Nick Mira
The Virginia-bred producer and Internet Money creative speaks on being the musical curator for the 2021 XXL Freshman Class.
As Told to Georgette Cline
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

“When I first heard about [myself and Internet Money being selected as the musical curators for XXL Freshman this year] I was really excited. It’s really cool for me because me being a kid in school watching the videos at home and then a couple of years later, I’m being able to have this opportunity to play my own beats that I’ve made… I’m very grateful for XXL picking us.

So, basically, since I didn’t know who was on the list, I just started making a bunch of new beats because I just wanted to make some new vibes. So, Sunday night, [two days before the shoot], I was like, well, Tuesday I got to have 25 beats ready. So, I just sat at my computer, locked in, and then made like a bunch that night, and the next day on the plane, I made another five and I was more prepared.

I was asking around other producers in Internet Money just for some just good loops that they had and any melodies that could get some ideas started for me and I could just cook up, too. And I also wanted to give another producer the opportunity, share that platform so they can get their production off with me and we can do a collab. It’s just a win for everybody.

So, pretty much I was just trying to scale around on social media who people would think would be on the list and look at random, possible lists. And then, I was like, well, regardless, I’m not gonna guess it all the way right now, so, I’m gonna just try to make beats that are universally like, anybody can use them. As I was making them, I was just trying to flow on them in different ways.

I was just trying to see if there were good pockets on the beat and if there was energy. I didn’t want to make boring beats for the cypher. So, that’s just what was on my mind when I was cooking them.

I think [the beats] fit because I kind of made them with the current sound and style in my head. When I was making them, I just didn’t want to make something that was like too old or too on a different sound. I just wanted to stay modern with it. And that’s kind of like with every year, the different artists that come up, the production styles might change just a very little bit, but there might be something minimal here and there, whether it’s the BPMs are getting faster, the claps are changing to different sounds and the 808s hit different. It’s just always different factors every year.

As far as the artists in the class, I feel like the ones who had a good buzz, they are represented accurately on the list. Like Pooh Shiesty has been having a great year, he’s been on fire. Coi [Leray] has been going up, she has been popping out left and right with different songs and different energies. And Toosii, I’ve been a fan of him since last year because I found him through DaBaby I think on YouTube and I just thought his flow was so crazy. Ever since last year, I’ve been seeing those guys rise up. Morray I’ve been seeing him pop up everywhere. He’s really been sticking to the craft and seeing him in the studio working on songs and different posts. 42 Dugg has been going crazy with the Scorpion sample song on [‘4 Da Gang’ with Roddy Ricch]…And the 'We Paid,’ that was one of my favorite songs from last year.

I feel like right now in hip-hop, the female movement is going strong and going crazy. Flo Milli, Rubi Rose, Coi [and] Lakeyah, they are putting on for that and turning up. I think that’s really good for the culture in general. It’s kind of different energy this year.

I think this year feels right [for myself and Internet Money to be part of the cyphers]. After last year, ‘Lemonade’ was going up and this year…we [dropped] 'His & Hers’…I feel like Internet Money for a couple of years now, we have a good grasp on sort of working with the younger artists and working with people who don’t always have the first opportunity to get the chance to work or the people that are on the come up. It’s only right for us to work with XXL because now these are the artists who have been grinding the hardest in the year, who have proven that they deserve to be in the spotlight. And we are just collaborating with them. We can all just elevate to the next level together.

For me, it feels really cool to be a part of something that’s a big staple in hip-hop culture. XXL magazine has been going at it for years and coming up with different classes and the top producers in the game, artists, rappers, DJs and they have been representing that… I’m extremely grateful and I hope that here on out we can just only go up.”

Check out more from XXL’s Summer 2021 issue including the 2021 XXL Freshman Class artist interviews with 42 Dugg, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli, Morray, Rubi Rose, Blxst, Toosii, Lakeyah and DDG, an in-depth conversation with Ski Mask The Slump God about his comeback this year and more.

See the 2021 XXL Freshman Class

Welcome 42 DuggIann DiorCoi LerayPooh ShiestyFlo MilliMorrayRubi RoseBlxstToosiiLakeyah and DDG to the 2021 XXL Freshman Class.

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