“I’m the hardest-working rapper,” Rich the Kid says.

He’s at an airport in Phoenix, Arizona, in the midst of a tour with his friends in Migos, the trio that has dominated rap for the past few years with hits like “Fight Night,” “Handsome and Wealthy” and “Versace.” Their latest hit, “Look at My Dab,” mines the viral dance craze made famous by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Rich the Kid is forcing us to pay attention to him with an avalanche of viral tracks

Rich, the Atlanta-raised rapper and unofficial fourth Migo, is primed to follow in his friends’ footsteps. In recent months, he has been in the studio with Frank Ocean, and has made tracks with major acts like Ty Dolla $ign, YG, Chris Brown and Mac Miller. He also released Whip It, a full-length mixtape with I Love Makonnen (of “Tuesday” fame), and “Keep It 100,” a single with Grammy-nominated, chart-topping rapper Fetty Wap.

But that’s not all he’s been up to of late.

“I recorded a song with Diplo for Justin Bieber. It’s coming out real soon,” Rich says. “Me and Diplo are very cool.”

Hotlanta: Home of Innovative Hip-Hop

It doesn’t hurt that Rich the Kid hails from the hottest rap market in the country. Since the mid-2000s, Atlanta rappers have remade the genre with innovative takes on the art of hip-hop, from Gucci Mane’s mush-mouthed wordplay and Young Jeezy’s wheezing D-boy rhymes to Future’s android crooning and Migos’ infectious rowdiness.

Rich the Kid has an equally unique style, full of breathless chants and beat-accenting boasts. “Everybody came under Gucci Mane, so it’s a real ‘guwop’ type [sound in Atlanta],” he says in homage to the currently imprisoned rapper. “I just freestyle.”

He has also dived into the EDM that has overtaken dance clubs. Last year, he and NYC rappers Lil Uzi Vert and A$AP Ferg jumped on trap EDM king Carnage’s banger “WDYW” (“What Do You Want”), which garnered more than 10 million SoundCloud plays. He has also worked with Steve Aoki (“How Else”) and GTA (“My Mamacita”).

Locking the Streets Rather Than the Charts

Rich is signed to Quality Control, which also reps Migos and has a distribution deal with 300 Entertainment/WMG, home of Fetty Wap, the critically adored Young Thug, and others. Rich doesn’t know when he’ll release his “official” debut album. (“It’s going to be amazing,” he promises.) But these days, dropping the “big album” is hardly the point.

Instead, Rich the Kid is forcing us to pay attention to him with an avalanche of viral tracks like “Goin’ Crazy,” “Jumpin’ Like Jordan,” and over a dozen mixtapes. Besides, as the muted reception to Migos’ “official” debut Yung Rich Nation confirmed last year — though they’ve since recovered with the success of “Look at My Dab” — sometimes it’s better to have the streets on lock instead of aiming at the pop charts.

“I feel like the head of hip-hop is still Atlanta. But I don’t feel like a lot of people are going extra hard,” Rich says.

He’s aiming to prove the exception to the rule, though. “Last year was crazy,” he says. “I’m gonna work even harder this year.”