- GOV'T NAME: Coi Leray Collins
- AGE: 24
- REPPIN': North Jersey and Boston
- TWITTER: @coi_leray
- INSTAGRAM: @coileray
- TIKTOK: @coileray
- NOTABLE RELEASES: Singles: “Huddy,” “Better Days” featuring Fetty Wap, “Slide” featuring Gunna, “No More Parties,” “No More Parties (Remix)” featuring Lil Durk, “Big Purr (Prrdd)” featuring Pooh Shiesty; Mixtapes: Everythingcoz, EC2; Project: Now or Never; Guest Appearances: Wifisfuneral’s “Lost in Time,” DDG and OG Parker’s “Impatient,” Pressa’s “Attachments”
- LABEL: Republic Records
- CURRENTLY WORKING ON: Debut album, COI, due out this summer.
- WHO ELSE SHOULD BE PART OF THIS YEAR'S CLASS: “I feel like [the class] is actually dope itself. Fire. There’s more women this year. Hell yeah. I feel like with the women it’s important because we put in a lot of work. We’ve applied a lot of pressure. It just feels good to just come badder and just come together.”
- INFLUENCED BY: “I’m inspired by Drake just ’cause of the versatility. I’m very versatile; I like to play with my melodies and shit like that. Beyoncé because when it comes to her stage presence, like, of course, she’s amazing when it comes to the booth, but her stage presence and how she is on stage. You know who else inspires me? Rihanna. Let me tell you why Rihanna. If you look at her tapes and her albums from on a timeline aspect and base off what she went through, you can just see it all in the music. And I love it and respect it.”
- AS A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL: “I didn’t like school. I’m going to be honest. I didn’t fail. I was good in math. I was good in English and stuff like that, but I didn’t do well on tests because I didn’t study. However, I just needed to work. I dropped out early because I was in sales. At that time, when I found a job that was really good pay, I couldn’t do hours in school the same hours of work. Beginning in 10th grade, I dropped out.
I got into so many fights. I was fucking suspended. I was a bad-ass kid. I smoked weed, I did all of the bad things and everything. However, I was a star. I was a star and the teachers still loved me and accepted me for who I am.”
And besides what I have been dropping, I’ve been hopping on remixes like Pressa’s ‘Attachments,’ from Canada, which is going crazy; DDG's 'Impatient,' which we just dropped a video, which is going crazy. There are so many more people that I have been working with and just everything that I’ve been doing. I knew it was going to happen. I was destined to greatness. It was only a matter of time. Timing is everything.
It took a lot, throughout the trials and tribulations to get here. It’s a lot of fucking blood, sweat and tears, I can tell you that much. God is good. It’s a blessing to be here and without my team, I wouldn’t be able to be here. It takes a really strong team to really build a brand. I’m more than an artist, I’m a brand.
It’s important to be a Freshman because, at the end of the day, it’s like an appreciation stamp, it’s like a trophy. You want people to acknowledge the hard work you’ve done. And I feel like XXL with the cover and just the cypher, I feel like that plays a big part. So, to be a part of that, it’s a blessing.
I feel like I’m special. I feel like all the women that’s on [the cover] work hard. At the end of the day, the fact we are all female and we are all bad as fuck, like, the cover is going to be fire.”—Georgette Cline
Coi Leray knew she was destined for greatness. The last few months of 2021 have solidified that train of thought. The North Jersey and Boston-bred artist, who dips in both her rapping and singing bag, secured her first platinum-selling track with "No More Parties" this year. Though the song finds Coi moving away from party life, she's still out here celebrating the many wins she keeps accumulating, including being a 2021 XXL Freshman. The top honor, which she dubs "an appreciation stamp," had to go to Coi for continuing to elevate in her career. She's come a long way from riding in the big drop on 2018's "Huddy."
“When I first got the call, I already knew I was going to be a Freshman," the Republic Records signee affirms. "I put in the work, for real, for real. I went platinum in less than three months, my numbers are crazy. We got over  million views on YouTube alone, which is to the 'No More Parties’ video."
While she was included as an artist in the running for the past two Freshman classes, the 24-year-old self-described "big trendsetter" believes now is the time. "And besides what I have been dropping, I’ve been hopping on remixes like Pressa’s 'Attachments,’ from Canada, which is going crazy; DDG’s’ “Impatient,’ which we just dropped a video, which is going crazy," says Coi, whose debut album, COI, arrives this summer. "There are so many more people that I have been working with and just everything that I’ve been doing. I knew it was going to happen. I was destined to greatness. It was only a matter of time. Timing is everything, you know?" She's got verifiable proof of success on hip-hop's clock.
To date, Coi's dropped the projects Everythingcoz in 2018, EC2 in 2019, and Now or Never in 2020. "No More Parties" has locked in a peak position of No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 while "Big Purr (Prrdd)" featuring Pooh Shiesty came in at No. 69 on the same chart. She's also been a go-to collaborator for the likes of DDG with "Impatient," Pressa with "Attachments," Earthgang's "Options (Remix)" and Enchanting's "Freaky Deaky." Aside from the music, the spirited entertainer keeps her fans engaged across social media, where she tends to become a trending topic for everything from her music to her petite frame.
Coi knows better than anyone that the road to this level of fame comes with its fair share of headaches. "It took a lot, throughout the trials and tribulations to just get here," she admits. "It’s a lot of fucking blood, sweat and tears I can tell you that much. God is good. It’s a blessing to be here and without my team, I wouldn’t even be able to be here. It takes a really strong team to really build a brand. I’m more than an artist, I’m a brand." One she hope will be everlasting.
She's one of four women on the XXL Freshman cover this year along with Flo Milli, Rubi Rose and Lakeyah. Coi's vitality and dynamic energy shines on every song and video she's released so far. She brings these qualities, along with plenty of melody, to her Freshman freestyle.
The rising star keeps it real about her trust issues, family and pain in her lyrics. "I'm not poppin' out ’til I got a couple Ms sittin' right in my bank account/And my family dependin' on me, I'm the one that's gon' make it out/I'm so paranoid, I think everybody gonna snake me out/I think everybody out to get me now/So that's why I'm geeked up off this Henny now/Yeah, I'm numbin' the pain, I don't feel it now/And I got ’em so mad ’cause I'm winnin' now/Yeah, the glock on my waist I might air it out/Fit it right in my purse, I don't wear it out/Make sure the bag matchin' my shoes, they Maison Margiela, my chains I'ma wear ’em out," she raps.
Before she caps off her final bars, Coi switches up her flow and hits a higher tone to show love to her favorite jeweler: "Fell in love with this money, yeah I count it in my sleep/Avianne this water, yeah, he got it from the sea."
Watch Coi Leray add her special sauce to her 2021 XXL Freshman freestyle, powered by BODYARMOR, above.
If there's one thing Coi Leray is going to do it's celebrate her wins. The 2021 XXL Freshman, who reps both North Jersey and Boston, has been mastering her melody-driven, kinetic rhymes over the last four years, which have been put on full display for the masses as a result of her dazzling personality. Her consistency has paid off with a Republic Records deal and a banner year. Peruse her Instagram, where you'll see her signature twerking and flexing fire ’fits, scroll through her Twitter to witness her unfiltered thoughts and watch her music videos to catch her in action. She's become the life of the party in 2021, all while her platinum-selling, smash hit "No More Parties" boasts quite the opposite. Coi brings all that good energy to life in her version of XXL's ABCs.
The 24-year-old artist goes with a fruit she likes to pair with caramel to kick things off for the letter A: an apple. For B, Coi acknowledges that the opposite sex is wild out here. "These boys is crazy," she says. Fittingly, C is for Coi. Yes, it's her real name. "Coi is for Coi, the one and only," she expresses. "Coi is my first name. Leray is my middle name. And actually, Koi is spelled K-O-I like the fish, like the koi fish, but I'm C-O-I, period."
Bouncing around, laughing and twerking happen in Coi's ABCs, too. "Hater," she says with a smile and giggle when it comes to H. "I have many of them." Watch her address some of that hating peanut gallery in Mean Comments, which also leans in to her choice for N. "I don't like negative energy," Coi affirms. Positivity only. And "ratchet" is her pick for the letter R, which prompts a twerk session.
At Coi Leray's current height of fame, S stands for stress. "I don't have time to be stressed out at all…," she maintains. Coi's too blessed to be stressed. With "No More Parties," both the original and remix featuring Lil Durk, at over 45 million streams on Spotify and the video at 52 million YouTube views, success is evident. And she's no one-hit wonder. "Big Purr (Prrdd)" with Pooh Shiesty is proof of that. Her upcoming debut album, COI, will feature more of the rapping, singing and hit-making she's become known for so far.
As she nears the end of her ABCs, Coi gives a nod to XXL for the letter X. "You guys chose the right choice, very smart," she remarks of her 2021 XXL Freshman status.
Watch Coi Leray have a few laughs, reveal one of her favorite foods, share her memories of Washington Heights and more in XXL's ABCs below.
Coi Leray is giving a few fellow rhymers their flowers while they can still smell them. The 24-year-old 2021 XXL Freshman admits it's hard to come up with a list of her five favorite rappers, but she's up for the challenge. When it comes to the artists she either listens to often or finds inspiration from, the platinum-selling dynamo highlights a wide range of respected peers.
An artist who also appears on Coi's picks for her favorite hip-hop albums is at the top of this list. "Of course, you have Drake," she begins, kicking off her top five rappers with Toronto's rap behemoth. "He's the No. 1 of the No. 1. He actually just won artist of the decade. I've never heard of that shit a day in my life…" Coi is referring to Drizzy's recent Artist of the Decade honor at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards.
Straight out of the Bronx comes her No. 2 pick. "A Boogie I think is so fire," she shares. "I feel like he's always been a star. His pen game is super fire. His name is Artist." He chose the creative moniker as the title of his first mixtape, 2016's Artist.
Down in Florida is where another one of Coi's favored artists rests his head. "Number three would be Kodak Black," she expresses. "He don't care. He really says what he feels and he really paints a story for you." Listen to Bill Capri's Haitian Boy Kodak album to picture the visual.
Over in Chicago, two revered rappers get props from Coi. "G Herbo is also gonna be on that list, too," she says. "G Herbo is somebody that like I really enjoy listening to. You know, It makes me feel like I grew up with him sometimes just listening to his music or just understanding more about Chicago."
"Lil Durk for sure," Coi continues. "Lil Durk is hard. Lil Durk's been hard. I'm glad he's getting his flowers and I'm glad like he's really gonna be one of the biggest artists in the world."
Get familiar with Coi Leray's picks for her top five favorite rappers below.
Listen to any of the songs in Coi Leray's catalog and it's clear the North Jersey and Boston reppin' artist is driven by two things: plenty of melody and making hits. Her track record for success with both is evident. "No More Parties" is a platinum-selling smash with a Billboard Hot 100 No. 26 position and her follow-up track "Big Purr (Prrdd)" featuring Pooh Shiesty climbed to No. 69 on the same chart.
The 2021 XXL Freshman has mastered the art of creating tracks that resonate, whether it's rapping about "only doing shit that's gonna make me elevate" or locking in a catchphrase that has carried into her drops for radio and beyond. So, it's no surprise to hear some of Coi's favorite hip-hop albums come from artists who have secured their own chart success with songs that have impacted the culture. The 24-year-old rapper chooses five solid picks for the albums that have made a mark in her life.
First up, Coi selects A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie's 2016 mixtape Artist. Yes, this one's a tape, but the music as a whole sounds like the Bronx native was aiming for album-worthy content. Songs like "Jungle" and "Still Think About You" feature the melodic essence that has infiltrated much of Coi's own music.
Next up is Drake's 2009 classic tape So Far Gone. Drizzy crafted a perfect project here, and it's only right Coi show this effort some love.
She also adds Kodak Black's Institution, Chief Keef's Finally Rich and Lil Durk's Just Cause Y'all Waited. Two Chicago all stars get their shine on Coi's list.
“All of them altogether, imagine all of them actually on one project," she says. "Can we get them all one project so we can like go crazy for the summer?" Coi asks while looking to the sky with prayer hands. She's speaking for plenty of rap fans.
Watch Coi Leray look for someone to answer her prayer as she shares her top five favorite hip-hop albums below.
The 2021 XXL Freshman cyphers are finally here and best believe that they’re starting off with a bang. The first group with the task of showing and proving why they landed a spot on the coveted cover consists of 10th Spot winner DDG, Quality Control Music signee Lakeyah, soul crooner Morray and social media savant Coi Leray.
Each of the four acts use bull-ish bars and no-Auto-Tune warbling to skate through an enchanting beat, twirled with assuaging key melodies and pounding bass drops. That soothing foundation is set by none other than Internet Money creative Nick Mira, who serves as this year’s Freshman beat curator. Nick, who recently launched his own Mira Touch record label, produced the beats for each cypher along with a few Internet Money producers.
Michigan’s own DDG is the first rapper on the starting blocks with a domineering verse about toting clips longer than Jamaican hair, turning the cheek on his haters and running up the digits in his bank account. “Niggas switch up for the dollars/I be tryna be positive, but the drama/It be constantly following on my mama/But I guess it’s the side effects of the commas,” he delivers in a brash tone.
Next is Milwaukee seed Lakeyah, who picks up right where YouTuber-turned-rapper DDG leaves off. The self-proclaimed “Female Goat” takes a no-mercy approach to the beat as usual, and offers a hot rhyme about beating the odds to a pulp. “How the fuck she a Freshman when she dropped out of college?/And how the fuck she go so hard when she look like a model?/Buy a bitch life, legally I can’t even buy me a bottle/They know I’m a problem,” she spews briskly in just under one minute.
After cosigning Lakeyah's verse preceding his with an accurate “fucking fire,” Morray slides through with a sing-song flow that’s heard on tracks like the gold-selling “Quicksand.” Truly off the top of the dome, the Fayettenam stepper has in fact arrived with a chip on his shoulder and a strap on his hip. “Fuck it, don’t gotta write it/Fuck it, I rather spit it/Niggas talkin’ ’bout toilet bowls, bitch I’m shittin'/Like, whoa, what you mean you want the dough?/And you niggas talkin’ bullshit, but I’m the one with the flows,” he declares matter-of-factly. “Off the top bitch this shit is hot, what the fuck you niggas know?/When I come outside the strip club, I’m coming with the poles.”
Boston and New Jersey reppin' Coi Leray swaps her red cup with the mic and drives things home with a quotable ballad about camaraderie and commas. “C-O-I, love it when he say my name, yeah/Low-key, that my little sneaky link, aye/Yeah, I love when he fuck me to the beat, aye/He a freak, fell in love with me, let's go” she spits. Showing off her versatility, she croons during the second half of her rhyme before busting out into a mini twerk session.
Her last few lines are built around the phrase “We all get money,” which Morray uses as a base to dip back in with his church-grown harmonies for the outro. The beat fades as he salutes his group for their performance: “XXL, we in this. Aye, DDG, we did this/Lakeyah! Yeah, we did it,” he stamps, feeding confidence into his fellow Freshmen.
Watch DDG, Lakeyah, Morray and Coi Leray’s 2021 XXL Freshman cypher, powered by FX’s Dave, below.—Kemet High
The surreal feeling of turning a dream into reality is unmatched. Those pivotal moments are often filled with feelings of anxiety, peace and motivation, all wrapped up into one. 2021 XXL Freshmen DDG, Lakeyah, Morray and Coi Leray reflect on that during their post-cypher roundtable interview, along with their thoughts on what went down in Atlanta on the day of the Freshman shoot in May, their influences and their shared mindset of growing even bigger and better in the future.
DDG turned years worth of YouTube vlogs and social media leverage into the foundation of his budding rap career. Though he’s recently switched lanes to focus on rapping and left his YouTuber life behind, he defends the fact that he earned his spot. “It’s important to be a XXL Freshman ’cause I feel like I put the work in," DDG shares. "I feel like I’ve been working extremely hard. I put the numbers up, put the plaques up. So, I feel like it’s my time.”
It hasn’t even been a year since Lakeyah signed to her dream label Quality Control Music and made her way into the rap game. Reflecting on how she earned a deserving spot on this year’s cover, she acknowledges that though it’s just the tip of the iceberg for what’s yet to come, the big cosign feels unreal. “I’m a newcomer," she says. "I been in the game eight months, so, this is like crazy to me… I’m just working and I’m here.”
Morray echoes that sentiment as someone who similarly is now hitting an unavoidable stride. “No cap, I’ve been wanting to be a Freshman for a long time,” he adds. "I feel like this is more than an opportunity, it was something that I watched my whole life and now I get to be here… You get to see people on TV, but then when you meet them, they’re actually dope-ass people, so.”
Platinum-selling artist Coi Leray offers insight from an artist perspective on how low-key the entire process had to be along the way. “This is some secret shit, y’all don’t know about this shit," Coi reveals. "XXL don’t fucking tell us nothing, bro. They just tell you a time, show up, wardrobe, dressing room, whatever it is, but they don’t tell you who’s on there, like. They don’t give you none of that shit.”
Well, everything has been brought to life now.
Watch DDG, Lakeyah, Morray and Coi Leray’s 2021 XXL Freshman roundtable interview below.—Kemet High