TRUTH: On Being A 2014 XXL Freshman: “The first Freshman Class I can remember is when Wiz Khalifa was on because I was locked up at that time. That’s when I really got into magazines. I never saw myself being on the XXL cover. Never. It was just something that I loved to read because I was locked up. I never saw myself going this far with music. Music was just a hobby at first. I never saw myself being on stage and rocking out shows. After I got out of jail, I started to take it more serious, and that’s when my dream came true.

It’s a honor to be here. Coming out of jail knowing that I have no other option. I had two felonies on my record at that time, so I tried to focus more on my craft. At first it was poetry, and then I wanted to put poetry to a beat, and it went from there. Then after that I told my story. So a lot of my music, it’s storytelling. You can really find out who Quan is. I’m Rich Homie Quan, but for those who listen to my music, you can hear that I’m Dequantes first.

When I got locked up, I started to think about everything I was good at. When I was a kid I loved to read. Literature was my favorite subject. I loved creative writing classes. So when I got locked up, I read my first book in jail. I have been reading for years, but I read my first book in jail with understanding. When I learned how to really read a book, it took my mind to another place. So after that, then I started writing poems, and after that my poems didn’t sound like poems, they sounded like rhymes. I was like, ‘Let me see if I can put it on a beat.’ When I came home, no one took me serious. By the time I dropped my first mixtape, I knew I wasn’t ready. I wanted to let the streets be my observation. I would read every comment I saw. Then I said, ‘I got to drop another mixtape. I got differentiate myself from everybody.’

So I went back to the drawing board. Studio every night, 100 songs before I drop my Still Goin In (Reloaded). That’s when “Type Of Way” hit. When that hit it was really just murder it wrote. At that time I got locked up for burglary. I was a smart student. I graduate with a 3.2 and had a scholarship for playing baseball. I played baseball from age 4 to18. So I had a full scholarship to go to Fort Valley State University. I focused more in the streets instead of school. Not using my brain. I didn’t know what I know now. As a kid we all made mistakes. At that time I was breaking into houses. That was my hustle. I wasn’t focused on music then. By the time I came home I wasn’t trying to go back to jail. I played centerfield from little league until high school. I was Mr. Baseball in ninth grade. Baseball was really my hobby. Rapping was something I did to have fun. I never took it serious.

I’m a Freshman. Just thinking about my first time reading about the Freshmen magazine and never knowing. In jail man, people fight over XXL magazine. For me to be on there, never not seeing myself on a magazine, period, and I’m on one of my favorite magazine, I can only thank the Lord. It feels good. You can see the excitement in me. I’m smiling in pictures, and I don’t even smile. It’s a new level. This cover is going to gain me more fans.”—As Told To Emmanuel Maduakolam