Nardo Wick is the new kid on the block. Short on words, the 20-year-old Jacksonville, Fla. native lets his monotone and matter-of-fact delivery of visceral street raps do most of the talking. The Wickman brings the same energy to his 2022 XXL Freshman freestyle.

This moment is one that Nardo Wick has thought about since seeing the now cult classic 2016 Freshman cyphers, which featured Kodak Black, 21 Savage, Lil Uzi Vert, G Herbo, Lil Yachty and others. Nardo was a literal freshman in high school at the time. “I used to be thinking what I would say in the freestyle, how I’d freestyle, shit like that,” Nardo recalls in an exclusive interview with XXL. “’I would have liked that beat if I was on there.’ Shit like that.”

As the youngest member of the 2022 XXL Freshman Class, Nardo is still fighting for respect to be put on his name by those who believe his acclaim was gained without years of hard work and merit. He acknowledges his meteoric rise to fame during his a cappella 2022 XXL Freshman freestyle.

“I need a hat that say,' Rated'/I ain’t rush this, I waited/I blew up they hated/Play with me, your life I take it,” he frankly rhymes with stacks of money hanging out of his ripped, skinny jeans pockets. “I need a hat that say, 'Rated,' ’cause I’m underrated/I was in debt with attention, I had to pay it/I love my Amiri jeans, they keep me saturated/And I love my 7.62s, they keep me well-protected.”

While many artists toil in the rap industry for years before being able to land an official hit song, Nardo Wick punched his ticket to success early. He was fresh out of high school with no real rap experience when he released his debut track, “Face Shot,” in 2020. A few songs into his fledgling rap career later and he crafted the golden ticket, putting out his ubiquitous Emkay-produced single “Who Want Smoke?” in January of 2021. His growing popularity led to Nardo landing a deal with former LEP Bogus Boys member Frank “Moonie” Criddell’s Flawless Entertainment then RCA Records. A remix of the song, which peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, called “Who Want Smoke??” featuring 21 Savage, Lil Durk and G Herbo, followed last October and has since gone platinum.

Last December, the soft-spoken rapper attempted to answer all outstanding queries on the debut album Who Is Nardo Wick?, an impressive first outing that shows his skilled ear for beat selection and ability to pen catchy trap anthems while also holding his own alongside rap heavyweights Lil Baby and Future. Part two of the album is due out this summer. Yes, Nardo Wick blew up fast. But where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Check out Nardo Wick’s 2022 XXL Freshman Freestyle, powered by Puma, below.

Read the 2022 XXL Freshman cover story featuring BabyTronCochiseSaucy SantanaBabyface RayKenTheManSoFaygoBig ScarrBig30KayCyyDoechiiKali and Nardo Wick when the Freshman issue hits newsstands everywhere on July 13. The issue includes additional interviews with Lupe FiascoKevin GatesPi’erre BourneNLE ChoppaYvngxchris, producer DJ Dahi, engineer Teezio and singer Chlöe, plus a breakdown of every Freshman Class from a numbers standpoint, a look back at what the 2021 XXL Freshman Class is doing, the story of why the 2016 XXL Freshman Class gets so much respect now, a deep dive into the world of NFTs through hip-hop’s lens and exploring rappers’ most valuable collections. You can also buy the 2022 XXL Freshman Class issue here.

See Every Artist in the 2022 XXL Freshman Class

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