Most children aspire to be firefighters or ballerinas when they grow up, but New York City emcee Gist, a.k.a. Essence, wasn’t like most kids. Beginning to rap at the age of four, the professional emcee has been grinding ever since. Now, he expresses his dreams in the Nottz-produced freestyle Be This Way, from his brand new mixtape, Little Boxes. His sluggish delivery during the introduction, interrupted by glimpses of old-school soul, heats up into a fierce rhyme scheme as he divulges his struggles to maintain his identity in the rap game. Others might not like the person he has become, but Gist maintains that he’s always going to be him, no matter what he’s up against. To hear more from this out-of-the-box emcee, pick up his new mixtape, Little Boxes, available now.