The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Lil Keed is having the best year of his entire 21 years of life. With Atlanta proven to be its own subculture of hip hop from this generation’s favorites Future, Gucci Mane, and Young Thug to the OGs such as T.I., Jeezy, and even Outkast, the city has birthed some of rap’s biggest names to date.

When it comes to newcomers out the A, Lil Keed rises to the top. It’s hard to create your own lane in an oversaturated music industry. The challenge is to not sound like anyone else, which is something Keed has seemingly mastered. His ability to sing, rap, create melody, and freestyle does not go unnoticed. Combine it with a relentless work ethic, passion, and drive, and you have a superstar in the making.

Keed comes from humble beginnings, growing up in the streets on the Southside — Zone 3 to be exact. In fact, he was raised in the Cleveland Avenue apartments where Thugger hails. In 2016, his good friend Rudy passed away and left Keed with the realization he had no choice but to commit to the rap game. From there, he spent his waking hours in the lab and formulated records that people in his neighborhood could feel wholeheartedly.

Being signed to the YSL family speaks volumes in itself, but Keed has never settled to be just Thugger’s protege. You may have first seen his name featured on Thugger’s 2018 Slime Language compilation album or more recently on “Big Tipper” off So Much Fun. But, the star, whose real name is Raqhid Render, has his own list of hit songs. From “Blicky Blicky” to “Fetish” (which received a fire remix from Slime) to most recently “Nameless,” these songs have had their fair share of turning up functions in and out of Atlanta.

REVOLT caught up with Lil Keed to discuss his cosign from Drake, his relationship with Thugger, fatherhood, “Nameless” going gold, and more. Read below!

‘Nameless’ just went gold. How are you feeling?

I’m blessed. My first song that got out there went gold!

Did you think it would be this fast?

That was fast to y’all?

For your career, it’s pretty fast.

Yeah career-wise, it’s blowing up. Maybe because it’s me going through it, all the shit I go through everyday. To y’all, y’all just see what’s on Instagram.

What are you going through every day?

I’m a dad and shit! I got a family. She’s 9 months, got a big girl. [Fatherhood] keeps you out of trouble. You’ll think before you do something.

What’s her favorite Lil Keed song?

‘Nameless’! She do her head like this (bobs head motion).

Can you bring us back to that recording session?

It was last year, we were in the studio every day like I normally do. I did ‘Oh My God’ and ‘Nameless’ the same night. Folks don’t know I did both those songs the same night, and there’s another song that I’m finna drop on my new album called ‘Inhale, Exhale.’ I didn’t think it was a big deal, I was just making songs. My label heard it, they’re like, ‘This the one right here! You got to use this one.’ It went up.

Can you talk about having Drake pop up onstage at your L.A. show?

That was crazy. It was a moment. That was a real moment.

Did you know he was going to be there?

Hell nah! I didn’t know shit. I just seen his ass come in there. I had just finished getting ready to go onstage and I came through the little area from where the dressing rooms are at. He was coming out the dressing room, I was coming out into the dressing room. That’s why you seen the picture of us hugging each other. Matter of fact that cameraman came and got me like, ‘Drake’s looking for you!’ I said, ‘Where he at?’ I thought they were lying, but they took me straight to him.

What were those first encounters like?

I had a show at this club called Poppy. He came and we shut the club down. We got mischievous.

How does it feel to have the cosign from the biggest artist in the game?

It was great. He always does that with folks, but only with people who are fire.

Y’all got music?

Of course. You gotta hold that down… maybe!

What’s your favorite song to perform?

‘Oh My God!’ That shit just brings a different type of energy. And when I come out to ‘It’s Up Freestyle’ …that shit is crazy.

What is ‘hoodbaby shit’?

That’s my brother Lil Gotit, his little brand. He just says ‘hoodbaby’ because he’s like, ‘You from the ghetto. You from the projects.’ Blood brothers, same mama and dad. Real brothers, we treat this shit like an everyday thing. We don’t get too happy, but we stay level-headed because we don’t want to blow nothing out of proportion.

What do your parents think?

They love it. They listen to our music every day. Well my dad, he just got out of the hospital because he had a stroke three weeks ago. We’ve been making sure he was good. Other than that, he’s still listening to our music. He’s recovering and shit, so we’re good.

Their kids are superstars in the making.

In the making. We’re getting bigger and bigger. First quarter!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five or six years, I’m going to be in movies. I don’t want to keep rapping all my life. I ain’t doing that, hell nah! I’m going movie, movie Keed. Come on man, I’ll go the Ice Cube way. I’m going to take acting classes, that would be fun. I want to do a shooting movie, an action movie! One of them movies, fighting shit, that shit’s crazy.

People say you and Gotit have the same trajectory as Thugger and Gunna when they were coming up. How does that make you feel?

It’s big for them to say that. Then when we’re all around each other, it’s great energy. Thugger’s funny as fuck… And Gunna, Gunna’s funny as hell.

What did Thugger see in you?

The dedication. The hard work. I wasn’t just no young dude, I ain’t just trying to get on a quick hustle. I’m rapping. Until Slime called me, kept pushing and pushing. Still pushing. I don’t call him for shit. I handle my own business and he sees that in me. It’s real grown man shit.

Did you grow up to him in the A?

Hell yeah! I always listened to Slime. Everybody always listened to Slime. You know, he’s a great person.

Favorite Slime song?

I like ‘Curtains,’ a song he has featuring Shawty Lo and Skooly. Rest in peace Shawty Lo.

What did it mean to be featured on So Much Fun?

On the ‘Big Tipper’? That shit crazy because he had three verses on that song. That’s why it sounds like that when it comes on. You hear a verse, then he comes on with the hook, then he comes on with another verse. He had three verses, but he just took one of them off and I got on it. Then, I starting saying the hook in my voice. It’s crazy how ya’ll blended it in there.

When did you know you could use your voice like that?

After just every day being in the studio, trying new things. I don’t want people to be like, ‘He sounds the same on every song, that shit’s boring!’ I can sing. I can do straight rap. I do melodies. I do rockstar shit. It’s real genuine.

Is it effortless for you?

Yeah, it’s easy! You know how folks work on a song for a month? It takes months to make a hit song, my shit takes minutes.

Do you freestyle everything?

Hell yeah! It’s life. You rap about your life. I’m rapping about my life. I don’t have to write my life down, I’m just going to tell you because it’s coming from the heart, what I have to write it down for? That’s the difference between me and them. They have to write down to make a hit song, I don’t. I just reach from the heart, make it, then it’s a hit. Folks think you can just know how to rap, you have to learn how to construct a song. That’s how you make a hit song, I learned that from Future. I just know off his interviews. He did an interview, he’s like, ‘Folks think you can just drop and then be a big artist. No, you have to know how to construct a song. You have to know how to put this where, these have to be in the right place at the right time.’ Just watching him, Thug, and Gunna, how they work, I see why they’re where they at.

How’s it feel to have worked with Future?

Me and him got a song called ‘Undefeated.’ It’s already out, that shit’s fire.

Jerrika Karlae said you guys have a tape together?

We got so many songs. ‘Higher N Higher’ was the first song we ever did together. I end up putting it on my tape, on my album.

She said you were coaching her in the studio.

Hell yeah, got to. That’s my motherfucking sister.

Three things you need in the studio?

Hennessy, candy — I like Lifesavers, the purple bag. I like Hot Flaming Cheddar Ruffles, and a white Kit Kat. My engineer, Doug.

What’s one thing you want fans to take away from Long Live Mexico?

It was a life thing. Just be you. I don’t try to be nobody, I be me. That’s why everybody gravitates to me, no cap.

What is it about Lil Keed that fans love?

I’m real. I don’t even like saying I’m real all the time, I don’t have to say that. I’m just being me. I do shit that rappers want to do. I’ll go on Live for like an hour! Doing dumbass shit, they be looking. I’m making jokes. I let them in my everyday life. Most rappers don’t do that. I show them me, my personality. The side they want to really see. Folks be scared, they want us to show the superstar status all the time. I don’t have to do all that shit.

Do you ever feel like you need privacy?

Hell nah, I can’t explain it. I still go out in public myself. I don’t know why I do that — with all my jewelry, everything. I go out in public and I mind my business. They see me, they want to take pictures. Folks aren’t coming looking to harm me or none of that. They want to take pictures.

Best encounter with a fan?

I’ve had a lot of good encounters, great encounters. There [are] too many. I had one where I smacked his phone out of his hand, but it was for a reason though, because he wouldn’t give me privacy to talk to my baby mama. He’s in our business. I told him I’d take a picture with him, but hold up real fast. I took his phone and threw it. It’s okay though, I’ll buy him a phone if I ever see him again.

What’s next for you?

Album! Trapped On Cleveland 3, it’s the third series in this shit. It’s a beautiful piece, man. I’m still working on it, but it’s soon soon. You have to stay tuned.