Doechii – 2022 XXL Freshman
- GOV'T NAME: Jayla Hickman
- AGE: 23
- REPPIN': Tampa, Fla.
- TWITTER: @iamdoechii
- INSTAGRAM: @doechii
- TIKTOK: @iamdoechii_
- NOTABLE RELEASES: Songs: “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake,” “Persuasive,” “Crazy”; Projects: Oh The Places You’ll Go, Coven Music Session, Vol. 1; Guest Appearances: Isaiah Rashad’s “Wat U Sed, David Guetta and Afrojack’s “Trampoline” with Missy Elliott and BIA”
- LABEL: Top Dawg Entertainment/Capitol
- CURRENTLY WORKING ON: As-yet-untitled album due later this year.
- WHO ELSE SHOULD BE PART OF THIS YEAR'S CLASS: “Monaleo. I find her being just a dope-ass person. I think she puts in the work and has the talent. I don’t even know why she’s not on here to be honest. I think she’s genuinely really fucking hard.”
- INFLUENCED BY: “Kanye West. Drake. Tyler, The Creator. Lil Wayne. Nicki Minaj. Lauryn Hill. Erykah Badu. Those are artists that have an equal balance of creativity and honesty. Throughout their whole careers, they keep growing. I feel like when an artist starts to feel old or washed up to the public, it’s when you can feel that they’re not growing and trying new things. They’re not challenging themselves. They’re not students anymore. Nicki is still a student. She’s still tapping into new flows. Tyler is still a student. Kanye is still a student. Drake is still a student. That’s why they’re the greatest.”
- AS A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL: “I was lame as fuck. I knew I wasn’t gonna be lame forever, but I was lame because I was scared to be me. I would act dumb and really childish and lame because I was trying to be somebody else. That’s very lame to me. And everybody can sense it. We all know that person who’s trying to be somebody they’re not and you’re like, ‘Nigga, you’re lame as fuck. Just be yourself.’
I went to a performing arts school. I was in chorus. I was taking music theory. [And that’s where I learned] how to compose music. I know how to actually write music. Not just lyrics. And I had a singing group that I was with in the ninth grade. I was like the leader of this group. I was writing our songs and shit like that for this gospel choir. So, I was really heavy in music.”
TRUTH ON BEING AN XXL FRESHMAN: “[I started realizing that Freshman was a big deal in] 2016, when I saw Kodak Black. He was a regular nigga out of my city and I saw him on XXL. I was like, no, not only is XXL serious, but he’s fucking serious. So, then I started paying attention really closely.
I’m bringing a musicality and creativity that hasn’t been touched in a while. Like a Tyler, The Creator flavor. An alternative flavor. I think that hip-hop has been one wave for a long time and I’m bringing a little alternative, awkward tea. Editorial tea. Soften it up a little bit.
[My fans are] going to really like [me being on the cover]. I think that they’re going to feel like it’s a win for them. And that’s kinda the reason why I do this. Because people want to feel like they won something.
I feel like that’s the reason why niggas be so into sports when they watch sports and their favorite team wins. They feel like they won. Same thing with rap. They’re gonna feel like they won and I want them to feel like that. I want them to see the cover and the a cappella freestyle. Everything is a stepping stone. Even negative shit. And this is a stepping stone.”
DOECHII'S 2022 XXL FRESHMAN FREESTYLE
It’s Doechii season, don’t you see it? With the motion that the Tampa, Fla. rapper has had over the last few years, there is no ducking this 2022 XXL Freshman. It's also open season for anyone in her path, which she proclaims in her Freshman freestyle.
The bars Doechii delivers in her 2022 XXL Freshman freestyle are a reflection of her creative flair. She dons a grey pantsuit and box braids, which she runs her fingers through as she starts rapping. Twisting her head around and upside down, she pump fakes in the beginning, then makes it clear that she actually doesn’t play. Rather, she calls shots like a coach on the sideline. "I'm, I'm, I’m courtside in the club like the Cavaliers/Stripper money here, busting out they bustiers/Bring that liquor here, owner bring that stripper here/Respect to all my sex workers and my stripper peers," she spits.
At the midway mark, Doechii intensifies her timbre and claps back at the haters who try to deny the fact that now is her time. Don't be fooled though, she takes pride in leaving them lifeless. "Doechii season, hoe, don’t you see it?/Top of the food chain and you open season/Bitches already dead, the strip club is just where I’m grieving/Purchased a bigger bed, for all of the bitches sleeping."
To end her freestyle, which clocks in at just over a minute, Doechii shouts out her record label and declares that the brand will always be in good hands, especially now that she's on the roster. As if she's looking the fans directly in their eyes, she raps, “First bitch that rap, TDE/Top, Moo and Punch, vouch for me/First day, label knew they hit the lottery/Now I’m the bitch you ever after, happily."
Rewinding back a few years ago, tracks like “Girls” and “Spookie Coochie” established Doechii as a top-tier talent when it comes to melodies, cadences and pitch inflections. She both sings and raps while dripping with personality. By the time her breakthrough track, “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake,” dropped in 2020, more fans got wind of her inimitable artistry. And with projects like Coven Music Session, Vol. 1 and Oh the Places You’ll Go—all with no skips—Doechii ascended to the point where she was selected as a member of this year’s Freshman class.
Along the way, she inked a deal with Top Dawg Entertainment and Capitol Records earlier this year. TDE is home to other former XXL Freshmen like Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and Isaiah Rashad, the latter with whom she collaborated with for last year’s aux cord gem "Wat U Sed." The rap guys, with the addition of SZA, all delivered beyond a doubt in their music, and that's what inspired Doechii to join the renowned imprint. “I had said a long time ago, ‘If I was to ever sign with any label, it's gonna be whatever label Kendrick and SZA are on.’ Because I really like all of their artists and what they stand for and I just like the way TDE operates,” she justifies in an exclusive interview with XXL.
"Persuasive" and "Crazy," her first two single releases under the TDE umbrella, both came out this year and speak to her ability to bend genres. The former is a celebratory dance anthem and the latter an intense effort on which she reclaims her power. While different in sound, the common denominator on those records is the God-level confidence she possesses throughout. “I think that's why they gravitate towards it,” she suggests of her supporters.
In terms of a full project, Doechii's major label debut is slated to arrive later this year. The 23-year-old artist hints that classic material is incoming: “I want that timeless effect. That feeling you got when you heard [Kendrick Lamar's] 'A.D.H.D,' that feeling that you felt when you heard [SZA's] CTRL. It has to just feel like a moment you don't ever want to leave.”
Watch Doechii's 2022 XXL Freshman freestyle, powered by Puma, below.
DOECHII, SOFAYGO, KAYCYY AND SAUCY SANTANA'S 2022 XXL FRESHMAN CYPHER
Tell the truth, this is what you’ve all been waiting for. Now, that the 2022 XXL Freshman Class is fully unsheathed, and the pleasantries of the Mean Comments, ABCs and individual freestyles are out of the way, it’s time to get the finals: the 2022 XXL Freshman Cyphers. The first group of rappers from the new class that are ready to show and prove in the rap circle is Tampa, Fla. native Doechii, Atlanta’s SoFaygo, KayCyy from Kenya and St. Paul, Minn., and Saucy Santana, who calls Bridgeport, Conn. and Perry, Fla. home.
It all starts with a fire track, and one of the hottest producers in the game has provided that this year. Platinum-selling producer Wheezy Outta Here, the man behind hits like Gunna and Future’s "Pushin P," Young Thug's "Hot" and YSL’s "Ski," supplied a bevy of fire tracks to choose from. The first group picked a banger with pulsing synths and deep bass as their palette.
Ladies first. Doechii, the self-proclaimed "Swamp Princess," proves she’s not to be played with. "Ooh shit, ooh nana/Tell ’em make room when a real bitch fly by," she spits. "If Doechii on the list than it's thicker than a Popeyes/Flick of the wrist will get you gone, bitch, bye bye/Made $1 million in a month like voila/Niggas switching gangs, bandanas looking tie-dye/In The Shade Room, but the shades ain’t Prada."
Next up, Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Records signee SoFaygo is operating in the flex zone for his cypher contribution. Taking his time, So slow-flows over the spacey soundscape. "Topic discussion, whoa/I do this shit just like it's nothing, whoa," he raps. "Come get that bitch that you cuffin', whoa/Ice on my wrist and it's bussin', whoa/Ice on my neck and it’s bussin'."
Minnesota’s KayCyy, by way of Kenya, is third up to the plate. Despite cosigns from Kanye West and Drake, the young rapper is still fighting for respect. He comes off the dome with a freestyle about his underdog status. "More money, more problems, that’s certainty/I came in the game and it’s urgent/I came in the game and it's promising (Yeah, let’s do it)," he delivers. "I don’t got time for the other shit/I don’t time for the nonsense/Yeah, I don’t got time for the drama shit."
Saucy Santana is dripping swag while batting cleanup. "I'm rockin' with Gucci, Emilio Pucci/Bitches my kids, baby mama coochie," he rhymes. "Go against me you must be stupid/When you rap, my ears is muted/Niggas is strapped, they zooted and booted/Looking for love and trying cupid."
Watch Doechii, SoFaygo, KayCyy and Saucy Santana's 2022 XXL Freshman cypher below.
—C. Vernon Coleman II