As "Ran$om" continues to climb the Hot 100, the rapper took a break from prepping his new project to chat about his speedy rise.
What inspired you to start posting your music on SoundCloud in 2017?
[The late teenage rapper] Speaker Knockerz started this melodic wave. It gave me inspiration to make melodic music and make my own beats. When I started rapping, I was making music I liked listening to. A lot of times when people are in the studio, they feel insecure about what they’re making. I’m just being free with it.
How did you know “Ran$om” was a hit?
I noticed a difference in the beat -- [producers Internet Money] made it bouncy and catchy. It's short and sweet and gets straight to the point. I knew there was something there. My mom woke me up to a screenshot that I made [the Hot 100] early in the morning, so I couldn’t process it at the time. I was just really proud of myself. You can’t go past the Billboard charts.
You entered a joint venture with Republic Records in May. How have you navigated all this attention at such a young age?
It’s something I have to get used to. The internet is a place where it’s very easy to get attention. It’s a good thing, but it can be bad. That’s why I don’t talk about dumb stuff on Instagram. There’s so many people watching. I don't think I'm a face for the youth, but they like me, I guess.
Did you expect to have this kind of mainstream success so quickly?
The way things are going keep catching my surprise. Every day could be different, so I'm just going with the flow right now. But my last four drops on SoundCloud went to No. 1 on there. So when it was time to drop the "Ran$om" video, which was the most hyped song at the time, it just did what it was supposed to do.
Do you feel like you get more respect from your peers or are those close to you, following the success of "Ran$om"?
Yes, I do. A lot of people around me definitely changed tendencies.
A version of this article originally appeared in the July 27 issue of Billboard.