Show & Prove
Words: Emmanuel Maduakolam
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Never doubt the power of the Internet. For Playboi Carti, it changed his life. All 18 songs on his SoundCloud page have over one million plays, including “Broke Boi” and “Fetti,” which have collected over 13 million plays each. “I feel like niggas really be on my shit,” says the young rapper. “That’s why I’m picky about what I put on my SoundCloud. That’s why I’m taking time with my [first] mixtape. I‘m going crazy. If you look on my tracks, bro, it shows you my progression.”

Growing up in South Atlanta, the 21-year-old MC (born Jordan Carter) dabbled with hip-hop, but didn’t decide to take it seriously until his voice deepened while in his senior year at North Springs High School. Upon graduation, Carti moved to the Big Apple borough of The Bronx in order to focus more on music and change his scenery. Over the next eight months, he focused on recording and making relationships in hip-hop, especially with members of the A$AP Mob and sporadically put out a handful of songs to moderate success.

In March of 2015, Carti attended SXSW in Austin, Texas and it was there that he first crossed paths with A$AP Rocky, who would become the young rhyme slinger’s mentor. The following month, Carti dropped his two biggest songs to date, “Broke Boi” and “Fetti,” which have both garnered millions of plays on SoundCloud.

Since those records, life has been busy for Carti. Over the past year and a half he’s gone on tour with both Lil Uzi Vert and then A$AP Ferg, dropped sporadic songs including his attention-getting “What,” shined on “Telephone Calls” from A$AP’s Mob’s Cozy Tapes Vol 1: Friends, modeled for Drake’s Summer OVO Clothing collection and signed to Interscope Records. “Carti is a natural born star,” states Aaron “Dash” Sherrod, A&R for Interscope who works closely with Carti and is good friends with A$AP Rocky. “In the same way that he instantly takes command over whatever room he walks into, Carti’s immediate presence on the mic is like no other.”

With Rocky and Interscope’s support, a buzzing tour presence and a strong series of songs on SoundCloud, Carti is finally ready to drop his much anticipated and as-yet-titled debut mixtape in the first quarter of 2017. “I just want niggas to look at it and say, ‘If this young nigga from Atlanta can do this, so can I,’” tells Carti. “I want everybody to get money. My new mixtape is going to show niggas this is the way.”

Check out more from XXL’s Winter 2016 issue including our Travis Scott cover story interview, Lin-Manuel Miranda's success with the hip-hop musical Hamilton, Eye Candy The Real Chela's Way, Wyclef thanks President Obama on behalf of hip-hop and more.

See Exclusive Photos From Travis Scott's XXL Winter 2016 Cover Shoot 

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