Kidd Kidd has been in the game for a while, but is just now starting to get the attention he deserves. The New Orleans native was once affiliated with Young Money and appeared on Lil Wayne’s platinum-selling single “Mrs. Officer.” His grind didn’t stop there as he also got on 50 Cent’s radar—which felt his talents belonged to G-Unit alongside Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo. Signing to the label in 2011, the newest member of the crew is hungry to get more recognition.

After appearing on numerous songs on 50’s projects, Kidd Kidd is ready to tell his own story. Coming from the N.O. has helped shape his view on life, where he saw the difficulties of the streets that motivated him to make music. His song “Everyday” paints the struggles he’s been through. It’s both painful and moving at the same time.

Kidd Kidd is focus on his forthcoming mixtape, Street Fame, due out in late September. While overseas on tour, he spoke with XXL about getting into rap, his days in Lil Wayne’s Sqad Up, Soulja Slim’s influence and more. Find out about him in The Come Up. —As Told To Eric Diep (@E_Diep)

On Coming Up From New Orleans:

Kidd Kidd: "Just growing up down there … I don’t want to say we got it harder than the next person cause [there’s] everybody in a situation way worse than you. I don’t want to play that much. Coming up in New Orleans, it’s real hard to get out of there because we are so far at the bottom. My whole thing is I am still out there, and that won’t never change.

"Every time I come out of town, go on tour, overseas, everywhere around the world. After that, I go right back to home. For real, I gotta be out there. It’s kind of a balance thing—just pulls me back. I can’t help it. It’s in my blood. I’m used to what I am used to. I’ve been shot six times. I’ve been through all kinds of stuff and I’m still there. Home is home.

"Some people not real until it’s over. You know, keep it real with their fam and their friends. Stuff like that. Some people just not respected. If you ask anybody in New Orleans about me, they gonna tell you. That allows me to be there and walk with my head up without worrying about the other stuff. I don’t gotta worry about people running up on me because they know me.

"I’m from downtown New Orleans, downtown out the 9th Ward. In New Orleans, we got wards. A lot of people that made it from New Orleans, they were from uptown. When I meet people from out of town, the first thing they ask me, ‘Yo, you are from Magnolia? You from the 3rd Ward?’ I go, ‘Nah, I am from downtown New Orleans.’"

On Being Influenced By Soulja Slim And 50 Cent:

Kidd Kidd: "Soulja Slim, first and foremost. He was a New Orleans legend. He was one of those cats that was just real and put real life in his music. I love that he has music that I could listen to and when he say something like, ‘Yo, I was just doing that.’ You know? Stuff like that. He was one of those cats that did that. Besides being from New Orleans, I know everything he is talking about. I was always inspired by Soulja Slim.

"When Fif dropped, he was so hard. Going through everything, he was the same type. He was never a flashy type of rapper. Even with the “I Get Money” and “Stunt 101,” his raps are about shooting a nigga. Something like that. That was always hard to me. I respected that. That showed you how you can’t shake where you come from. No matter how big you get. If you were into that lifestyle, you can’t shake it. You can’t never leave it."

On Getting Into Rap And Tupac's Inspiration:

Kidd Kidd: "I was introduced to rap just inspired by people telling me stories. I am watching some of these stories on TV. Through music and stuff. Even though I was small at the time, I had a story to tell. It was always something everyday going on. Even up to this day. I’m not talking like months ago. I mean like today and yesterday. There’s still things that happening in my life. I just want to tell my story. If I could tell my story to the world, I just want everybody to understand and feel my pain and feel where I am coming from. I listen to a lot of Tupac and that’s what he did. Talk about what’s going on in the world. I saw the impact he had on people. I wanted that same thing. My story is just as deep or just as worse. I want to get that to the world. Just like 50 Cent. 50 Cent came out and shared his story and became the biggest thing in hip-hop.

"I started to get smart enough to understand that to put it in words as I got older. But when I was younger, I was mostly making rap stuff about the things me and my friends were doing. We were probably break into a school, break into a house, or something like that. You know, on my way home, I’d make a rap about it. I started off rapping like that. Even now, when you listen to me and my music I am just telling those same stories. I’m just telling those same stories. That’s what really motivates me to rap too. I want people to know what’s going on. I want people to know everywhere. Like you could go anywhere in the world, even though New York is one state, the name of every borough out here, you know the name. Even in L.A., you know the name of every ‘sac, Crips, streets, everything. I feel like New Orleans don’t have that reputation as far as knowing about everything in New Orleans. That’s what I want to bring to the table as far as for my city. I want to represent my city how it’s supposed to be represented."

On Meeting Lil Wayne And Joining Sqad Up:

Kidd Kidd: "I met Wayne in ’02, something like that. Beginning of ’03 through a dude from my block. He was one of those older dudes and he was cool with someone affiliated with Wayne at the time. This dude Fee [Lil Wayne’s best friend], I guess at the time he was looking for artists or whatever. The older dude at the block he already know, you know what I mean? Like, ‘Aw, man. no-brainer. I’m gonna get on it.’ He spit it and he know I am a real dude. I’m into the things that I am rapping about. I’m the truth with that. He brought me to Wayne and I spit for him. That’s the thing—they already heard about me. Not as far as musically, but they heard about me in the streets. They heard how I get down so for them to hear me rap about it, it’s like, ‘Yo, that’s the nigga.’ From that, we formed the group Sqad Up. We dropped hella mixtapes.

"[Gudda Gudda and T-Streets] are my bros. When you spend enough time with people, you are going to develop a chemistry regardless. Just being there and just working together. You are going to develop a chemistry regardless. Shout out to them too, they are doing their thing right now, too. Of course, [being in the group helped my career.] Just having a person like Wayne … you gotta think about it. I’m from New Orleans, so all we listened to was Cash Money. You know? Stuff like that. For him to hear me and be like, ‘Yo, you are that nigga. Yo, I fuck with you and this and that.’ That show me like, ‘Yo, I need to take that more serious.’ From that point on—no kidding—I never slacked up. No matter what was going on. I never slacked up on my music. I always put my music first."

On His Biggest Mixtapes:

Kidd Kidd: "SQ1, man. When we dropped our first mixtape. It was crazy because as much as it spread out and everybody knew it, it was like nobody thought it was me. It was crazy. I was still chilling. I was still on the block with it. You hearing people walking up the street, rapping my verse, in my state. And they get to my [block], ‘Nigga, that’s you nigga the whole time I am listening to this shit? Nigga that’s you? You didn’t even tell me you was rapping!’ For real, people just couldn’t believe it. But they believe it now. When people know its something real, they are going to stand behind it.

"To tell you the truth, I didn’t drop Kidd Of The Streets. Somebody put that together and put it out. So real talk, I wasn’t into the Internet thing and stuff like that. I didn’t even know how to do that. I didn’t even know how to do that. I was just recording songs and passing them out along the way. I’m happy someone did [put it together.] I’m happy they did it because I wouldn’t be able to touch all those people, so I am happy they did. I dropped a mixtape with Whoo Kidd too. New Kid On Da Block. That mixtape, it was just really to put out a lot of songs that people slept on. Like, the “Forever” track that Drake re-did with Kanye, Eminem, Wayne and stuff. I was on the original track for that. New Kid On Da Block, just put out those songs and let people know what it was and how it was coming. I put out The Reallionaire. The Reallionaire was all me. Tracks were real music. People want to hear real music. That’s why you see an artist like Kendrick Lamar doing what he doing right now because he’s giving you real music. Artist like J. Cole he’s giving you real music. Even Drake, even if some of his songs are for the clubs or singing or whatever, it’s still real music. He’s saying some real shit. He’s not telling it to you in a thuggish way."

On Meeting 50 Cent And Signing To G-Unit:

Kidd Kidd: "Just from me grinding hard, it was a crazy way he got with me. I did a song called “Better Walk.” It was a track that was already given to me by Sha Money. They had Fif on the hook. So when Fif first heard of the song, his first intentions were like, ‘Yo, I am shutting this down.’ Because of the Sha Money thing or whatever. He listened to it. When he listened to it, he was like, ‘Yo, he killed the song. I didn’t think anybody would have killed it.’ So he reached out to me. This is why I respect Fif, man. It wasn’t you got a call from this person and the secretary had to go through this and that. This man called me himself. 3 a.m. in the morning! Picture you sleep 3 a.m. and wake up to saying, ‘Yo, this Fifty on the phone.’ You ain’t even gonna believe that shit. [Laughs] For real, that shit was a blessing for me.

"50 knows the art of bringing it back to the streets. Like how it is right now. How the game is right now, how it’s more lollipop-ish type of music. You need that order to bring it back to the streets. Around that time, that’s how the music scene was and Fif came and brought it back to the streets.

"[Moving from Young Money to G-Unit] is more real. I feel like I am around people that you don’t have to be all flashy. You don’t have to be this and that. I never was the flashy type of dude. I never was that because I come from nothing. I am around people all day that if you flashing around me, I am going to jack you. You know what I am saying? Being around them, I feel like I am around home. I can be me. I can wild out. I wouldn’t have to hear the things I know I would hear if I was over there. But, 50 is a real dude. Y’all don’t know or might be into something, but he’s one of the realest niggas I met in the game so far.

"I bring new energy to [the G-Unit roster]. You gotta think about it, they have been doing this for years. They used to it. I am here now. We about to spark that energy right back up and let’s get it. It’s me. I am bringing my team along, Rida Gang. That’s how we rocking, all the way to New Orleans. From N.O. to N.Y."

On His G-Unit Records Debut, Street Fame:

Kidd Kidd: "The things that you are hearing, you can tell how I am coming. It’s all real music. Quality music. Music that you could ride and listen to and get home and still listen to it. Music that you don’t have to just go to the club and hear. It’s real music. When you hear people like Nas and stuff, you might not hear in the club and everything. But his music is so good because he’s telling you real life things that you can take and live by. That’s the difference with my music. When you hear my music, you are going to hear pain, you are going to hear the struggle, you are going to hear someone coming from nothing and making himself out of something.

"On “No Will Smith,” all of the rappers like that. I am no Will Smith, saying that I am not commercial. I don’t have the pretty boy look. You know? Just stuff like that. “No Will Smith” is nice.

"I got a song with Wayne called “Elected.” I reached back out to him a few months ago. It’s still all love. All of us from New Orleans. He know what I am trying to do. He know that I am trying to build. Shout out to him just for wanting to be a part of that. He ain’t have to do that. I went down to Miami. 'Look, I am coming to you.' You heard me? I want to make sure we get this. It’s not like its nothing new. We’ve been in the studio weeks at a time. It was good to be at that atmosphere again. Wayne, he’s a real workaholic and that made me a workaholic."

On What's Next:

Kidd Kidd: "I am just focused on getting Street Fame out, promoting it the right way. Hitting the streets with it. Right now, that’s what’s all my focus is on. The fans been waiting. God knows I’ve been waiting. I want to make sure its right and do it how it is supposed to be done. Like I said, I am trying to bring that new energy back.

"I am shooting a video for “Bury Me A G.” That’s going to be the kick off joint, for real, for real. Beat hard. Produced by the homie Phonix. We about to go hard on that joint. Every artist need that defining record and I think that’s my defining record."