Chika – 2020 XXL Freshman
- GOV'T NAME: Jane Chika Oranika
- AGE: 23
- REPPIN': Montgomery, Ala.
- TWITTER: @oranicuhh
- INSTAGRAM: @chikalogy
- NOTABLE RELEASES: Singles: “Songs About You,” "Industry Games," “Can’t Explain It” featuring Charlie Wilson; EP: Industry Games; Guest Appearances: JoJo’s “Sabotage,” Sage’s “Safe” featuring Kesha
- LABEL: Warner Music
- WHO ELSE SHOULD BE PART OF THIS YEAR'S CLASS: “Flo Milli ’cause I love seeing another woman from Alabama rapping her ass off and consistently applying pressure. I’m down to support her, always. D Smoke, reason being he’s a voice that we need and he’s super genuine. He spits like no one else.”
- INFLUENCED BY: “Wale, Mac Miller, J. Cole...to an extent, Lauryn Hill. She’s the closest thing to doing what I do… Wale is probably the biggest influence in terms of my young adulthood, becoming who I was. I literally for years was only listening to Wale. Because the way that he writes, it’s very, it’s narrative. And I’m a poet.I like literature, I like spoken word, things like that. And he’s very much so rooted in the same thing. We’re the same person, it’s disgusting. In terms of music, I can say one of my favorite people is Wale.”
- AS A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL: “I was really adventurous and boisterous, and I was never afraid of using my voice in any way. And so, chaos ensued... when it came to talking to upperclassmen, I was never fearful of expressing my opinions. So, in class, yeah, I definitely did do that, but I think my chaos more so came in the fact that I’ve never been afraid of people older than me, you know what I mean? I’ve never been intimidated by that. So, I was always popping off at the mouth and saying what I believe in because fuck anyone else. Honestly, I don’t care.”
TRUTH ON BEING AN XXL FRESHMAN: “Last year, I was literally integrating myself into the full artist lifestyle. And so, for me, had you asked me last year, ‘Are you going to be Freshman?’ I’d probably be like, ‘Yeah, no, for sure.’ And it didn’t happen. I wasn’t disappointed, but I was just like, Oh, OK.[This year], my management and publicist just called me and they were really secret about what was going on. I wouldn’t say [I was] surprised, but also at the same time, I had no expectations. I knew that I’d pitched and I had hoped that I would be a Freshman. I didn’t remember that I basically was waiting on this news. So, when they were saying, ‘We have a surprise for you,’ it didn’t pop up the way that you’d think it would. If this year wasn’t what it was, I’m sure [the news of me being an XXL Freshman] would have been me being like, ‘Hey, turn up! We going out to drink!’ But I’m at the house, I’m in the kitchen eating lasagna [when I learned I was a Freshman]. I think I was more nervous because life has been crazy for everybody. Especially around the time I got the news. I was still out there protesting and trying to handle a lot of other things. With 2020, my brain is completely sectioned off from being an artist. My brain wasn’t in artist mode, it was in activism. And so, having to go back for a second, just remember, artist Chika, you have something to prove, you have a voice to use.
[Being named a Freshman] made me a little anxious, but not in a bad way, just in like an, Oh fuck, this is real. This is a real moment in my career. I need to be able to do the best that I can with it. [My goal] is to take over the world and [exceed] every expectation of me, including the ones I have for myself. I want to sell well, of course. That’s the starting point for everybody because it’s my job. However, I want to be able to branch out from just doing music and just... even, you’ve seen over the years that we went from freestyles, to songs, to a project. I want to continue to progress and do more, and produce other content and help other artists. I want to just become a fully-faceted artist and individual, so that I’m able to provide a good baseline for other people who do this to do something.”—Peter A. Berry
CHIKA'S 2020 XXL FRESHMAN FREESTYLE
If you've ever had the urge to approach a baddie, you'll know exactly where 2020 XXL Freshman Chika is coming from in her new freestyle. In the verse, she flaunts a nimble flow, elastic rhyming and conversational detail as she takes you through her racing thoughts as she contemplates making her move.
"Do you think that she'd be looking for a lady or a fella?/Judging by the twinkle in her eye got me thinking she'd be down for whatever/I done been around, but I never/Seen a beauty like hers," she raps in the lighthearted freestyle.
The Alabama rapper, who's signed to Warner Records, also points out the physical attributes that have her stuck. "Them curves make a nigga get to stuttering and tripping off words/No sleeping, nigga, sheep been flocking to her like herds," Chika raps at another point in the a cappella verse, which ends with her concluding that the lady in question is "mugging" so it's best to leave her alone and plot for the future.
In just about eight bars, Chika investigates the sexuality of the mystery baddie, sifts through her network of homie intel and her own amazement before using her sharp perceptual lens to determine that now's not the time to try to bag. Her rhymes are funny, relatable and exact. The freestyle showcases a level of detail, conversational fluidity and humor that typically paints her songs and it serves as further proof that she's playing no games in 2020 and beyond.
Hailing from Montgomery, Ala., the 23-year-old rapper began making waves in the rap world after she uploaded a freestyle criticizing Kanye West's support of President Trump two years ago. She spit the bars over Yeezy's "Jesus Walks" instrumental. The video has been retweeted on Twitter over 130,000 times and it served as a breakout moment that led to her blooming rap career.
After building her buzz on social media and releasing songs and videos from time to time, the rapper unloaded her debut rap project, Industry Games, this past March. Featuring introspective bars, gospel choir-infused tunes and soulful melodies, the project is a concise look at why Chika is next up. Next is now.
Chika is one of 12 rappers selected for the 2020 XXL Freshman Class. NLE Choppa reps Memphis while Polo G and Calboy put on for Chicago. Lil Tjay and Fivio Foreign hold it down for New York City. Baby Keem rests his head in Las Vegas. Jack Harlow is a Louisville, Ky. native. Rod Wave hails from the bottom of the map in St. Petersburg, Fla. 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.
You can see Chika flex her rap skills in her 2020 XXL Freshman freestyle below.
It doesn't take long for you to realize that 2020 XXL Freshman Chika is whip-smart and has a witty comment for just about everything. Those qualities ring through loud and clear for the latest edition of XXL's ABCs, a series in which artists say the first thing that comes to their mind for every letter in the alphabet.
For her ABCs, Chika mostly keeps the focus on herself. For A, she chooses Alabama because it's her home state. When B pops up, the rapper opts for the word boisterous because of her bubbly personality. By the time the letter O comes up, Chika lets loose an interesting story about how she ended up having to change her name on social media.
"My last name is Oranika," she begins. "If you ever had followed me from back in the day, back in 2015, up until last year, 2019, my name on social media was 'oranicuhh' spelled phonetically, so people didn't know how to say it. I got shouted out by Cardi B and she could not pronounce it. No one knew who she was talking about. And that was the moment that my label said, 'Change it, now.' And I did." See the funny Cardi B moment here.
Known for tight rhyme schemes, aspirational bars and introspection, Chika is a rising rapper who's generated a lot of momentum over the last year. After gaining a sizable buzz in 2019 by dropping a freestyle that was critical of Kanye West's President Trump support—she used Yeezy's "Jesus Walks" instrumental for good measure—Chika dropped off her debut project, Industry Games, this past March. Now, she's looking to continue leveling up.
Peep Chika's ABCs for yourself below.
CHIKA, NLE CHOPPA, ROD WAVE AND LIL TJAY'S 2020 XXL FRESHMAN CYPHER
The time has finally come. XXL's coveted Freshman cyphers have arrived, and with this particular group from the 2020 XXL Freshman Class, it's a meeting of the bars from the South (Memphis, St. Petersburg, Fla. and Montgomery, Ala.) all the way up North to the Bronx, N.Y. And while gimmicks and stunts have managed to keep vise grip on the rap game in recent years, rapping off the top of the dome is still an essential aspect in hip-hop. NLE Choppa, Rod Wave, Chika and Lil Tjay are a foursome that have proven this to be a pure fact—no cap.
This year, the coronavirus pandemic forced a number of unforeseeable adjustments onto the rap game, but the lyrical content delivered by these four rappers during the cypher was unaffected. Grammy Award-nominated, South Carolina producer Jetsonmade produced the piano-driven beat that each of these Freshmen slide over.
Seventeen-year-old Memphis native NLE Choppa is first up to bat on the beat. Holding the mic close to his mouth, Choppa leaves no room for his words to be misconstrued.
"Grew up around the killing and all the dealing and all the drilling/I just be putting my heart in all of my songs," he spits while taking minimal breaths in between his bars. "I make sure y'all niggas feel it/The nigga, he ratted, we cutting his tongue/Look like paintballs when we hit ’em/Lord forgive me, I'm a sinner and a winner/Rockin’ chinchilla eating at dinner/Know where we lay and we know where we stay/Wet the whole house up, if you play/Fuck that ho shit/Talk what I said/I don't need no mouse hole in my face."
Next, Rod Wave switches up the flow. It's soothing, yet captivating as he casually offers a melodic spin on his rhymes. He uses his smooth delivery to tell how he's risen above his childhood hardships.
"’Member I was broke, I ain't have nothin’/Kicked out of the house, livin' with my cousin/Bank account, car stop runnin'/Problems kept comin', mama kept prayin'/Prayin' God got her baby, it's crazy/One apartment, fo’ niggas/Air mattress got a hole in it," he recounts. "I remember, nigga/All them cold Decembers, nigga/I can't believe that I'm finally winning, nigga," Rod adds.
Chika is accompanied by a special guest, her dog Vision, throughout the cypher. Spitting in a softer, more tranquil tone than her counterparts, the Alabama native raps about her come up and advises listeners not to count her out—all while her dog rests on her chest the entire time. It's endearing, to say the least.
"Do I have a story to tell about glory?/A nigga defeatin’ the odds/Got used to a budget, but now I say, 'Fuck it' in stores," she spits. "I don't care what it costs/I gotta admit it, I never envisioned a life where I wasn't the boss/I think of my ex and the level of stress/He be feeling a hell of a loss/I'm in no position to floss/I'm in no position to plead/I knew I was runnin’ the course, but dammit I'm taking the lead/I'm comin’ from sweeping the floors/To rollin’ a blunt with a lease/When they put my name on the board/Make sure its in permanent ink."
And lastly, Lil Tjay hones in on his mid-tempo cadence while dripped out in a black-and-red Louis Vuitton matching two-piece set to close out the cypher. He, too, tells his story of overcoming adversity in the Bronx hood where he's from.
"Yeah, a nigga really made it out the hood/I got through them rainy days/I still got some real niggas in the cell/They sent the whole gang away/Guess I'm a real nigga from the start/I guess I was trained this way, trained this way/The Audemars, I got a Rolls/Finna cop out on a Rolls/I done seen so much, so, so much shit, should pay a toll/So I be smokin’ all the dope/It kinda help my demons show," he croons.
Watch NLE Choppa, Rod Wave, Chika and Lil Tjay's 2020 XXL Freshman cypher below.—Aleia Woods
See the 2020 XXL Freshman Class