Join us as we shed light on 10 very deserving artists.
In 2007, XXL released their first XXL Freshman Class list which featured 10 artists that hip-hop enthusiasts should keep an eye out for because they’re predicted to be next to blow. This became an annual edition of the magazine that would showcase a new generation of underground and rising artists each year. It’s no secret that with XXL’s rapport they’ve had their hand in breaking many artists into the industry, which in turned heightened their credibility. The list became a highly anticipated staple in the hip-hop community and for a while it maintained its momentum, but in more recent years it seems as though the XXL Freshman Class list has began to lose some value due to their selection of artists.
It’s that time of year again, the 2018 XXL Freshman Class List has recently surfaced and it seems as though the general consensus is that this year’s list closely resembles alley dumpsters behind your favorite restaurant. Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but the line up was less than desirable. Besides the artist selection, the main thing that seemed to rub me the wrong way was the theme XXL chose for this year’s Freshman List: “We Got Clout”. It’s pretty obvious that in this industry clout only gets you so far, clout is not an accolade and shouldn’t necessarily be treated as such either. XXL gained such a respected reputation from fellow media outlets, artists and consumers due to how discerning they once were while choosing artists for their covers. XXL once handpicked talented artists to feature on their cover, but it seems as though they have sight of that. With that being said I felt that it was necessary to highlight the artists that actually have talent. This is what the list should’ve looked like:
Valee, a 29 year old, Chicago native and GOOD Music's newest addition, Valee has rapped himself into the wonderful world of hip-hop with his ingenuous wordplay, intricate imagery and innovative flows. Valee’s style is nothing short of unique and extremely memorable which is obvious in his latest works, GOOD Job, You Found Me, which features his breakout hit “Miami” featuring fellow label mate, Pusha T. Valee serves up mindboggling bars with each new offering, and his flows will leave you wanting more with each new release. Stream his latest project below:
Saweetie has been applying all the pressure from the moment she arrived on the scene. She has been holding it down for the ladies as well as putting California on the map while doing so. Her lyrics are loaded with sugar, spice and everything nice. Saweetie maintains her boss mentality through her relatable yet empowering lyrics. She makes music that makes women feel good about themselves, which is always needed. High Maintenance, Saweetie’s debut project, caught many by surprise due to her prominent attitude in many of her lyrics, she also had a hand in the production process of her project as well.
Key Glock is getting his feet wet as he steps out into the industry, under the guidance of his cousin, Young Dolph, who he is currently signed to. Key Glock, is showing what his Memphis roots made of him at a young 20 years old. Although the two have similar sounds Key Glock provides a fresh perspective on many of his singles. With polished flows, expressive lyrics, and underrated uses of ad libs, Key Glock’s confidence is apparent and written all over his lyrics and that's what makes it worth listening to. Glock Bond, his latest offering, allows him to show more of what he’s made of. His hit single, Russian Cream is being played at a session near you.
It's a Juice WRLD, and we're just living in it. Juice WRLD is the true “freshman” of the bunch, this free-spirited 19 year old, Chicagoland native, has creatively made an impact on the music scene as he arrived riding his own wave. Since his recent debut he’s landed himself a spot on the billboard rankings, sold out shows and made quite name for himself. His choice of futuristic production makes him a very appealing artist, the impressive blends of sounds compliments his overall image, immediately making him stand apart from other artists. Juice WRLD was also recently seen spitting bars for well over an hour in his latest interview with Tim Westwood. Stream his latest project, Goodbye & Good Riddance here:
While Saba is not a newbie to the music scene, it's time that he gets the recognition he deserves. His latest project Care For Me proves that Saba deserves a spot amongst the greats. Saba uses Care For Me to paint the perfect picture of who he is and his life experiences, while using his his brilliant lyrics as the paintbrush and the beat as his canvas. Saba is nothing short of a vivid storyteller, his flows always seems to compliment his production choice in a way that allows Saba to show off his true creative ability to create great, conceptual music. Saba has a sound that will never grow old, if you haven't already experienced Care For Me, please do so immediately.
Lil Baby is one of Atlanta’s latest gifts to the world. As a member of the Atlanta Label, Quality Control, with fellow signees Migos and Lil Yachty the pressure to be above average is on, and the bar is set fairly high for Lil Baby, but with his music gaining the attention of rappers like Drake and Kevin Gates, it's safe to say that Lil Baby is exceeding expectations as of now. His impressive narratives detail his street encounters all while the execution and delivery of bars carries him to the next level. After his breakout hit "My Dawg" Lil Baby decided to lock in and bring the streets nothing but heat since. Baby's hustle mentality reflects on many tracks on his most recent drop, Harder than Ever.
Hailing from St. Louis, Smino tests creative limits as he creates a new image for artists arising from the area. Smino exercises full creativity in all his music in a very captivating way that leaves you wanting more every single time. Smino's creative abilities are unmatched as bars mature into heavy harmonies and spiritual melodies in many of his songs. With songs like "Anita" and "Netflix & Dusse" there's no debate that Smino is undoubtedly one of the more talented artists of our generation. At times it almost feels like Smino has created his own Genre, it’s not quite rap, but not quite r&b either. Regardless of what it's called, the music that Smino makes is well worth the listen, and worth the replay, don't believe me? Stream, BLKSWN just one time and allow Smino to change your mind.
If you are not already in tune with Rico Nasty, then it's extremely important that you do so, like yesterday. Rico Nasty is bringing us a taste of what the DMV has to offer to the world with each new drop. Rico’s originality is unlike anything I've ever seen, especially from a female artist. Unique is an understatement when it comes to Ms. Nasty, she's truly one of a kind. Everything about her stands out in its own right, from her outlandish style to her raspy voice, over the top lyrics and her uptempo, grungy production. She’s gives me trap-rockstar vibes. If I handed you the lyrics to one of her latest singles, Trust Issues, you'd think the song had a completely different sound but pop in some earbuds and 30 seconds in you'll realize that Rico Nasty brings a rare and uncommon sound to the hip-hop industry but she sells it so well. Rico recently dropped her latest tape Nasty, and I think you all should give it a listen, if you've been sleep on Rico Nasty, she'll wake you up very soon.
Georgia is one of the few states around the country that have birthed many of talented rappers from Atlanta to College Park the state breeds hustle. Gunna is one of those hustle bred rappers residing from College Park. After making his debut on Young Thug’s single, Floyd Mayweather alongside Gucci Mane and Travis Scott, Thug took Gunna under his wing as he made him YSL’s newest signee. While Thug’s influence is prevalent in his music, Gunna still has his own drip with straightforward, witty lyrics, and swift flows Gunna skates over most production regardless of who he works with, whether it’s Jay Cassius or Zaytoven, he bodies the beat which can be heard on his latest collective, Drip Season 3:
Chicago is birthing a new generation of hip-hop artists with array of colorful and distinguishing sounds. Quiet as kept there are a number of artists producing great music, one of Chicago's hidden gems is Femdot, and he's been shining as of late. Femdot’s lyrical capacity is massive, he has an immaculate vocabulary neatly stitched into creative cadences, tucked into prolific storytelling abilities and there will always be a number clever bars to catch you up. Peeling back the layers of his music allows listeners to learn more about who he is. Fem's latest offering Delacreme 2 provides a hearty amount of lyricism, top notch production and flows for days that I'm sure any hip-hop enthusiast will enjoy. 2018 thus far has been a pretty great year for Femdot, he's earned himself a spot on the 2018 Lollapalooza lineup and will be blessing the stage August 4th alongside Logic, Daniel Caesar, The Weekend and many other artists. Grab some tickets and add Delacreme 2 into your life.