Yet, thanks to 15 SoundCloud uploads that account for a whopping 83 million plays, Carti has managed to generate enough buzz to sign a record deal with Interscope and align himself with Rocky and the A$AP Mob.
In a new interview with XXL, the Atlanta native revealed that his debut mixtape, which he first teased in an Instagram post this past September, is finally scheduled to arrive before the end of the first quarter of 2017.
5 New Albums You Need to Hear This Week on Audiomack
Press play on new releases from Lakeyah, Larry June and Cardo, Cheque, Co Cash, and midwxst.
"My new mixtape is going to show niggas this is the way," Carti told XXL, explaining that if he could make it in Atlanta, other young aspiring rappers could too.
Really, though, his commentary works on multiple levels. Over the past three years, Playboi Carti has essentially become the Jay Electronica of "Mumble Rap," popping up on occasion to drop a new song before disappearing for weeks or months. When Carti says he's going to show others the way, he might not realize it, but he already has.
By only sporadically releasing single tracks for several years, giving each time to breathe in the marketplace before unleashing the next and never once subscribing to the popular churn-and-burn methodology, Carti has essentially laid down an alternative blueprint for success. While fellow ATL artists Future, Gucci Mane and Young Thug have released a combined 26 projects over the past three years, Carti has unleashed just enough well-received material to ink a deal, earn a co-sign, and separately join Lil Uzi Vert and then A$AP Ferg on domestic tours.
Inadvertently, Carti has served a reminder to all young artists that there are multiple paths to success—not just one.