Blxst believes anything is possible. A year ago, the South Central, Los Angeles native was in a “tricky” financial situation like most artists who experienced the pitfalls of the pandemic. After releasing his critically acclaimed debut EP, No Love Lost, in September of 2020, and its deluxe edition two months later, the 25-year-old hip-hop triple threat started moving on up in streams and prominence. His blend of breezy singing, elite rhymes and supreme production earned him more ears and eyes in his direction than even he anticipated. Bangers like “Chosen” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Tyga, “Overrated” and “Pressure” feature the substance and special sauce that have earned him his rightful place in the 2021 XXL Freshman ClassBlxst is the only artist among the 10 other Freshmen who raps, sings and produces.

For an artist whose dynamic vocals command the mic with ease these days, the West Coast rhymer actually grew up as a quiet kid in California’s Inland Empire. During his freshman year in school, Blxst kept to himself while getting acclimated to new surroundings.

“Well, this was around the time I moved with my dad to the IE [Inland Empire], so I was to myself a lot,” Blxst explains. “I was real quiet. I kind of grew up quiet, but even more, because I didn’t know people there. Yeah, I was very observant my freshman year. I took theater freshman year [and] that kind of opened me up a little bit to be more animated. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I ended up loving it, which is crazy.” Putting himself out there worked to his benefit.

A former theater kid has now become the self-proclaimed “West Coast secret weapon.” After working behind the scenes as a producer—he looked to fellow producers-turned-artists like Ryan Leslie and Kanye West as inspiration—Blxst moved to the forefront in 2015, with his slow groove single “Who Would’ve Thought.” However, he wouldn’t get the recognition he truly deserved until he and Bino Rideaux linked in 2019, for the Sixtape joint EP. The people were finally paying attention. Off the strength of that project, Blxst signed a partnership deal between his own Evgle imprint and Red Bull Records last year.

Now, he’s a 2021 XXL Freshman with a debut album on the way. Before that, Sixtape 2 with Bino arrives July 16. Blxst has plenty to celebrate as the seventh month of the year gets underway. “As far as I’m concerned, [being an XXL Freshman is] every artist’s dream. It’s a great introduction, for sure, especially in the industry,” he says. “And it just highlights that you’re in it for the long run, not just be in for one day and gone the next. Especially this early, I know people are barely getting their eyes on me. The music really speaks for it versus anything else.”

Blxst finds himself in the company of many lauded former Freshmen from California. “It’s a big deal,” he confirms. “Even when I look back to it, my favorite artists is on there: Nipsey [Hussle], Kendrick [Lamar], Jay Rock, so to even be considered in the publication as those artists is nuts.” The Left Coast has been represented well in past classes.

This moment is surreal for him, considering a year ago he was worried about what’s next. “I’m just living in a dream,” Blxst affirms. “That’s how I picture everything. Like, anything is possible especially if I can get the XXL Freshman [cover].”

Along with his cover spot, Blxst also brings the bars. Once he gets going, it's clear why this artist is among the newest rising stars in hip-hop. His 2021 XXL Freshman freestyle features witty one-liners and deft storytelling that are supported by the snaps of his fingers.

“I just left Malibu/Mood on gratitude/I can't be ungrateful with a lavish view/Crazy what just dedication, plannin' and some passion do/Plantin' seeds, life inna be sweeter than a passionfruit/God's Earth, came away from Wadsworth Avenue/Agency gon' pay the fee for places that we travel to/Got it out the gravel, too/You was where the grasses grew/I'm the only one I could compare me to/We are not one and the same/Like, do I really gotta explain/The underdog really offa the chain/Actions follow ever quote that I bang/Manifest it, I don't talk it in vain,” Blxst rhymes.

He also reminisces on having a talk with J. Cole, getting a blessing from Nas and locking in a studio session with The Game.

Watch Blxst make his case for being the secret weapon from the West in his 2021 XXL Freshman freestyle, powered by BODYARMOR, below.

Travis Shinn for XXL

See the 2021 XXL Freshman Class

Welcome 42 DuggIann DiorCoi LerayPooh ShiestyFlo MilliMorrayRubi RoseBlxstToosiiLakeyah and DDG to the 2021 XXL Freshman Class.