Every year, hip-hop magazine XXL drops their Freshman Class to the eagerly awaiting masses - check out the site and last year’s list (pictured above). Essentially, this is a list of the 10 hottest up-and-comers for the year in the hip-hop industry. Over the years, this list has become a big deal as it outlines to the world the most talented young artists that hip-hop has to offer and gives a spotlight to those who truly deserve it. In this article, I will attempt to predict who will make this year’s list as well as some honourable mentions who I think are too good to not receive a shout-out.
- BLUEFACE BABY! With one of the hottest songs of the year thus far in “Thotiana” and the dance to go with it, there is no way Blueface doesn’t make this year’s list. He’s got that infectious ‘off-beat flow’ that was coined by none other than E-40, and is one of the most prominent talents coming out of the West. With other hits like “Dead Locs” and “Respect My Crippin,’” Blueface should be a mainstay in west coast rap for years to come.
- The second no-brainer for this year’s list is Gunna. With his extremely catchy voice and flow, it’s almost like he can’t stop making hits. He already dropped the album Drip or Drown 2 earlier this year, not to mention he’s been pumping out feature after feature. Gunna is here to stay!
Featuring Young Thug and Lil Baby, here’s Gunna’s “Oh Okay.”
- Gunna’s partner in crime, Lil Baby, is 100% going to be on this year’s list. He’s just as hot as Gunna and is showing no signs of slowing down. He dropped his debut album, Street Gossip, in 2018, as well as his joint project with Gunna, Drip Harder. Baby is one of the voices of the streets of Atlanta and he too will be here for a long time.
- There’s nothing that I can’t say about Juice Wrld. Hailing from Chicago, Juice is one of the hottest artists not just in hip-hop but in the entire music industry. At the age of just 20, he has become one of the pioneers of “emo-rap,” rising in prominence with songs like “Lucid Dreams” and “All Girls Are the Same.” In 2019, he dropped his second studio album, Deathrace to Love, which debuted at #1 on the US Billboard 200, selling 165k units in its first week. Juice is one of the most original artists to come out in a long time.
- Roddy Ricch is the next young voice coming out of Compton. With his sing-songy flow he has the ability to make those infectious songs that you can’t get out of your head. With hit songs like “Die Young” and “Every Season,” this is just the start for Roddy. He definitely deserves a spot on this list.
Check out Ricch’s “Every Season.”
- Of this year’s group, Cordae is definitely the best “rapper.” He’s got that lyrical style that is reminiscent of ‘90s rap. At the young age of 21, he has already garnered attention from hip-hop legends like Dr. Dre. He is so skilled that he was able to rap on an iconic Eminem beat and actually do it justice. It’s important to note that he is creating all of this buzz even without an album.
- Lil Mosey is by the far the youngest rapper on this list, but based on his talent you wouldn’t know it. He simply has one of those voices that seems to just float over top of instrumentals. His most popular song, “Noticed,” was one of the biggest bangers of 2018. With other strong songs in his arsenal like “Kamikaze” and “Greet Her,” Lil Mosey will definitely appear on this year’s list.
- Comethazine seemingly popped out of nowhere, rising in prominence after his song “Bands” appeared on Cole Bennett’s YouTube channel Lyrical Lemonade. He’s definitely one of the more unique rappers on this list, with darker vibes similar to the old Odd Future collective. His hit song, “Walk,” just got the remix treatment from A$AP Rocky, so Comethazine’s popularity continues to rise.
Here’s some of those unique vibes with “Bands.”
- DaBaby is definitely the latest to start popping on this list, but he’s so hot at the moment I think he’ll make the list. DaBaby has charisma for days with his playful lines and comedic videos. He has that Charlotte accent that makes his songs extremely fun. He just released his album Baby on Baby which is doing extremely well for zero promotion. Look for DaBaby to do amazing things this year.
- XXL always adds a female MC to their list and this year’s honoree will definitely be Rico Nasty. Her style and flow is unlike any female rapper we have ever seen. She’s been buzzin for a minute and it’s about time that she makes this list.
- Shoreline Mafia is a group consisting of Ohgeesy, Rob Vicious, Fenix and Master Kato. Hailing from LA, they are one of the most poppin’ groups in hip-hop right now. With hits like “Bands” and “Musty,” they have a classic California sound that is amazing for the summer. The only problem is that XXL has never had a group featured in their freshmen class, so they probably won’t make the list. Regardless, they deserve an honourable mention.
- TJay is New York’s latest up –and-comer. He has that melodic flow similar to A Boogie wit da Hoodie, and that’s a huge complement. Lately, he’s been creating massive buzz with his hit song “Brothers” and his guest appearance on Polo G’s banger “Pop Out.” If I had to guess, I’d say Lil TJay will be on the 2020 freshmen list.