• GOV'T NAME: Lontrell Williams
  • AGE: 21
  • REPPIN': Memphis
  • TWITTER: @pooh_shiesty
  • INSTAGRAM: @poohshiesty
  • TIKTOK: @poohshiesty_1017
  • NOTABLE RELEASES: Singles: “Back in Blood” featuring Lil Durk, “Neighbors” featuring Big30, “Monday to Sunday” featuring Lil Baby and Big30, “Twerksum”; Mixtapes: Shiesty Season, Shiesty Season–Spring Deluxe; Guest Appearances: SpotemGottem’s “Beat Box 2,” Big Scarr’s “SoIcyBoyz 3” featuring Gucci Mane, Foogiano and Tay Keith, Kodak Black’s “Rip Stick” featuring Sykobob, Coi Leray’s “Big Purr (Prrdd)”
  • LABEL: 1017 Global Music/Atlantic
  • CURRENTLY WORKING ON: Summer deluxe version of Shiesty Season.
  • WHO ELSE SHOULD BE PART OF THIS YEAR'S CLASS: “[Big]30 [and] Foo[giano].”
  • INFLUENCED BY: “Lil Wayne. He’s always had the craziest bars. Coming up, we used to study his songs together and break down the different metaphors. Chief Keef, he was one of my main inspirations. I watched him come in the game. He was young, just like me. I’ve always related to him and his music. Gucci Mane. Gucci is the G.O.A.T. I’m always learning from him. He’s schooled me on a lot, from recording my music to the business side of things.”
  • AS A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL: “[I was] always suspended. In Memphis, you could go home because you ain’t have the right clothes on. You’ll get sent home for the day. They gon’ send you home off your shoes. When I went to [an] alternative school, you couldn’t wear black or white shoes. I go in with some Js, they sending me home.”

TRUTH ON BEING AN XXL FRESHMAN: “[Being a part of this class is] important for my folks when it come down to me. Like, I could’ve been sitting there like, Man, I wanna make Freshman, bad. Then I would’ve been sick [if I didn’t get picked]. So, I had to let it be and put in a lil’ work. It’s like the next level. I did it in a short time span. It happened quick.’Cause it’s my time, I been going in. [I bring] excitement [to the class]. I’m lit. What I think stand out different, I’m talkin’ ’bout something different, instead of just mumble rap. A different style, you gotta have your own sauce.

[Being on the 2021 XXL Freshman Class cover] put another lil’ boost on. Make me go up some more. [The public] gon’ feel like I deserve it. I don’t think they gon’ hate.”—Bianca Torres

2021 XXL Freshman Class
Travis Shinn for XXL


Pooh Shiesty is one of hip-hop’s hottest new rappers. He reps the streets of Memphis, has a carefree attitude and piling legal troubles that have added to his allure. After securing chart-climbing songs and plenty of headlines, Pooh Shiesty is now a 2021 XXL Freshman.

Before he received that honor, the 21-year-old artist got his start in the game almost three years ago with an appearance on fellow Memphis rapper K Carbon's remix of Three 6 Mafia's "Weak Azz Bitch." The feature on the song gave Pooh a local buzz in Memphis, prompting him to take rap seriously. In 2020, Pooh, born Lontrell Williams, caught the attention of veteran rapper Gucci Mane. The two exchanged contact information via DM on Instagram, leading Pooh to ink a deal with 1017 Records/Atlantic Records last April. Since then, the rising rhymer has gained a solid fan base and a lot of momentum.

This past January, Pooh released his track, “Back in Blood” featuring Lil Durk, putting the bubbling artist on the map. The song went viral, and had hip-hop fans turning up whether they were quarantined at home or hitting the clubs. The visual currently has over 165 million views on YouTube and is still climbing. He also locked in a No. 13 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. In the short time Pooh’s been rapping, he has already achieved double-platinum status with the hit single, along with gold plaques for “Neighbors” featuring Big30, “Twerk Sum” and his album, Shiesty Season.

Although Pooh’s rise to fame came from his infectious “Back in Blood," and he's become notorious for legal troubles as well, he’s also been sought after by other rappers for his guest verses. Pooh’s been featured on popular tracks like SpotemGottem’s “Beat Box 2,” Coi Leray’s “Big Purr (Prrdd)” and Lil Durk’s “Should’ve Ducked.” The Coi and Spotem tracks earned Pooh additional Hot 100 chart placements. He’s also become well-known for flaunting wads of cash and saying his “Big Blrrrd” ad-lib.

As fans come to know Pooh as a 2021 XXL Freshman, he wouldn't have gotten to this place if it wasn't for other rappers that came before him. The “Neighbors” spitter grew up looking to artists like Lil Wayne for inspiration. “He’s always had the craziest bars," Pooh says of Weezy's influence. "Coming up, we used to study his songs together and break down the different metaphors.” Chief Keef is also on the list of rappers Pooh looked up to. “Chief Keef, he was one of my main inspirations," Pooh shares. "I watched him come in the game.” As for Gucci, Big Shiesty says, “Gucci is the G.O.A.T. I’m always learning from him.”

While “Back in Blood” still reigns supreme on streaming services with over 120 million Spotify streams, Pooh keeps his hot streak going by releasing seasonal deluxe versions of Shiesty Season. He has another one on the way. Pooh brings the same energy heard on his Spring Deluxe to his XXL Freshman freestyle.

In the freestyle, Pooh starts off with his famous “Blrrrd” ad-lib. Then the rapper begins to spit a cappella about street life experiences and lots of money. “’Bout 80,000 in these $1,000 jeans on, I’ma sag/In event a nigga play I’ma make him throw in his flag,” he rhymes. Pooh continues to talk about more cashflow and riding in expensive, fast cars, “This for any that come in my way while I’m chasin’ this bag/In my Jag, going fast with 12 Drakes and a ski mask,” he raps.

Pooh also delivers lyrics about making sure he continues his mission for success. He refuses to let anyone see him fall: “I’m at the top and I can’t fall ’cause I know they wanna see that/Blrrrd, blrrrd” he ends his freestyle while throwing bills into the air.

Watch Pooh Shiesty spit rhymes about chasing the bag as he flashes his cash in his XXL Freshman freestyle, powered by BODYARMOR, above.


pooh shiesty abcs

Pooh Shiesty continues to put on for Memphis. The 2021 XXL Freshman has quickly risen to stardom with his track, “Back in Blood” featuring Lil Durk, which currently has over 116 million Spotify streams and 161 million views on YouTube since the video's debut in January. Whether inside due to the pandemic quarantine earlier this year or outside as summer is in full swing now, the street banger gave rap fans a reason to turn up over the last six months. Still riding the success of the track and his Shiesty Season project, Pooh Shiesty brings the love back to his city, specifically Willett Avenue, in his version of XXL's ABCs.

Fans of Big Shiesty will learn a lot about the 1017 Records/Atlantic Records artist, who's currently incarcerated, as he moves through all 26 letters of the alphabet. The 21-year-old rapper is family-orientated, loves the city of Houston, has a thing for Lamborghinis and knows how to negotiate. "Always bargain, don't never pay the full price," Pooh delivers for the letter N. Life lessons from Mr. Pooh, a nickname he shares when it comes to the letter P.

Elsewhere in the video, Pooh says exactly what you would expect him to: B is for Big Blrrrd, I is for icy and S is for slime. On the more touching side, the rapper sought after by Gucci Mane also pays tribute to his late brother, Tee Da P, who died in February, with the letter T. And expect to see him riding in expensive whips. Aside from a Lambo, he also likes Corvettes. "V for them ’Vettes," he expresses. "Coming through in the 2020 ’Vette, me and Big30."

Get to know more about Pooh Shiesty in XXL's ABCs below.


pooh shiesty top five favorite hip-hop albums

The age-old question of who’s on the list of a hip-hop artist’s top five favorite rappers of all time is still an interesting topic of discussion. When the answers are revealed, fans find out who inspired their favorite rapper or argue over their picks. At the time of the 2021 XXL Freshman Class cover shoot in May, Pooh Shiesty named his coveted top five rappers.

Mr. Pooh kicks his list off with fellow Memphis native Big30 as one of his favorite rappers. “He hard," the Memphis native shares. "You gotta really listen to what he’s sayin’. He really talking about somethin’.”

He goes on to mention Gucci Mane. Last year, Pooh signed a label deal with Guwop's 1017 Records/Atlantic Records. “Gucci, he influence everything,” explains the “Back in Blood” rapper. “He the G.O.A.T. Gotta give him his props.”

Further in the discussion, Pooh selects Kodak Black as one of his favorite rappers because he can relate to the Pompano Beach, Fla. rhymer. “I can relate to his story a lot,” Pooh says. “We were both young and he was rapping before me, so, I felt like I ain’t have to saying nothing at first.”

Lil Wayne is also on Pooh’s list. “Lil Wayne plays a part where his punchlines are his lyrics. [He] got a lot of metaphors,” Pooh expresses. “He a G.O.A.T. for sure.”

Last but not least, Big Shiesty lists himself as one of his favorite rappers. “Of course, I gotta be on my own list,” the rising artist explains. “[I’m] working with different artists, making good music. Actually talking about something. Telling stories.”

Peep Pooh Shiesty talking about his favorite rappers below.


pooh shiesty top five favorite hip-hop albums

An artist's music is like paint on a canvas. That art is displayed on projects and songs for others to admire while some actually aspire to follow in that artist's footsteps. That’s what rappers do when they drop albums. It could either be for fans to enjoy at the moment or leave a lasting impression. For Pooh Shiesty, it’s all of the above.

At the time of Pooh’s 2021 XXL Freshman Class cover shoot, he shared his top five favorite albums of all time. Here, he gives a brief explanation of why these albums have impacted him. Pooh either relates to the music, was inspired by the artists who made the project or they're just straight up works of art for him.

Up first is 1017 Records head honcho Gucci Mane’s Writing on the Wall. It makes sense for him to mention a Guwop album since Pooh is signed to the veteran rapper. “’Cause his intro and them freestyles he was droppin’, he made from jail,” Pooh conveys. The next album is definitely a fan favorite. Big Shiesty adds Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III, which is a lot of newer rappers’ favorite album. “I think that was the best Carter [album],” the Memphis native expresses.

Pooh goes on to name Kodak Black’s Project Baby 2 All Grown Up. What does the 1017 Records signee like most of all on the album? Kodak’s ability to switch up his style. “One of my favorite songs on there ‘Versatile,’" Pooh shares. "He switched up his flow like seven times in a song. It’s like nine minutes long.”

Of course, it only makes sense for Pooh’s debut album, Shiesty Season to make the list, too. “My first project,” he says. “Go get it on all platforms.” Last but not least is Chief Keef’s Finally Rich. The “Back in Blood” rapper celebrated his 1017 Records deal last year by drinking with his friend and fellow rapper Big30 while playing this album. “I played that whole album when I got signed," Pooh reflects. “Swear to God, that whole night me and [Big]30 got drunk, listening to Finally Rich.”

Watch Pooh Shiesty explain why he chose his five favorite hip-hop albums below.


pooh shiesty flo mili 42 dugg rubi rose 2021 xxl freshman cypher

There are some exciting regional scenes in rap right now and four of them are represented in the final 2021 XXL Freshman cypher. Rubi Rose reps the Bluegrass State of Kentucky, a place that’s also home to acts like Jack Harlow and EST Gee. Pooh Shiesty was bred in the streets of Memphis, a city that’s thriving with young spitters like NLE Choppa and OG leadership from people like Yo Gotti. Flo Milli came up out of the prospering hip-hop scene in Alabama, also bolstered by Grammy Award nominees like Chika. And 42 Dugg calls the chilling scene of Detroit his home alongside hood favorites like Sada Baby and Babyface Ray.

First up, Rubi Rose coasts onto the Nick Mira and Paryo-crafted beat. The haunting melody paired with 808 bass, which hits in different pockets, heightens her orotund tone as she offers a verse about being on demon time, humbling the sidepiece and having sauce that thousands of people want a taste of. “Pretty little face, but this body like a porn star/Shiesty little bitch, yeah, you know I’m going too far,” the 23-year-old rhymes.

The heavy southern drawl in Pooh Shiesty’s verse is up next. The 1017 signee delivers a two-part rhyme, separated with his signature "Blrrrd" ad-lib. The lyrics about his position as a cricket when the federals are asking for info, honoring his lost homies and still being ready to slide at any given moment despite being famous now aren't new. Fans who listened to the deluxe version of his Shiesty Season album will recognize the rhymes from the song "Murder Skool." “Been nothing but trouble since a child, now I’m making my mama proud/I can’t beef with niggas rolling mid, I’m booked at Rolling Loud,” he flaunts.

Flo Milli tags in on the follow-up, giving her fans game on how to secure the “no face, no case” method. She dances on the beat, shining light on the power of her aura before speeding up her flow to unveil the precision-based skills she has in her armory. “He finna treat me right ’cause I’m a lady, but I got him fucking me like I’m a ho/It ain’t nobody who do it like Milli/It ain’t nobody who hotter than Flo,” she raps with a chipper pace.

42 Dugg has the role of the anchor. Showcasing his slurred style of rap that he deems “shit-talking,” the 4PF and CMG divide spits about staying true to the mottos he learned in the streets, putting on for his gang and running through holes like a NFL running back: “You wifing her, I’m fucking that Niesha/They all know a Kiesha/I think she fucked a reaper/How you doing? Nice to meet you.”

Watch Rubi Rose, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli and 42 Dugg body their cypher, powered by FX's Dave, in full below.—Kemet High


Rubi Rose Pooh Shiesty Flo Milli 42 Dugg 2021 xxl freshman interview

Creating the XXL Freshman cover and its supporting content is typically a hectic but rewarding experience during the day of the shoot, which went down in Atlanta in May this year. Selected artists get pulled in different directions all day, and other than grouping up to hear the cypher beat, don’t often get time to sit down and converse with one another. The roundtable interview discussions that follow each cypher offer them that opportunity, with Rubi Rose, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli and 42 Dugg being the last batch to have their thoughts shared on the entire experience.

Lexington, Ky. native Rubi Rose speaks on the celebratory nature of the day’s events and meeting people who secured a spot on the same elevator to the top. “Today has been super lit, super cool," she recounts. "The cypher was a little scary. Everything else was a breeze, fun. And it was cool to meet my fellow freshmens."

Flo Milli adds to that, explaining that though there was a sense of pressure to capitalize on the platform, the energy was warmer than one might expect. “It kind of shows a light energy," the Mobile, Ala. talent explains. "Like you ain’t gotta be too serious about it and shit. But I definitely think it’s like a milestone for people who make it on there. ’Cause like, you only get a certain amount and it has such a big platform. So, I think it’s dope to be on here.”

The 2021 XXL Freshmen also spend time discussing their musical influences, tracing back the ingredients they used to create their own stylistic concoction. 42 Dugg, the hottest young artist out of Detroit right now, credits Jeezy and Yo Gotti as his inspirations. “Just ’cause they was talking some shit I was going through or some shit I was living," says the man who's been eating off of his recent release Free Dem Boyz. "So, I’ll probably say them, far as music. That’s all I used to listen to, for real."

The four artists also flex their awareness of what makes them special. For Memphis-bred Pooh Shiesty, it’s all about having a fresh, new flavor. “Talking about something different instead of just mumble rapping…,” the platinum-selling rapper says. “Different style, you gotta have your own sauce.”

Or else you’re lost, as his label head Gucci Mane once said.

You can watch Rubi Rose, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli and 42 Dugg’s 2021 XXL Freshman roundtable interview below.—Kemet High

See the 2021 XXL Freshman Class

Welcome 42 DuggIann DiorCoi LerayPooh ShiestyFlo MilliMorrayRubi RoseBlxstToosiiLakeyah and DDG to the 2021 XXL Freshman Class.

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