DDG’s 2021 XXL Freshman Freestyle

Pontiac, Mich.-made rapper DDG is running rampant in a blaze of glory right now. In June, he confirmed on Twitter that he went platinum for the summer-ready remix of “Moonwalking in Calabasas” with Blueface, defeated TikTok personality Nate Wyatt in a boxing match for Social Gloves: Battle of the Platforms, quit his highly successful days of being a Youtube vlogger,  and was voted into the 2021 XXL Freshman Class as the 10th spot winner all in the same week.

Now, the 23-year-old entertainer joins the echelon of rappers who became famous before they hit the booth. In the last decade, DDG, formally known as Darryl Granberry Jr., made a name for himself off YouTube vlogs, which were earning him an estimated $30,000 a month. Possessing the advantageous ability to leverage social media, his fans made the difference and voted him into the 10th spot of the 2021 XXL Freshman Class over nearly 100 other talented artists.

“I’m the first generation coming off a different platform,” he boasts in his interview on shoot day. “You know people come from TV… Nobody ever came from YouTube. So, I’m the first to ever do it…”

DD, as Blueface would call him, swerved over into the lane of hip-hop in 2016, with a handful of Zaytoven-laced anthems like “Free Parties” and “Balenciagas,” and the Lil Yachty diss “Big Boat” in 2017, though the two are cool now. A year later, he inked a major label deal with Epic Records in 2018, and made his arrival felt with projects like Take Me Serious and Valedictorian. From the two, tracks like “Givenchy” and the gold-selling “Arguments” showcase his charismatic bar configuration, native to the regional sound of Michigan, and knack for driving home punchlines.

He continued to build his stock with freestyles, singles and features, allowing plenty of momentum going into the 2021 release of Die 4 Respect, his joint project with producer OG Parker. On the effort, DDG stands as a musical chameleon who can slide on any beat with any artist, whether that be YoungBoy Never Broke Again (“Hood Melody”) or Coi Leray (“Impatient”). The biggest breakthrough point of his career came with the Blueface-assisted rework of “Moonwalking in Calabasas.” The track has upwards of 130 million streams on Spotify, peaked at No. 81 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is now certified platinum. Their soon-to-come collaborative project, due this summer, should make some noise as well.

Many people might say that the sky’s the limit for DDG, but that’s only the view for the rapper, whose flavor is influenced by the gangsta content of 50 Cent and the versatility of Drake. “I’m going more for the commercial route,” explains DDG. “… I want to win a Grammy…I’m going for the big leagues.”

Now, he’s a 2021 XXL Freshman. The Midwest native was among many artists considered for the class in the past, but the timing had to be right. “I was excited because I have been trying to get on this list for about two years now so finally that I’m on it, I feel like it’s good timing that I’m on it,” DDG shares. “I got a hit song out. So, you know, my face is way more known. It’s not like I’m coming on here like, ‘Who is this?’ They already know.”

He’s got big ambition to be taken serious as a rapper now that he’s left his YouTube career behind. Surely, DDG has something to prove in his Freshman freestyle. In the mere 35 seconds of it, he punches in by still verifying himself as a mack who’s not easily impressed by the women who want to court him. Then, the rising rhymer lets it be known that his hands and body are nothing to play with if static is the topic of conversation. “Way richer than the first time you met me/Sent the addy if you wanna address me/Internet shit’ll never affect me/If you smart, then you’ll never a test me,” he spits off the strength of one inhale.

Short and everything but sweet, he wraps up things by blowing off temporary characters in his life and shouting out his slain brother: “I can’t trust no ho, they just come and go/R.I.P. my bro, we ain’t broke no mo’.”

Catch DDG’s Freshman Freestyle, powered by BODYARMOR, below.

Travis Shinn for XXL

See the 2021 XXL Freshman Class

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