, has pretty simple origins. "I was under the influence, on mushrooms," he admits. "If I came up with a mind block, I would come out the booth and have a coloring book with me and I would color, play the song and get myself out of that block." This creative recording strategy��inspired the album, which includes 16 tracks featuring Nef trying new styles and flows as he sees fit. Aiming for a "summer theme, just to get people in their vibes," the project is a fun listen.

Nef The Pharaoh has certainly put in his time in the game, but he's still very happy to exist within hip-hop. "Rap is really like, my love," he states with a thoughtful look on his face. "I look at this like a sport. It's addicting. Every day I wake up, I still treat myself like I'm a freshman, like I'm still tryna prove myself." And he remains down to earth, no matter what: "Even though I achieved a lot at my age, I don't let it get me big-headed."

Catch Nef the Pharaoh's freestyle for XXL's What I Do series below.

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