Lakeyah's dream to become a rapper started as a teenager, and it's clear she worked hard to make that goal a reality. The Quality Control Music artist is now a 2021 XXL Freshman, earning a coveted spot in the class alongside 10 other rappers. Her focus on sharp rhymes, witty wordplay and bossed-up energy have all attributed to her rise in the game. But like any rap newcomer, she had to put in work to get here.

The Milwaukee native first discovered her talent at the age of 15 after competing in her high school’s poetry slam team. Back then, the aspiring artist had the encouragement of friends, who pushed her to take rapping seriously. In 2016, Lakeyah, who was still in high school, was motivated to jump on the #SoGoneChallege, inspired by singer Monica's 2003 hit song of the same name. Her rap rendition went viral on Facebook and by 2017, she was dropping multiple freestyles on her social media accounts, gaining new fans by the day.

Two years later, Lakeyah took a trip to Atlanta and visited the Trap Museum, where she saw the Quality Control Music exhibit. The label was her dream destination as an artist. Soon, she up and left her home of Milwaukee and moved to ATL in hopes of getting signed to QC. Lakeyah continued to release music, pushing clips on Instagram, but this time, she started to tag QC cofounder Pierre “P” Thomas to get his attention. Her strategy worked as planned.

In 2020, Lakeyah posted herself rapping to the beat of JT of the City Girls' "First Day Out" in honor of JT coming home from prison. It didn’t take long for P to take notice of her rhymes. In January of 2020, he put in a call to Lakeyah, but it wasn’t until July of last year that she inked a deal with Quality Control. Her freestyle over Lil Baby’s track “We Paid” featuring 42 Dugg sealed the deal. Baby praised her in a tweet, P took note and signed her within the week.

Consistency and and dedication led Lakeyah to drop three mixtapes so far—Time’s Up, The Keymix ll and In Due Time—and popular songs like “Female Goat” featuring City Girls, “Big FlexHer” featuring 42 Dugg and “Poppin” featuring Gucci Mane. While she’s known as QC’s latest up-and-coming rapper, this year, Lakeyah's big title is a 2021 XXL Freshman.

If you’ve listened to Lakeyah’s music, you know she brings hard bars to the table. And her XXL Freshman freestyle is no different. Ambition and a competitive nature are all part of her storytelling here. “They told me stay hungry and stay consistent/I’m standin’ on niggas’ necks, I ain’t worried ’bout competition, I did it/Killin' these bitches, I’m here for the life sentence,” she raps.

Lakeyah, who cites rappers like Nicki Minaj and Tee Grizzley as influences, lays it all out on what it took to get to where she's at today. “Really the definition of coming from rags to riches," she spits. "I’ma rich daughter, shit-talker, I’m the shit/They some imposters, rapping ’bout shit they never did/Bitches really don’t know me and the shit it took to win/Call it my hood trophy, it hit different on my wrist.”

Peep Lakeyah’s 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.