Houston's own Dice Soho knew he wanted to rap since elementary school. That's partly why he bailed on a college education two weeks before he was due to start classes.

At that time, Dice's dad gave him an ultimatum: either he achieve a successful rap career in two years' time or go back to school. “I love learning, especially now that I’m not in school no more," the 23-year-old artist tells XXL. "But I feel like school wasn’t really teaching me the shit that I needed to know." Luckily for Dice, his career took flight with the success of the Trill Sammy-assisted hit "Just Watch" in 2015—with over 10.7 million streams to date—and he's been on an upward trajectory ever since.

In May, Dice Soho released his official debut project, You Could Have, a melodic collection of Southern trap with features from Wiz Khalifa, Desiigner, Kap G and 24hrs. As he kicks his sneakers off and props himself onto a couch in XXL's Manhattan office, Dice shares that he's about to drop two more songs with Wiz and 24hrs. The night before he'd celebrated the release of You Could Have at Manhattan nightclub Up & Down, and for the first time since he arrived in New York City, Dice finally gets a chance to relax.

When asked about the recording process this time around, M.W.A.'s flagship artist leans in and admits he "didn't know it was gonna' be this much." He elaborates on the intricacies of liner note credits: "You gotta’ remember every person that recorded you or was in the room with you and possibly gave you a word or pitched an idea to you."

When Dice isn't playing Fortnite or FaceTiming with fans, he's steady in the studio. He has features with Mozzy, Jay Critch and Iamsu in the stash. While he plans to drop "Slow Up" with Critch in a few weeks, Dice has his eyes set on collaborating with Latin artists as well. “I’m Colombian and Mexican so I fit in perfect with all these people," he says.

With a slew of connects and singles under his belt, the usually private Guess model is already on the brink of venturing into other avenues, including acting and vlogging. “A lot of people don’t know some of the struggles and the bad shit; the shit we had to do and go through to get to where we at now," he says. "So I’m slowly piecing everything together. I lost a lot of friends, I lost a lot of girlfriends. I took L’s. I was in dumbass situations at the wrong place, wrong time. Parties in high school, getting shot at for no reason and getting in big-ass fights at homecoming football games with other high schools. None of it had nothing to do with me, but I was with certain people where I had to fight and shit like that.”

Reflecting on the year thus far, Dice Soho seems genuinely surprised at how fast everything has taken place—he has billboards in Los Angeles in promotion of You Could Have's lead single "Giraffe," and is in touch with Houston legends like Slim Thug and Paul Wall more than ever these days.

“2018 about to be over—what the fuck?” he says with a smile. Still, he takes it all in stride, already hinting at his proper debut album in 2019. “It’s just gon’ keep getting better and better.”

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