2022 XXL Cypher—Learn About This Year’s Freshman Class
Image via Uproxx
With the evolution of hip hop and rap music comes the next generation of artists who seek to redefine these genres. XXL’s 2022 Freshman Class undoubtedly shows just that. The list of artists was released on June 14, and today, their individual freestyles are being posted.
2022 Freshman Highlight: Cochise
The Palm Bay native prides himself on his eclectic sound and Jamaican influence. Cochise makes “timeless music” and raps about what he’s interested in, like anime and Disney Channel shows. His commitment to radical authenticity makes him a standout artist, and it’s already earned him some accolades.
Arguably one of his most popular releases, “Tell Em,” put him on the map. The song featured fellow up and coming rapper, $not. In September of 2021, the song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. It also earned him his first spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts.
His influences include Tyler, the Creator, Bob Marley, and Busta Rhymes. Other notable releases include “Hatchback,” “Knicks,” and “Pocket Rocket.”
2022 Freshman Highlight: Saucy Santana
Mold-breaking style icon, Saucy Santana is single handedly dismantling what the path to stardom looks like and sounds like. Santana is a queer, Black, femme, plus-sized performer who rose to fame with the viral TikTok hit, “Material Girl.” The artist admits his rise to fame was an accident as the song was originally made as a theme song for his podcast.
Since then, Santana has collaborated with the biggest names in the industry. Just last week, he performed with Madonna for NYC Pride at Terminal 5. Past XXL Freshman Classes have never seen anyone like Santana, but he certainly won’t be the last.
2022 Freshman Highlight: Doechii
Santana’s fellow LGBTQ representative on the list, Doechii, first came to the scene in 2020. Her rise to fame was much like Santana’s in that the TikTok algorithm was responsible for the popularity of her song, “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake.” The viral portion of the song introduced Doechii to her prospective fans: “Hi, my name’s Doechii with two i’s / I feel anxious when I’m high (Huh.)” The song led her to sign with Top Dawg Entertainment. Other notable artists signed to the label include Kendrick Lamar and SZA.
Florida’s crowned “Swamp Princess” is heavily influenced by rap icon Nicki Minaj. Doechii often gushes about her love for the rapper, and Nicki’s impact is audibly evident in her work. Doechii’s other influences include Tyler the Creator, Kanye West, and SZA.
2022 Freshman Highlight: KayCyy
Kenyan-born rapper KayCyy rounds out our highlights list for his unique approach to his XXL freestyle. So far, KayCyy’s freestyle is the most unique. The artist included a small choir in his performance, creating a sonically angelic vibe reminiscent of something Kanye West might produce.
The Ye influence is not unfounded as KayCyy was heavily involved in the production of Donda. Although KayCyy was ultimately booted off of the record, he still earned production and lyric credits in the final cut. KayCyy’s manager, Bu, recalled that Ye “literally fell in love” with the artist and took him under his wing. With an endorsement from an artist as legendary as Ye, there’s no doubt that KayCyy will make waves in the rap scene in the years to come.