Lil Bibby and Lil Herb are the next wave of young Chicago talent to gain widespread acceptance in hip-hop. While Bibby is riding high after the release of Free Crack, his partner-in-rhyme and childhood friend Lil Herb has been patiently waiting his turn. The duo first blew up from their “Kill Shit” video, which brought the focus to their narratives of the streets. Another turning point of their careers came when the likes of Drake and Joey I.E. tweeted their appreciation for the rising stars. Since the co-signs and bigger recognition, the grind hasn’t stop for either of them.

Lil Herb believes it’s his moment to shine. The 17-year-old MC is dropping his solo debut, Welcome To Fazoland, on the same day as Fazon's birthday on February 17. The tape—which will include production by C-Sick, Young Chop and more—is set to be a proper introduction to his music, as well as a homage to his fallen friend. If Herb has the same explosion as Bibby when he dropped his tape, he could have a bright future ahead of him.

During a week of heavy snow in the East Coast, we caught up with Herb from the Chi to talk about learning hip-hop from his late uncle K-Tone, meeting Lil Bibby and his new tape. We also get his response to everyone's favorite question: Why should you make the 2014 XXL Freshman class? All that and more in The Come Up.—Eric Diep


On Growing Up In Chicago:

Lil Herb:We from 79th and Essex "Roc Block" named after my brother Roc (RIP). That’s where we all grew up. The neighborhood really called Terror Town, but we roc block 79th and Essex N.L.M.B. Never Leave My Brothers. We just rap about what is going on out here and where we from. What you hear in our rap is really what’s going on. We just explaining what we looking at. Everyday.

I’m in the neighborhood right now. Everyday is story, everyday is life or death in this war zone. It made me who I am. The way I rap. The way I do everything. Everything about me.

I like that I got a good fanbase. I appreciate all my fans. I tried to gain my fans on Twitter or Instagram and all that. As far as being known and everything, I just stay humble with it. I like what I do, I rap about everyday and I write what I know so it won’t never get old to me. So, I just keep working and stay humble so I can become a celebrity. I hope. [Laughs]

All my friends support me, everybody behind me and what I got going on. Me and Bibby. We all got the same friends in the same place. That’s our homies. Almost 10 years, you know? We got a good support system, everybody behind me. Of course people are gon’ hate but inside our circle they won’t feel it.


On How He Got Into Rapping:

I been around [rap] because my uncle passed away. He’s real big in music. I just was around it. I started rapping for real after when I was growing up. My mans Bibby he used to be playing around with it. Me and him, messed around and started doing it over the phone. We really started taking it serious probably around 2010, 2011. Something like that. We really started taking it seriously. Started over the phone and then we started going to the studio with my homie DJ Kenn. Really, it started from there. We started recording. Bibby just dropped his first mixtape. I haven’t dropped mine, my tape. We are just recording, doing the videos, the YouTube. That’s how we created our buzz and our fanbase pretty much.

His name is K-Tone. He worked with people like Twista and Traxster. People like that. Mikkey Halsted, he’s familiar with who my Uncle was. He passed away when he was like 13. Being around him, [watching him play] like keyboards and stuff. I don’t really know how to work it, I just sitting around and [watched him.] I was just a big fan of hip-hop, where I am from, growing up. Just listening to hip-hop. I spent a lot of summers with [my uncle] growing up.

On Meeting Lil Bibby:

We from the same neighborhood. We met way, way before rap. Just growing up, homies. We used to play basketball together. Grew up in the neighborhood, we was always just been friends and we did this rap. We just started getting into rap and it started taking off quick. We started buzzing so we just kept on doing and pushing. I can’t even remember we’ve been friends for so long. [We’re] pushing everything together. I’m really just pushing my mixtape, Welcome To Fazoland, that’s the name of my tape.

“Kill Shit” was the song that really just buzzed us. It got almost five million views now on YouTube. It just really pushed us. We didn’t think it was gonna do what it do. That’s around the same time we was playing around. It was probably our third video or something like that. It’s really just [the place]. It ain’t about the visuals or nothing. I think people just mess with it hard because of lyrics.

Me and Bibby took it serious around the same time. After my homie Fazon died and we lost a couple of our homies, we just started rapping. I really just rap about what I am living in, my lifestyle, everyday. What I grew up around. When my mixtape drop, it’s really going to give you an inside look of Chicago and what is going on out here.

At the end of the day, we solo artists. Separate artists, but we homies at the end of the day. I know a lot of our fans when we rap together. We ain’t gonna stop doing shit like that. We still gonna drop a tape together after we drop our separate mixtapes. We really just going off our own buzz right now. He dropped his tape, he doing what he doing. And now, my fans or a lot of both our fans waiting on my tape.


On Welcome To Fazoland:

The inspiration behind the title of Welcome To Fazoland it’s an introduction of who I am as far as me breaking into my career. Who I am, where I am from. It is called Welcome To Fazoland because it’s named after my homie Fazon. He passed away in 2010. I just named my mixtape after him. [It’s] a message to him. You know, that’s what we named our hood after him. It’s really just introducing who I am in the end. We just gonna do all this for Chicago. You are gonna get a real inside look of my life in Chicago and what’s really going on in my point of view. A younger point of view.

[Me and Fazo] grew up together. Me and my homie, we grind. It’s in memory of him [so] I just named it Welcome To Fazoland. I’ve been listening to that tape for almost two years. Literally. I was going hard at the time, and I never changed the name of it. It was always Welcome To Fazoland. Fake Shore Drive dropped a compilation tape [Heir Apparents] with me and Bibby, but that was just a tape that we let them put together. That was really pushing my tape, Welcome To Fazoland.

I was working with Tink for her mixtape, but pretty much my tape is me, Bibby, King Louie, Lil Reese on my tape. Pretty much it’s just me on my first mixtape. As far as putting everything in one, we did a lot that fits in that category. I have some good features on there too.


On What's Next:

The date I was pushing for my mixtape is February 17. That’s actually his birthday. I was gonna tweet it the day I was actually gonna put it with my videos or something. But I told myself XXL gonna ask the day it might be out, I was gonna tell you the date.

As far as after my mixtape drops, [I'm going to] keep working. Whatever the future holds. I know when I drop my tape it’ll be a breakout of my career. The doors will open from there. Keep working, probably not gonna slack or anything. You’ll get a lot more Herb coming. I’m excited. I’ve been pushing my tape for almost two years. I’m actually excited that I am dropping my tape around the corner. There isn’t really pressure. Keep working.


On Why He Should Be A XXL Freshman:

I feel like I should be a Freshman because my mixtape that I am pushing. I feel like it’ll be a classic. It’s gonna tell a story. I am actually excited that it’s my first mixtape so people could get a look at the way I am moving. I feel like it’ll tell people even now ‘till 2015. I feel like my mixtape should and would be considered a classic when I drop it. It’s really tells the story of who I am and where I from. I feel like it’s real rap. It’s real lyrics. I am telling real stories. I feel like a lot of people will feel it worldwide, across the country.