A 19-year-old rapper with a lifetime of stories to tell, Markie hails from the East End of Louisville, Kentucky—a place that inevitably pours into each song he creates. “Where I come from is the gutter, it’s the trenches,” says Markie. “People have their ideas of what life is like in Louisville, so I wanted to use my music to tell them what’s really going on.” Made with producers like TrellGotWings (Future, Juice WRLD, Gunna,) 808 Mafia (Gucci Mane, 21 Savage), Richie Souf (Future, Yo Gotti), and Cardo (Meek Mill, Kendrick Lamar), Markie’s forthcoming debut album brings his magnetic charisma and melodic flow to that purposely unfiltered truth-telling. On lead single “Ugly Places,” he drops his incisive rhymes over a dreamy beat, layering the laid-back but bittersweet track with a straight-from-real-life narrative. With its beat built on a dramatically belted vocal sample, the harder-hitting and deeply soulful “Repent” takes its lyrical hook from words spoken by Markie’s grandfather just before he died.

Markie first discovered his gift with words as a little kid, finding early recognition by winning third place in a statewide short-story contest in sixth grade. Naming Lil Wayne and Boosie Badazz among his longtime influences, he got his start in music at age 18, teaming up with his cousin and recording his first song in a closet studio. He soon caught the ear of local producers, who offered him free studio time at a recording spot in his neighborhood. Before he’d even released any of his songs, Markie landed a management deal and quickly drew the attention of Interscope Records, who signed him in early 2019.