In the age of the internet, a rapper's come up is anything but textbook. And in a time when meme fame and fake flexing can be finessed into a record deal rather quickly, Staten Island's Squidnice still believes in taking things slow. Although it's no secret the New York native has benefited from meme culture (the rapper became a viral sensation in 2015, when a photo of him as a child became popular as the “If he’s 5, I’m 5″ meme) and parlayed his buzz into an appearance fashion world (Squid walked in Hood By Air's Spring/Summer 2017 show), at 20 years old, he still has his priorities straight.

The artist stays true to the Port Richmond streets that raised him. "The hood came up with my name," Squid tells XXL with a laugh. "Kids started calling me Squid because I wore a hat and you know how kids like to play around with each other, ‘Oh, you look like a squid’ and people just called me that so I ran with it. And I’m nice at everything I try my hand at so I just made it Squidnice."

Rapping professionally since he was 16, the rhyme-slinger's career is off to a promising start thanks to tracks like "Trap By My Lonely," "Clout" and “OMG” with Smooky Margielaa. The new music is all leading up to his debut mixtape, The Craccen, dropping Aug. 22.

His new tape, partly inspired by a greeting among friends, has a deeper meaning. "It’s a mythical sea creature who has powers and is based on being mysterious, you know what I mean?" explains Squid. "And since I’m Squid, I call myself The Craccen. And me and my friends when we say hi to each other, we say, 'What’s crackin?' It’s all that in one. I made a triple entendre."

Get to know Squidnice in XXL's The Break.

Name: Squidnice a.k.a. Squid22nice a.k.a. The Craccen aka Lil Ninja

Age: 20

Hometown: Staten Island, N.Y.

I grew up listening to: "I listened to a lot of dancehall growing up. A lot of straight up boom-bap rap and a lot of Down South rap too. Nelly was crackin’ back then. I feel like I have a wide range of music that I was raised on. My uncle Shawn, shout-out to him, I consider him almost my music mentor. He taught me everything about hip-hop I could ever know. He still schools me sometimes. I’ve been rapping with him since I was practically a baby. He actually had a vision of me being a rapper when I was born. I only thought of being a rapper at like 13, but he always knew.

"My mom actually put headphones around her stomach when she [was pregnant with me] and she had Biggie Smalls playing. Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes. Oh, and Mobb Deep! Rest in peace, Prodigy! I got to do a show with him right before he passed away and I’m really proud of that. Being from Staten Island, being from a small hood on the side of Staten Island, I was very honored to do a show with Mobb Deep, you know what I’m saying? That’s history. It’s more than a jiggy song, it’s more than getting some bitches on a Friday night. That meant something to me. And when he passed a few days later, it broke my heart. It really showed me that life’s short."

My style has been compared to: "I’ve been compared to everybody but I’d like to say, ‘Fuck that.’ But I do get compared to X [XXXTentacion], I do get compared. Wiz Khalifa because of my image and the way I talk. Any light-skinned nigga with dreads is compared to me. I’m not jacking nobody, fuck that. When I drop my tape, I think people will have a better idea of where I’m coming from and why I say that."

Most people don't know: "My mom told me recently, because I forgot about it, my mom told me I wrote my first rap in third grade. It was about my shoes. It was very, very simple. I don’t remember lyrics but I remember it was super simple and I was just so happy my mom go me a new pair of shoes. Being broke in the hood your mom don’t get you shoes that much. It’s usually just at the beginning of the year. So I was really excited."

My standout moment to date has been: "Biggest achievement so far I would say my EP release party at SOB's. The release party at SOB’s was definitely one of my greatest moments of my life. Fuck rap, that was one of the best things to ever happen to me. I crowd-surfed three times and I’ve never done that in any show before. Every single person showed me love, wanted to take pictures with me. Girls were screaming. Everybody knew every single word of my songs. There was even a song that's not even out yet that they knew the words to so I know that it’s really love."

My goal in hip-hop is: "My goal is to buy my mom a house. That’s my first goal. She said she wants heated floors. I don’t know about all that [laughs]. But yeah, I do it all for my mother. When she ain’t have no money, she would spend all she had on me. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. I owe my life to her."

I’m going to be the next: "I am the next Bob Marley. I’m an Aquarius. I’m half White. I come from Caribbean descent. My music moves people and you’ll be able to see when it comes out. Not to say that I only promote peace and love and shit, but I feel that my impact on the world and happiness and self-love is really going to be strong."

Follow Squidnice on Twitter and Instagram and check out his biggest tracks below.

"Trap By My Lonely"

"Everywhere I Go"

"OMG" Featuring Smooky Margielaa

See 25 of the Best Hip-Hop Projects of 2017 (So Far)

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