Smokepurpp had his priorities in order back when he was shopping around for his first big record deal. “I was getting mad label offers for hella money, but none of them were saying nothing about the Freshman list,” the 21-year-old Miami native remembers. “I was like, ‘You got those M's, but I wanna be a Freshman!’”

While no record label negotiations can guarantee a slot in one of XXL’s Freshman classes, Smokepurpp had a promising backup plan: shake up South Florida and beyond with dope, dumb-out music. So of course, Lil Purpp was a no-brainer choice for the 2018 XXL Freshman class. And he’s not taking the selection lightly. “Honestly, as a rapper, the Freshman list is definitely the biggest milestone,” says Purpp, who remembers watching prior Freshman class freestyles nearly a decade ago. “Culture-wise—anything-wise—that’s the biggest stamp. Every year when I start making a project, this is what I'm thinking about. I'm trying to go hard so I can make the list.”

Smokepurpp’s road to the 2018 XXL Freshman class may seem easy as 1, 2, 3, but his grind has taken time. Along with his day-one homie Lil Pump, Purpp started rapping in high school. He’d been kicked out and re-enrolled in different schools around his city—“I was a class clown,” he says —which gave him a variety of social circles in which he could share his music.

Things began to bubble up in 2016, but his first true breakout hit came a year later, after he signed to Alamo Records and dropped the high-energy track “Audi,” which has been certified gold by the RIAA. The song landed on his Deadstar mixtape, alongside smashes like the Lil Pump-featured “OK” and “Fingers Blue” with Travis Scott.

Purpp followed that up momentum up in April with the anticipated Murda Beatz collaborative project, Bless Yo Trap, which featured even more bangers (“123,” “Do Not Disturb” featuring Lil Yachty and Offset). And he’s just getting started—he’s hard at work on his Deadstar 2, which he expects to drop in September and Purpp Vs. Hell for December.

Watch Smokepurpp talk about his road to becoming a Freshman and drop a fire freestyle below.

See Photos of Smokepurpp Behind the Scenes at the 2018 XXL Freshman Class Cover Shoot


More From XXL