YBN Cordae showed up to XXL's 2019 Freshman shoot ready for his close-up, but not quite armed with bars for the customary cypher session.

"I didn’t [prepare] because that's the fun—freestyling is supposed to be a sport, a fun thing," Cordae told XXL back in April, on the day of the shoot. "So, let's keep it that. Hip-hop was founded by niggas freestyling. That's very essential."

Already considered one of the nicest new lyricists in his class of MCs, the Suitland, Md. rep knows the stakes are high every time he steps to the mic. And while he took a looser approach to his must-see cypher rhyme (coming soon!), he digs deep into his mental rhyme book for his solo freestyle, which he delivers with poise and purpose.

"Never will I ever forget beginnings," the 21-year-old rapper starts, introducing himself and his intentions in hip-hop. "A country boy who humble and grateful for his position/Never satisfied or complacent, my intuition/Is telling me longevity is the race that you finish."

After name-dropping the coming-of-age 1994 comedy/drama Forrest Gump—a cinema classic released three years before Cordae's birth—the YBN lyricist closes his verse with intensity, setting himself apart from his peers.

"I'm sick of this/Feeling caged in like Nicholas/Blood pressure high, stress levels is ridiculous/Came in the game, no chain, on some different shit/I'm just getting started, my nigga, this ain't the end of it."

It really is just the beginning for YBN Cordae, who has a bright future in music ahead of him. Most immediate is his debut album, The Lost Boy, which is set for release on July 26. On it, he's sure to show off more of his clever wordplay and challenge his capacity for songwriting across a full project. Until then, check out Cordae's slick XXL Freshman freestyle above.

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

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