We’re barely into 2019, but we already know Blueface will be one of the year’s brightest stars—and he doesn’t even have a full-length album to his name. Yet.

Born Jonathan Porter, the Los Angeles-based artist is one of the West Coast’s hottest rappers of the moment. He’s also a polarizing figure, with detractors coming at him for his off-kilter delivery. But he’s unfazed. The memes inspired by his wild rapping style led to him signing with Cash Money Records in November, which can only mean his debut record is on the horizon.

While we wait for that to arrive, get to know Blueface a little better.

He was a football player in a previous life

Before Blueface became the biggest thing this side of the internet, he was a huge deal on the field as the starting quarterback for the high-school team Arleta Mustangs—and a damn good one at that.

“Porter fired a game-winning 66-yard touchdown pass” in one of his games, according to a 2014 LA Times report, and “completed 20 of 38 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns with three interceptions.”

He would then go on to secure a football scholarship at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. However, the rapper withdrew from the college and moved back home after a bout of depression, which he seemingly references in his song ”Studio.”

His newfound fame was a complete accident

After moving back to California, Blueface worked a few odd jobs for a couple of years—including a stint at Office Depot and as a maintenance worker—before falling into rap. It happened quite by accident, when he started hanging out with fellow Californian rapper and Ty Dolla $ign’s cousin, TeeCee4800.

“After one of his shows, he had left a little charger piece in the car. So then, boom, he invited me to his studio session to get the charger piece back,” Blueface told 30MileExclusive. “I would consider myself an opportunist, so I seen it as an opportunity. I start writing down my little lyrics, and when it was my time, I said, ‘Let me get in the booth, man.’ And, once I heard my voice, I was sold.”

But Blueface didn’t go ham at first. Though he would regularly drop tracks on SoundCloud, he held off on making any music videos—until “Deadlocs.”

On and off the beat

After dropping the clip for “Deadlocs,” the LA native established himself as a force to be reckoned with. Several more viral hits would follow over the next few months, including “Thotiana” and the meme-making “Respect My Crypn,” which racked up several million hits on SoundCloud.

Yet as he grew more famous, Blueface also had to bear the brunt of detractors criticizing his unique vocal delivery, particularly his offbeat flow and high-pitched voice. “When you’re trying to talk but you keep getting hiccups” and “is he allergic to tempo?” are just two of the takedowns you’ll find in the abyss that is the YouTube comments section.

Blueface has, however, proven that his “offbeat” rap is really just a stylistic choice. In his latest release “Bleed it” and in this clip of him rapping over a ukulele instrumental, it’s clear that he can indeed stay in the pocket and on the beat.

“There’s a lot of people in the same lane, making the same sound,” the rapper defended himself to SLAP Media. “People say I rap offbeat, I say I just rap to a different rhythm of the beat.”

Hip hop heads have pointed out that Blueface is just a fresh face in a long tradition of offbeat rappers with loose flows, such as Juvenile, Suga Free and E-40. Ice Cube himself is in Blueface’s corner, saying that “he’s falling off, but falling back on. It’s one of those styles that’s an acquired taste, but when you get it, it’s fire.”

He’s looking a little blue in the face

Blueface’s moniker might seem self-explanatory. He claims to be a Crip, their color is blue, and thus he is Blueface. But there’s more to it than that. The rapper’s nickname is a reference to his goal in life: to make a truckload of money.

“Blueface” originates from the hundred dollar bill, which some dub “blue faces” thanks to their color. Benjamin Franklin, who appears on the note, also accompanies Porter everywhere in the form of a diamond-studded pendant dangling off a heavy chain.

“Named after blue face, the blue hundred dollar bill, the blue flakes,” he told Genius in an interview. “Everybody think it’s because I’m a Crip, but that too.”

And seeing how the rapper also has a face tattoo of the Founding Father, we guess you could say Blueface has a blue face… on his face.

Everybody wants a piece of him

The Californian rapper’s now quickening the pace, and he’s coming through on his promise to be the next big thing.

Blueface has been cosigned by Kendrick Lamar and Lil Uzi Vert, and has earned a deal with Cash Money Records’ West Coast branch. He’s also hit the studio with Quavo and Lil Pump, and is said to be collaborating with Drake, after the OVO boss slid into his Instagram DMs.

“Trust me, shits about to pop once people catch up. You know I’m always ready to cook,” Drake wrote to Blueface over Instagram. “Boi 1da got a beat he made for us that slaps so hard.”

Stream his mixtape Famous Cryp here.