Updated: Sep 12
Today marks the 15th anniversary of the start of XXLs freshman class. This list is made up of the best newcomers to grace the Hip-Hop scene and so far has proved wonderfully accurate in terms of who's got next. Pretty much all of our faves have been on the freshman list at the earlier stages of their careers; which is usually a time when they are at their most hungry and lyrically aggressive.
2007 was the first year and featured artists like Plies, Lil Boosie, Papoose and Young Dro. Two years later, we got Wale, B.O.B, Cory Gunz and Kid Cudi. XXLs freshman class continued to highlight future high fliers, their most iconic years, in our opinion, being 2011-2014 when we got J Cole, Nipsey Hussle, Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, YG, Mac Miller, Future and Meek Mill. Pop Smoke was in a freshman class but died before he was able to do the photoshoot.
I did wonder however, where the generations heavy hitters were i.e Drake. Nicki Minaj, Young Thug, Young M.A, and Tory Lanes. There were varying reasons but one that stood out most was that the artists had respectfully declined due to being chosen too late in their careers. For Drake and Nicki Minaj, the year was 2010 by which time, Nicki had already washed Kanye and Jay Z on monster, and was dubbed to release her landmark album Pink Friday. Drake was already enjoying album-like success from his mix tapes. It was indeed, too late.
Many of the featured artists have given us landmark bodies of work which stand the test of time and hold their own merit in quality. Which is important to note in this "2 minute song" moment that the industry is having.
Which artists would you put in your Freshman class this year, share your unsung heroes or new discoveries below!