If hip hop fans are wondering whether there’s still power in the tradition of the cypher, Drizzy P has proven it true. The 20-year-old artist, one of the newest generation signed to Young Money, the prestigious label founded by Lil Wayne and operated by president Mack Maine, has been working professionally since he was a teenager but recently went viral for his freestyle on the rap platform Bars on I-95. Featured among Young Money’s top artists including Mellow Rackz and Euro, Drizzy P (also known as “Tha Gift”) stood out from the pack with verses that alluded to his life story and his commitment to music.

Drizzy P's Latest Single "Hard 2 Believe"

Just a few days ago, Drizzy P dropped his latest single “Hard 2 Believe,” a track that also hints at his upward climb to fame and his dedicated work ethic. The Philadelphia native keeps things real, and even though the song’s music video portrays the ideals of stardom - hot women, cool cars, luxury - the lyrics are all gratitude and respect for the hustle. “Hard 2 Believe” was even shot by another Philly creator, filmmaker Devkamera Jawn, for maximum hometown homage.

“It's been an amazing journey,” Drizzy P tells Honeysuckle in an exclusive interview. “I feel completely blessed. It’s been a long time coming for seven years now. To see everything starting to unfold and the true vision happening, like everything I’ve been trying to manifest.”

Watch the music video for "Hard 2 Believe":

How Did Drizzy P Get Started in Music?

What the hip hop star (born Dominic Peyreferry) has achieved during most people’s “awkward years” is nothing short of amazing. As a kid growing up in the Broomall region of the Philadelphia metro area, he first wanted to play professional baseball, but he soon developed an intense love of music that changed his life’s direction forever. Exceptionally close to his mother, he credits her with curating his eclectic tastes.

“My mom has my heart,” the singer-songwriter affirms. “Every time she would pick me up from school or anything, she would have some old-school hip hop or rap on. She loved the music, so I loved the music. Jeezy, Eminem, Fifty Cent, Nelly… [But] Lil Wayne was her favorite.”

It was a fortuitous sign that one day Drizzy P would actually get to collaborate with his idol. As he found his way into the process of making music, he discovered its healing potential.

“I call my studio sessions my therapy sessions,” he explains. “I was never good at talking about my feelings, but when I was making music it was easier for me to let everything out. I didn’t have to find the right words… When I’m locked in the booth by myself and I’m recording, I just feel like I’m away from the world, from everything. It’s definitely where I feel most comfortable.”

Freestyling even helped Drizzy P figure out the key to working around a chronic condition. “The way I knew music was for me,” he recalls, “I got super bad ADHD [Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder]. I could never focus on anything; I could never focus in school at all. When I’m in the studio, I’m laser-focused every time. That’s how I knew I want this. It was the only thing that could get me to chill out, not be anxious, jumping off the wall.”

Drizzy P on BARS ON I-95 (C) Above Nothing Records / Young Money

Drizzy P, Geedy, and the Journey to Young Money

Starting to write his own songs in earnest at age 13, the artist was gifted professional-grade music equipment at 15 and began recording in a friend’s basement. In 2019, Drizzy P connected with his manager, David “Geedy” Appolon, through Instagram, and the pair embarked on a wild adventure of creativity.

“The first time I saw him, I knew he had something,” Geedy remarks. “He was doing his own thing. I asked if he had a manager, he said, ‘No,’ and I told him, ‘You need somebody to steer your career [the right way].’ The next thing I know, we’re in the studio and he’s busting out freestyles, boom. We’ve been going full force ever since.”

Geedy and Drizzy P formed their own label, Above Nothing, and have produced over 500 songs together. Drizzy P claims the concepts for his videos originate with Geedy, and that he wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of his major accomplishments in the past few years without his manager’s herculean efforts. In fact, it was Geedy who brought the young talent to the attention of Mack Maine. The three played a few rounds of basketball before Maine apprised the then-17-year-old in a studio setting, agreeing that he should be signed to Young Money immediately.

“Mack won’t tell it, but I beat [him] at home in Around The World in basketball, with my socks on,” Drizzy P laughs. “No shoes!”

“It was great to hang out with him in the studio,” Geedy says. “Being able to learn from Mack and Wayne, [you understand] they’re real people. They do what they’re supposed to do.”

Drizzy P (C) Above Nothing Records / Young Money

How Have Mack Maine and Lil Wayne Mentored Drizzy P?

Most of the Young Money artists speak glowingly of the mentorship they receive from Lil Wayne and Mack Maine. For Drizzy P, the biggest part of that relationship has been the older men’s accessibility and willingness to give feedback on his craft. His “Too Many Tears” music video includes footage from an actual FaceTime call with Maine, where the music executive comments on the sincerity of the lyrics and how the artist is bringing the track “to a whole other galaxy.”

“Whatever inspired you to make that, you’re going to inspire other people,” Maine enthuses. “You got a gift, you already know.”

Lil Wayne has been similarly encouraging. “Every time I need him for something, he’s always one call, one text away,” Drizzy P notes. “He always gives me the best I could ask for. He drives me to be the best artist I can, so much. [He] just puts me in situations that are out of my comfort zone, that allow me to grow as an artist and develop my musical knowledge… I always just hit him up to see what he thinks I can do better. I just sent him a song the other day to see what I can improve. I let [Mack and Wayne] know every chance I get that I appreciate it.”

Drizzy P on ON THE RADAR (C) Above Nothing Records / Young Money

Drizzy P's Creative Process

The rising star goes hard in the recording studio just like his role model. For Drizzy P, freestyle is often the axis upon which every other part of the creative process spins. He admits that he never writes anything down on paper when he’s recording, preferring instead to see where organic inspiration takes hold.

“I usually go through beats for like 5, 10 minutes,” he describes. “Whatever beat first strikes my attention, I just engineer the load and then boom, freestyle it.”

This ends up giving his tracks an authenticity and strength that distinguishes them from most modern music. Drizzy P’s songs are largely autobiographical, including shout-outs to the people who have influenced his life, often tributes to his mother, Geedy, Maine and Lil Wayne. (Unlike Weezy, however, the younger rapper says he has no connection to the cannabis plant. Drizzy P states that he doesn’t smoke or drink or consume anything psychoactive; his one and only “centering influence” is music.) Many of his singles also examine the nuances of relationships, from the rhapsodic joy expressed in “Hard 2 Believe” to darker feelings of betrayal explored with “In Too Deep.”

“It’s from personal experience,” Drizzy P asserts, “but I also feel like a lot of the world relates to relationship things in songs. I know how much I hear [people talking about] relationship troubles and the good parts of relationships too.” Ever mature and poised, he also pauses to state that young men in hip hop and in all public spheres have a responsibility to help change the stereotypes about a lack of respect for women. “The youth are watching us, especially since music is a big influence on the culture,” he adds. “You’ve got to lead the youth in the right direction. Treat women, treat everybody, as equals.”

“Hard 2 Believe” is just the latest single dropped in a long line of the singer-songwriter’s prolific work and appearances that show no signs of slowing down. Since 2021, in addition to his constant output of tracks, Drizzy P has made a splash at the UPROAR Hip Hop Festival, Young Money’s first live concert series, and wowed the crowd at this year’s Weezyana Fest, which took place in Lil Wayne’s native New Orleans. When the Bars on I-95 cypher was released, listeners instantly gravitated toward Drizzy P, calling him “the future” and “a straight flame fire spitter,” lauding his “hard flow and content,” and declaring he “gave [them] goosebumps.” Just as “Hard 2 Believe” was released, the artist followed this up with another stellar freestyle performance on the On The Radar radio show.

Drizzy P in New York with Honeysuckle editions featuring Lil Wayne and Mellow Rackz (C) Jaime Lubin / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @jaimelubin

What's Next For Drizzy P?

What’s up next? A new single, “Blue Sand,” will be coming in January for fans’ listening pleasure. Drizzy P is currently promoting “Hard 2 Believe” and doing appearances across the nation, so you may soon see him arriving at a city near you.

In the meantime, amid the noise and lights, the young star knows how to stay humble. When asked about his biggest goals for the upcoming year, he mentions first “[continue to build] a better position for my family and everyone around me. Another goal would be to keep building up my fanbase, reaching people, inspiring people, just continuing to elevate with my music. I want to be the best artist I can be.”

What does the future hold for this young man with his whole life ahead of him, so precociously yet aptly dubbed “Tha Gift”? There are definitely major milestones on the horizon, and they’re emerging rapidly into view, so it’s a good idea to learn the name “Drizzy P” now. Even as down-to-earth as the artist is, he can’t hide a smile when he predicts that fans should be alert because “the takeover’s coming.” Somehow we don’t find that “Hard 2 Believe” at all.

For more about Drizzy P, follow @iamdrizzyp and @youngmoney on Instagram. "Hard 2 Believe" is available now on Spotify, YouTube, and everywhere you find your music.

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Featured image: Drizzy P (C) Young Money