XXL has revealed its latest 2022 Freshman Class. The new list of up-and-coming musicians includes 12 artists in total: Cochise, Saucy Santana, Babyface Ray, KenTheMan, SoFaygo, Big Scarr, Big30, KayCyy, Doechii, Kali, Nardo Wick, and BabyTron, who won the fan-voted Freshman 10th spot. Find the cover below.
Palm Bay, Florida rapper Cochise signed to Columbia Records in 2020 following the success of his breakout single “Hatchback.” He scored another hit with his $not collaboration “Tell ‘Em” and various tracks from his 2021 debut album, Benbow Crescent. His new album The Inspection drops later this month.
After starting his career as a makeup artist for City Girls, Saucy Santana picked up the microphone in 2019 with “Walk ‘Em Like a Dog” and gained attention as a recurring guest on Love & Hip Hop: Miami. He’s had several viral songs on TikTok—“Walk,” “Here We Go,” and “Material Girl,” the former of which earned him a cosign from Nicki Minaj— and his debut studio album Keep It Playa was released in 2021.
Babyface Ray, from Detroit, recently released his third studio album, Face. It includes the single “Dancing With the Devil” featuring Pusha T and Landstrip Chip. Read about his signature rapping style with “Babyface Ray Perfects the Art of Luxury Rap” on the Pitch.
Houston rapper KenTheMan grew up singing in her high school’s choir, writing poetry, and taking part in girl groups before exploring a hip-hop career. Her debut studio album What’s My Name, featuring the singles “Rose Gold Stripper Pole” and “I’m Perfect,” came out in 2021.
SoFaygo, based in Atlanta, signed to Travis Scott’s label Cactus Jack Records in 2021 following the success of his third mixtape After Me and the singles “Off the Map” and “Everyday.” Today, he dropped a new EP titled B4Pink.
Memphis rapper Big Scarr is signed to Gucci Mane’s label 1017 Records. He’s best known for his mixtapes Big Grim Reaper and Big Grim Reaper: The Return, which include the hits “I Would Keep Goin” and “MJ” featuring Quezz Ruthless, respectively.
Big30, based in Memphis, had his first breakout moment after hopping on the 2021 single “Neighbors” by Pooh Shiesty, his childhood friend. His debut mixtape King of Killbranch came out that same year and includes the single “Backseat of the Rolls Truck” as well as collaborations with Future, Lil Durk, Quavo, Yo Gotti, and Offset, among others.
Born in Kenya and raised in Minnesota, KayCyy is best known for his collaborations with Kanye West, Gesaffelstein, and Lil Wayne. This year, he won a Grammy Award for Best Melodic Rap Performance for contributing backing vocals to West’s single “Hurricane” and was nominated for Album of the Year thanks to his work on Donda. KayCyy’s new studio album Who Is KayCyy? is due out later this year.
Tampa rapper Doechii dropped two massive singles earlier this year, “Crazy” and “Persuasive,” after becoming the first female rapper signed to Top Dawg Entertainment. Back in 2020, she released her record Oh the Places You’ll Go and experienced TikTok fame thanks to its single “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake.”
Kali, from Georgia, broke out at the end of 2020 with her single “Do a Bitch” and followed it up with “MMM MMM.” She released her new EP Toxic Chocolate back in March.
Jacksonville, Florida native Nardo Wick, who’s signed to Flawless Entertainment and RCA Records, dropped his debut album Who Is Nardo Wick? in 2021. In the past few months, he’s also linked up with artists like Future and Lil Baby on “Me or Sum” and 21 Savage, Lil Durk, and G Herbo for a remix of “Who Want Smoke??”
Based in Detroit, BabyTron first gained attention in 2019 with “Cheat Code” and the pop-culture laden rhymes of his debut solo mixtape Bin Reaper. This year, he returned with his new album MegaTron and a trio of singles: “King of the Galaxy,” “Emperor of the Universe,” and “Prince of the Mitten.” Read about “Half-Blood Prince” on Pitchfork’s list “The 38 Best Rap Songs of 2021.”
Last year’s XXL Freshman Class featured Flo Milli, Coi Leray, Pooh Shiesty, and 42 Dugg. Revisit Alphonse Pierre’s “The 2020 XXL Freshman Freestyles, Ranked From Worst to Best.”