The surreal feeling of turning a dream into reality is unmatched. Those pivotal moments are often filled with feelings of anxiety, peace and motivation, all wrapped up into one. 2021 XXL Freshmen DDG, Lakeyah, Morray and Coi Leray reflect on that during their post-cypher roundtable interview, along with their thoughts on what went down in Atlanta on the day of the Freshman shoot in May, their influences and their shared mindset of growing even bigger and better in the future.

DDG turned years worth of YouTube vlogs and social media leverage into the foundation of his budding rap career. Though he’s recently switched lanes to focus on rapping and left his YouTuber life behind, he defends the fact that he earned his spot. “It’s important to be a XXL Freshman ’cause I feel like I put the work in," DDG shares. "I feel like I’ve been working extremely hard. I put the numbers up, put the plaques up. So, I feel like it’s my time.”

It hasn’t even been a year since Lakeyah signed to her dream label Quality Control Music and made her way into the rap game. Reflecting on how she earned a deserving spot on this year’s cover, she acknowledges that though it’s just the tip of the iceberg for what’s yet to come, the big cosign feels unreal. “I’m a newcomer," she says. "I been in the game eight months, so, this is like crazy to me... I’m just working and I’m here.”

Morray echoes that sentiment as someone who similarly is now hitting an unavoidable stride. “No cap, I’ve been wanting to be a Freshman for a long time,” he adds. "I feel like this is more than an opportunity, it was something that I watched my whole life and now I get to be here... You get to see people on TV, but then when you meet them, they’re actually dope-ass people, so.”

Platinum-selling artist Coi Leray offers insight from an artist perspective on how low-key the entire process had to be along the way. “This is some secret shit, y’all don’t know about this shit," Coi reveals. "XXL don’t fucking tell us nothing, bro. They just tell you a time, show up, wardrobe, dressing room, whatever it is, but they don’t tell you who’s on there, like. They don’t give you none of that shit.”

Well, everything has been brought to life now.

Watch DDG, Lakeyah, Morray and Coi Leray’s 2021 XXL Freshman roundtable interview below.

Watch DDG, Lakeyah, Morray and Coi Leray's cypher.

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.