Calboy – 2020 XXL Freshman
- GOV'T NAME: Calvin Woods
- AGE: 21
- REPPIN': Chicago
- TWITTER: @147Calboy
- INSTAGRAM: @147Calboy
- NOTABLE RELEASES: Singles: “Envy Me,” “Chariot” featuring Meek Mill, Lil Durk and Young Thug, “Caroline” featuring Polo G; Mixtapes: Calboy, the Wildboy; EP: Wildboy; Long Live the Kings; Guest Appearances: Chance The Rapper’s “Get a Bag” and Pop Smoke’s “100k on a Coupe”
- LABEL: Polo Grounds Music/RCA
- WHO ELSE SHOULD BE PART OF THIS YEAR'S CLASS: “[King] Von,  Dugg [and] [Lil] Tecca...my shorty [The Kid] Laroi.”
- INFLUENCED BY: “Kendrick [Lamar], [J.] Cole, [G] Herbo, [Young] Thug. Old school shit. The stories behind the music, for real, gave me motivation. Where Herbo came from and seeing how far he done grew. Bone Thugs[-N-Harmony], old shit like that. I fuck with the harmonizing and all that. That shit just give me ideas and help me mold into the artist that I want to become.”
- AS A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL: “I was muthafuckin’ bad as hell. Wild as hell. Shit, broke as hell.”
TRUTH ON BEING AN XXL FRESHMAN: “[I knew I could be an XXL Freshman] when I dropped ‘Envy Me.’ [That’s] when I went viral the first time. I took over the whole year. I feel like I made it this far or to this point strictly off hard work. I’m very authentic and organic in my style. There’s only one me. I’m talented. Undeniably. Even if you hate me, you got to be like, ‘That boy cold.’ I’m not even saying that in a cocky way. I’m just a savage muthafuckin’ underdog in this bitch, you know what I’m saying? My shit undeniable. Muthafuckas going to turn that on and be like, ‘You can’t say that’s a bad song.’ It’s no possible way you can say that. That’s how I’m coming. That right there, that comes from muthafuckin’ Chicago dirt, nigga. From the struggle, the hunger, the pain...muthafuckas see that. [After ‘Envy Me’], I’m like, y’all are fixing to take this bitch over.
Since I was a shorty, [being picked as an XXL Freshman] has been my goal. I’m going to be on that list one day.I don’t give a fuck what them other muthafuckas feel on the outside looking in on this shit. ‘Man, this shit might help you.’ ‘All eyes are on you.’ I don’t look at it like that. It’s just a time and step in history for me because I used to grow up watching this shit every day. I was a shorty, I was watching the muthafuckin’ [XXL Freshman classes]. Watching that shit just give you a bunch of muthafuckin’ motivation.
Like everybody else says, when this shit comes out, the whole industry’s ass is on you. They look at you. They really watch you because of what the fuck XXL has built for themselves. Everybody is waiting on that next list to come out. So, I know what it’s going to do for me. I appreciate what it’s going to do for me. I’m multiplatinum and I’m gold right now. I want to just multiply that by 10.”—Peter A. Berry
CALBOY'S 2020 XXL FRESHMAN FREESTYLE
Over the course of nearly a minute, the 21-year-old rapping and singing talent declares his allegiance to his team as he spits about sacrifice and the possibility of betrayal. "And I know one thing, if it's for my dog I ain't thinkin' twice/And I know one thing, if it's in the dark, it's gon' come to light/And I know one thing, all my niggas' dogs that run through the night/Better know one thing, if you ever talk, we gon' take your life," raps Calboy, who's writing a sci-fi book and is an avid painter.
The "Wildboy" also shares the reality of life in Chiraq. "And I know some things, it's the way it go, it's the way of life/You know I been holdin' tight, you know I ain't foldin' right?/’Cause she say she love me, I know she lying/I'm from ’Raq where niggas be dying," he continues in a verse that ends with an icy warning: "He want me dead, I told him to try it."
Bars like these call to mind the songs that propelled Calboy to success in the first place. After dropping his mixtapes, The Chosen One and Anxiety, in 2017, Cal began making serious noise in the Windy City after he unloaded the song "Envy Me" in 2018. Fueled by ominous piano and some semi-strained singing, the track, which is currently three-times platinum certified, put Calboy on the road to stardom, a path he hasn't veered from since.
Calboy has continued building his momentum since first breaking out a couple years ago. In May of 2019, he unloaded his debut project, Wildboy, via Polo Grounds Music/RCA Records. The album has since been certified gold. Then, this past February, brought further attention to his brand with his Long Live the Kings EP, a project loaded with melody, ferociousness and spurts of dope boy dreams. He released the deluxe edition of the project back in July. The project includes six new songs and new features from G Herbo, Fivio Foreign and more.
After being named a 2020 XXL Freshman, Calboy is continuing to level up with new music, and it's only a matter of time before he reaches a new plateau for success.
Cal is one of 12 artists chosen to be an XXL Freshman in 2020. NLE Choppa calls home to Memphis while Polo G, like Calboy, reps Chicago. Lil Tjay and Fivio Foreign hold it down for New York, repping Bronx and Brooklyn, N.Y., respectively. Baby Keem rests his head in Las Vegas. Jack Harlow is a proud Louisville, Ky. native. Rod Wave hails from the bottom of the map in St. Petersburg, Fla. Down South gets love from Chika in Montgomery, Ala., and both Mulatto and Lil Keed are hot in the streets of Atlanta. San Francisco rapper 24kGoldn earned the most fan votes to land the title of the Freshman 10th spot winner.
Check out Calboy's 2020 XXL Freshman freestyle, powered by Rap Caviar, below.—P.A.B.
Calboy, keeps things laid-back and fun for his version of the ABCs, XXL's series that puts rappers on the spot to say the first word that comes to mind when they recite each of the 26 letters in the alphabet.
For his iteration, the 2020 XXL Freshman details his personality traits and more as he lets loose whatever crosses his mind when faced with a letter of the alphabet. For A, the 21-year-old artist says he's ambitious. When it comes to B, he references his racial background as a Black man. For C, the Chicago native shows some love to the Windy City.
"C, Chicago, the greatest city in the world," Calboy says proudly. By the time he gets to G, he points to his spirituality. "G, God first," he affirms. "Pray, you know what I'm saying? Take your ass to church."
Midway through, Calboy makes known one of the primary objects of his affection: "M, of course, money," he shares. "We all work for money, you feel me? Save your money, rack up your money. If you ain't got no money you ain't got no purpose here."
The lighthearted nature of Calboy's ABCs are a stark contrast from the menacing bars he lets loose on his breakout 2018 song "Envy Me" and songs from his Long Live the Kings project.
Calboy is just one of 12 artists who've been selected as a 2020 XXL Freshman. As is usually the case, this year's class comes from all over the map.
Check out all of Calboy's ABCs for yourself below.—P.A.B.
CALBOY, FIVIO FOREIGN, 24KGOLDN AND MULATTO'S 2020 XXL FRESHMAN CYPHER
When you’re putting on for the rap game, it’s imperative that you have representation from the most popular regions. In this year’s 2020 XXL Freshman cypher, the talent in all four musical goldmines is illustrated. Mulatto holds it down for Atlanta, 24kGoldn reps for the West Coast, Fivio Foreign walks with New York City’s drip by his side like a pocket and Calboy is grounded by his roots in Chicago.
Over a riveting string-led beat crafted by Grammy Award-nominated, South Carolina-bred producer Jetsonmade, who’s been racking up plaques like a set of molars that sat overnight, the group feeds off each other’s energy in each bar and showcases their unique rap styles that landed them on this year’s Freshman cover.
Following “baow” and “viral” ad-libs ringing from Fivio in the background, ATL's Mulatto is the ace who sets the pace. She kisses the beat and proceeds by putting it in a body bag, spitting about her ability to rap on the mic and to guys like her co-freshman Fivio.
“I don’t gotta rap about sex/But this shit way too good not to brag on/I ain’t even fuck a rap nigga yet, but if Fivio want to then I ain’t gon’ pass on ’em/Yeah, bitch, I get my mack on/He ain’t trickin’, I skip ’em like bad songs/I just dropped a hundred on jewelry during a pandemic, yeah, my money that long," she rhymes.
Next, the pivot is to the West for 24kGoldn’s turn. The San Francisco rapper and XXL Freshman 10th spot winner energetically drops in with the same sing-song flow that turned “Valentino” and the Iann Dior-featured “Mood” into Billboard chart-climbing songs and viral hits. In his vibrant-colored outfit and bell bottom jeans, he proclaims that he’s undeniable right now and makes note that everyone else in the cypher is, too.
“Got your girl TikTokin' to my shit/I see Fivi in the cut, Woo walkin' in this bitch/I see Cal gettin’ wild, see the style too legit/And Mulatto she a queen, put a crown on that head,” he delivers.
Brooklyn's own Fivio Foreign taps in after, hitting a slight side to side jig in his silk designer drip as he steadily finds his pocket. With the innate ability to make everything catchy, he looks over and acknowledges Mulatto’s earlier name-drop before vowing to keep his haters on high alert.
“I sit in the seat and I catch it if she throw it to me/They fallin' asleep, but I never let ’em fumble the dream/Yeah, and I’ll never let ’em humble the king/Look, that’s coming from me, I call up movers and they coming at three, glttt, baow,” he raps.
Lastly, we slide to Calboy, who with Polo G, joins the rich lineage of Chicago rappers that have made the XXL Freshman list. The platinum-selling rapper puts his head down and gets right to business, addressing the insomnia that comes with stacking money the long way. Even sleep-deprived, he reminds people that he’s awake enough to make that Nina sing if it must.
“I ain’t been getting no sleep ’cause nigga I’m trappin' a lot, aye/No, I’m not talkin’ ’bout Polo, but niggas be cappin’ a lot, aye/I gotta ride with that Nina ’cause niggas be yappin’ a lot, aye/I got some aim with that glizzy I’ll blow his lil cap off his top, for real” he serves.
As the entrancing beat rides out, Fivio Foreign confidently declares that no one is touching this class: “2020 Freshman, this the best one.”
Watch Mulatto, 24kGoldn, Fivio Foreign and Calboy’s 2020 XXL Freshman cypher below.—Kemet High
See the 2020 XXL Freshman Class