YBN Cordae visualized his selection as an XXL Freshman half a decade ago, long before joining the YBN collective, sharing tracks with Chance The Rapper and Logic and receiving gems from Dr. Dre.

"The XXL Freshman title is important to me because I literally put it on my vision board this time last year," the 21-year-old lyricists tells XXL. "It's funny: In 2015 [and] 2016, I was like, 'Yo, 2019 is the year I'ma get on XXL Freshman.' I always said 2019 was gonna be the year."

All of that manifesting and speaking into existence has paid off for the Suitland, Md. native, as have his thoughtful rhymes and fun tracks. YBN Cordae is a member of the esteemed 2019 XXL Freshman Class, an attention-grabbing honor to follow quite a few early career highlights.

"This is another thing to add to the résumé, to get off the bucket list," Cordae says. "XXL is the embodiment of hip-hop... Eminem even shouted it out in a song."

Cordae's moment began with a 2018 update of "My Name Is," originally the breakout single of one of his rap idols, the aforementioned Slim Shady. He followed that up with "Old Niggas," a smart, sharp retort to J. Cole's "1985" that quickly went viral. Cordae hit the road with Juice Wrld last year and also toured with his YBN crew, contributing to several tracks on September 2018's YBN: The Mixtape, including the mosh-pit friendly "Kung Fu" and "Target," a take on racial profiling.

Since that early momentum, Cordae has released several singles of his own, including "Have Mercy"—which he depicted with an innovative double feature music video—and "Locationships," a nod to Jay-Z's 2001 track "Girls, Girls, Girls." Next up is his anticipated debut album, The Lost Boy, which is set for release on July 26.

"I still got a long way to go—I still ain't done shit yet," Cordae says. "This is just like a small step to the ladder of where I'm headed... [I'm] just staying grounded, keeping my head on the right path, not walking around like my shit don't stink because I'm a XXL Freshman. You can't be that nigga."

He continues: "Cordae is gonna be the G.O.A.T. in 10 years. That's my plan. And I know to say something like that, I gotta put in the fucking work. But [in] 10 years, I'm gonna be the G.O.A.T.—one of the G.O.A.T.s. They gonna be like, 'Cordae, that's a legend right there.”

Watch YBN Cordae reflect on his rise up the hip-hop ranks in the video above.

See Photos of YBN Cordae Behind the Scenes at the 2019 XXL Freshman Cover Shoot

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