Once again, XXL Magazine has shaken up the world with the revelation of this year’s freshman class issue. With a class including the likes of Troy Ave, Lil’ Durk, Lil’ Bibby, Rich Homie Quan and for the first time, R&B artists have been featured. Here are the 10 best XXL Freshman. (this is strictly opinionated- driven by lyrical ability and success. So if your favorite rapper ain’t on here, that’s your problem!)
Kendrick Lamar (class of ’11) – arguably the best rapper out right now, K. Dot has made his mark by having his “thumb on hip-hop”, as he would say. Donned as the new king of the west by past west coast legend(who is this legend you speak of?), Kendrick officially bursted onto the scene with an independently released album Section.80 and followed up with his critically acclaimed, Grammy nominated debut album, Good Kid, m.A.A.d city. And let’s not forget the verse heard round the world on Big Sean’s Control. With his highly anticipated sophomore album on the way sometime this year, Kendrick has established himself with potential for longevity in the rap game.
Big KRIT (class of ’11) – He’s probably one of the most underrated artists. The Mississippi underground legend has shown that his lyrical ability is not to be toyed with. With his southern country style and hard hitting bars, KRIT has held his own since his first official appearance on Glass House. In 2010, KRIT garnered critically acclaimed attention with the release of the classic mix-tape KRIT Wuz Here. After the release of his follow up tape, Return of 4eva, critics went as far as to name him the successor of fellow southern rap legends such as Outkast, UGK and Scarface. His debut album Live From the Underground debuted at #1 on the Hip Hop & R&B charts and since then, he has appeared on numerous tracks. His sophomore effort Cadillactica is set to drop this year and his latest track Mt. Olympus proves that KRIT is out for blood this time around.
J. Cole (class of ’10) – After catching Jay Z’s attention, Cole became the first ____ artist signed to Hov’s Roc Nation imprint in 09. With numerous radio freestyles and two critically acclaimed mixtapes- The Warm Upand Friday Night Lights, critics wasted no time calling him the 2nd coming of his idol Nas. His debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story, successfully debuted at #1 on the billboard charts, earning him a Grammy nomination. Two years later, his sophomore effort Born Sinner outsold Kanye West’s Yeezus and spawned his biggest hit single to date, Power Trip. Cole is now focusing on pushing his Dreamvillain record label after signing a distribution deal with Interscope records.
Mac Miller (class of ’11) – As one of the most successful independent rappers of our time, Mac Miller has made a name for himself on his own. Who would have ever thought that a kid from Pittsburgh who stepped on the scene with laid back atmospheric mixtapes like The Miller Life and KIDS, would grow to be the consistently hard working artist that he is today. Though his bars aren’t as hard hitting as lost MCs, Mac Miller has learned to be true himself and not worry about having an identity in the game. His debut album Blue Slide Parkbecame the first independent album to hit the billboard charts at #1 since The Dogg Pound’s Dogg Food LP, in 1995. His sophomore LP, Watching Movies With the Sound Off was praised as his growth would show in the music. Say what you want about him, but you have to give credit where it’s due.
ScHoolboy Q (class of ’13) – Groovy Q has flourished throughout the industry ever since his re-emergence on the scene with the TDE machine behind him. He’s proven to hold his own even with the success of his fellow cohort Kendrick Lamar. His second independently released album Habits & Contradictions officially put the world on notice that Q has officially arrived. His album Oxymoron debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 garnering TDE its first #1 album.
Kid Cudi (class of ’09) – Scott Mescudi’s originality and emotional creativity has attracted a massive following among stoners, college and high school students. His debut mixtape A Kid Named Cudi captured the hearts of many and the eye of Kanye West, who signed him to GOOD Music in late 2008. The following year, Cudi released the critically acclaimed album Man on the Moon:The End of Day and in 2010 he released the sequel album, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. Both albums went gold and were highly praised by the masses, officially establishing Cudi as a top tier artist with a highly devoted fan base. Other than music, Cudi has also acted, he made an appearance on HBO’s, How to make it in America and starred in the recent film, Need for Speed. Though there are some artists missing on this list, it is without a doubt that XXL’s freshman issue has had, if not all, some responsibility for the success of the recipients’ careers. Though some major artists have respectfully declined in the past, (Drake, Nicki Minaj, A$AP Rocky, etc), XXL still manages to remain a credible source to learn more about talented up-and-comers and for these artists to attract a fanbase. We might not agree with the list most of the time, but there’s a method to the madness. XXL’s Freshman issue has been running strong for five years and counting. It’s one of the best concepts I’ve seen from a magazine. I hope the tradition will carry on and open doors for new talent. Peace, IJ , Cashmere Thoughts akidnamed.tumblr.com