KenTheMan – 2022 XXL Freshman
- GOV'T NAME: Kentavia Miller
- AGE: 28
- REPPIN': Houston
- TWITTER: @imkentheman
- INSTAGRAM: @imkentheman
- TIKTOK: @kenthe304
- NOTABLE RELEASES: Songs: “He Be Like,” “For Me” with Chase B and OMB Bloodbath,” “Rose Gold Stripper Pole,” “Rose Gold Stripper Pole (Remix)” featuring 2 Chainz; Mixtapes: 4 da 304’s, What’s My Name; Guest Appearances: Kali’s “Ain’t FWM,” Erica Banks’ “Hol’on”
- LABEL: Asylum Records
- CURRENTLY WORKING ON: As-yet-untitled debut album due this summer.
- WHO ELSE SHOULD BE PART OF THIS YEAR'S CLASS: “It’s a lot of girls popping shit. It’s always men, but I really thought it was gonna be female-heavy. I thought it was gonna be like Lady London. I knew Nardo Wick. And I knew Babyface [Ray]. I was sold on them. ’Cause [Ray] had a great, great couple of years. I thought EST Gee was gonna be on here. My bitch [Kali] on here. I don’t give a fuck about nobody. Kali on this muthafucka. That’s all I care about.”
- INFLUENCED BY: “My favorite artist is definitely Lil Wayne. I just feel like listening to him, he keep me on my toes of what’s the standard of being the greatest, you know what I’m saying? My biggest inspiration is Lil Wayne. Nick Minaj, for sure. Because it’s like for somebody to be in the game for that long and still have great verses and great bars and great wit, you don’t see that. And also, Drake. He made conscious rap work without it sounding conscious. It’s not boring. It’s basically Young Money, but I really like Lil Baby, too like his come up and I love his lyricism and I love how hard he works.”
- AS A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL: “Bad as hell. I definitely fell in the class clown category. I didn’t be mean to the teachers. They just let me be me. I did like English. I hated math. Only math I do is money math. I would say English was one of my strongest subjects ’cause I was just really into it and it was easy, too. I really loved social studies, oddly. I just liked my teacher. He was amazing. My history teacher, Mr. Brooks. I would never forget him. That’s how you know somebody leave a mark.”
KENTHEMAN'S 2022 XXL FRESHMAN FREESTYLE
KenTheMan is a self-proclaimed "rap best friend." She makes the kind of confidence-boosting music that puts bad days on ice. Reclaiming the superpower within seems a lot more attainable with her assured rhymes as the soundtrack. The Houston rapper, who earned a rightful place on the 2022 XXL Freshman cover this year, brings those emboldened bars to her Freshman freestyle.
The 28-year-old hip-hop maven assesses what’s out there and clearly sees no competition when delivering her brief onslaught. Plus, packing in an amusing punchline with clever wordplay is typical for KenTheMan. "OK, I'm back in this bitch, and bitches actin' like they ain't hearin' me/Every time I'm out I gotta walk with my security/I’m a walkin' million, I ain't gotta wear no jewelry/And yeah, they been droppin', but I'm bored like a charcuterie," she rhymes.
Her hands talk just as much as the words she's spitting. It's all part of Ken's cocktail: a mix of attitude, allure and ardor. In this freestyle, she's feeling the heat on her rise to the top. "Man, my work been sellin', heard you hoes still in the trap," Ken delivers. "And I’m next to blow, like fire at a Texaco/Bitches say it smoke, but when they see me, it's that Reginald/Haters don't hate until you get put on a pedestal/And stop hangin' with my opps, bitch/Go be more original/Fuck they talkin' ’bout."
Nearly 10 years ago, people had just begun talking about the playful MC, born Kentavia Miller. In 2013, she started dropping freestyles over buzzworthy beats via social media. Rhyming on popular tracks from respected rappers earned her enough of a solid reception to give her the energy to move forward. By 2015, she released Kenny’s Back, her first mixtape full of freestyles on Drake and Future’s "Jumpman," and G Herbo’s "Chiraq," among others. Sharp songwriting, racy lyrics and a southern-dipped delivery permeated her bars. Living up to her moniker, she was known for going harder than dudes.
"I have very, very confident music and I feel like what makes me different is not only my sound, but my journey and how I got here," she tells XXL during the Freshman shoot this past May. "I feel like that is what sets me apart. I'm very diverse. There's so many sides to me that nobody's ever even seen and y'all be seeing it [soon]."
By 2017, her track "Deserve" introduced her to a larger audience. Then "He Be Like" took her to a new level. The 2019 breakthrough effort, which finds her boasting about being a man’s favorite recipe, started gaining further traction through social media two years later. "He Be Like" reached the top 15 of the Billboard Top Triller U.S. chart the summer of 2021.
Her projects 4 Da 304's in 2020, and What’s My Name last year further added to her acclaim. "Rose Gold Stripper Pole," from the latter EP, even cemented a 2 Chainz remix. Cosigns from Tity Boi and Snoop Dogg were also in her court. Asylum Records took notice of Ken's momentum on her own and inked a partnership deal with her in 2021. This first-half of 2022 has also been busy for the Down South lyricist. She unleashed the two-pack of tracks "Feelin’ Sexy" and "Join Em." In June, shortly before the Freshman cover reveal, she released her provocative new single, "No Panties On." Now, the rap game's new "it" girl is currently working on her debut album.
"I will be working on my album and I don't wanna do a traditional album," Ken shares. "That's what I've been battling with. Do I wanna make it not traditional in the sense of like, someone else, but you know, traditional is like, it's a certain vibe you feel when you hear somebody album, it's so serious. Oh, this is like, I didn't want the real seriousness in my album. I wanted it to still be fun and confident. So yeah, I'm working on that and I haven't solidified a title yet. I plan for it to drop not end of summer, but like right in the midst of summer. I got some singles coming out on that ass."
Prepare for the takeover.
Experience KenTheMan’s talent in her 2022 XXL Freshman freestyle, powered by Puma, below.
KENTHEMAN'S XXL ABCs
KENTHEMAN'S 2022 XXL FRESHMAN CYPHER
The 2022 XXL Freshman Class is here. You’ve seen their ABCs, listened to them respond to trolls for the Mean Comments segment and heard them spit in their individual freestyles. Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the 2022 XXL Freshman cyphers. Jacksonville, Fla. native Nardo Wick, Memphis' Big Scarr and Big30, and KenTheMan, who hails from Houston, grab the mic to showcase the skills that got them inducted into the class in the first place.
This year, Mississippi native Wheezy Outta Here provides the soundtrack that all four Freshman slide on. Wheezy has been on the fast track to production superstardom lately as the man behind the boards on trap-style anthems like Lil Baby and Drake’s "Yes Indeed," Young Thug and Gunna’s "Hot," YSL’s "Ski" and more. The Freshman quartet deliver Southern-fried bars over the "Pushin P" producer’s bass-heavy, hi-hat-laced score.
This year’s youngest Freshman Nardo Wick bombs first, igniting his freestyle with the explosive bars, "Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang/Big brother always tryna touch a nigga brain," the soft-spoken 20-year-old artist raps. "Leave him neckless, he try reachin' for my chain/Izzy always tryna hit a fuckin' stain/Brush my teeth with Scope, but promise I got Aim." From there, Nardo speeds things up a bit, showing impressive versatility.
Sliding in behind Nardo, Big30 brings big energy to the cypher. He doesn’t let off the gas in his lengthy rap, which stays true to character in pushing the rapper’s gangsta persona. "50 racks on me right now and this Dior is made of silk/Nigga spin my block incorrect than somebody gettin' killed," 30 spits. "My young nigga 15 with four bodies, can’t even buy a fifth/He ain't even old enough to vote, that lil boy bangin' Crip," he adds, later shouting out incarcerated fellow Memphis rhymer and 2021 XXL Freshman Pooh Shiesty.
1017's Big Scarr delivers what might be the shortest cypher verse in Freshman history, with his mic drop moment in the cypher clocking in at less than 10 bars. "I'm in the eggshell coupe, this bitch here a hatchback/I don’t do the basic bitches, Hemi here a Scat Pack/I don’t do no talkin', roll a nigga in the outback/I’m with your main bitch, we eatin' steak, chillin' at Outback," Scarr rhymes. In and out.
KenTheMan is the show closer. Putting on for H-Town, TheMan is small in stature, but big on bars. She slips in and out of flows over the menacing track with ease. "ATL, hopped off a plane and hit the stage with Kali/I'ma P, I got some hoes that's ducked off in the valley/Ask about me, I been 100, my card super valid/I drop a ho, I get another one like DJ Khaled."
Man, oh, man. It's up.
Watch Nardo Wick, Big Scarr, Big30 and KenTheMan's 2022 XXL Freshman Cypher
—C. Vernon Coleman II