Beginning in 2007 (skipping 2008), XXL released its annual Top 10 Freshman list. The issue features ten artists-to-watch, all appearing on the cover of the magazine. The list has a history of showcasing unknown/underground rappers, as well as artists considered to be on the rise. The list creates significant buzz among listeners and artists alike, and is credited for giving many artists their first taste of fame. The Freshman list has essentially become hip-hop?s draft class. And so, it?s fascinating to look back on which rappers were grouped as peers, which have ascended to greater heights, and which have fallen by the way-side. Considering 2017?s list is the tenth class to be anointed, it?s time to rank each list by star-power. Without further ado, XXL?s Freshman Class power rankings, in descending order.
Freshman: Playboi Carti, XXXTentacion, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, PnB Rock, MadeinTYO, Amin, Kap G, Kyle, Ugly God and Kamaiyah.
Overview: The most recent class is carried by the year?s hottest upstart, Playboi Carti. Simultaneously, XXX, Boogie, Amine, and Ugly God have showcased their potential.
Most Hyped MC When Published: Playboi Carti
Biggest Superstar Produced: Playboi Carti
Freshman: Fetty Wap, Dej Loaf, Raury, Kidd Kidd, OG Maco, Shy Glizzy, K Camp, Vince Staples, Tink, and GoldLink
Overview: Fetty Wap looks to be a one-hit wonder following his overnight success; leaving Vince Staples as the class? lone pillar
Most Hyped MC When Published: Fetty Wap
Biggest Superstar Produced: Vince Staples
Freshman: Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, Kodak Black, Denzel Curry, G Herbo, Dave East, Lil Dicky, Anderson Paak, Desiigner, and 21 Savage.
Overview: 2016?s class is high on potential. Since being featured on the cover, Savage has had three solo-singles go Platinum; Uzi?s ?XO Tour Llif3? went 3x Platinum; Yachty was featured on a song that topped Billboard?s Hot Hip-hop chart; and Kodak?s ?Tunnel Vision? became one of the biggest songs of the year.
Most Hyped MC When Published: Lil Uzi Vert
Biggest Superstar Produced: Lil Yachty
Freshman: Saigon, Plies, Rich Boy, Gorilla Zoe, Joell Ortiz, Lupe Fiasco, Lil Boosie, Crooked I, Papoose, and Young Dro
Overview: The inaugural class was headed by Saigon, Rich Boy and Lil Boosie. After being anointed ?the leaders of the new school?, the group produced radio-friendly, Plies, along with one of their generation?s greatest lyricists ? Lupe.
Most Hyped MC When Published: Rich Boy
Biggest Superstar Produced: Lupe Fiasco
#1 Hip-hop Albums ? Seven???Lupe Fiasco (4), Plies (2), & Rich Boy (1)
#1 Hip-hop Single ? Plies (?Shawty?)
Freshman: Kid Cudi, Wale, B.o.B, Charles Hamilton, Asher Roth, Cory Gunz, Blu, Mickey Factz, Ace Hood, & Curren$y.
Overview: Cudi, Wale, & B.o.B gained respect by following up their quick rise to mainstream hip-hop with exceptional careers. The class is deeper than it looks, when you remember Ace Hood and Curren$y?s cult-like following. Considering Drake?s ascendence happened in 2009, he should be included on this list. If so, the class would be considered for the top spot.
Most Hyped MC When Published: Wale
Biggest Superstar Produced: Kid Cudi
#1 Hip-hop Albums ? Seven???Wale (3), Kid Cudi (2), & B.o.B. (2)
#1 Hip-hop Singles ? Two???B.o.B. (?Nothin? on You?) & Wale (?Lotus Flower Bomb?)
Freshman: Chance The Rapper, Rich Homie Quan, Isaiah Rashad, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Durk, Kevin Gates, Troy Ave, Vic Mensa, Jon Connor, Lil Bibby, Jarren Benton, and August Alsina
Overview: Although Quan, Ty, & Gates have started to flame out, the class has one of the most influential artists of his generation ? Chance the Rapper.
Most Hyped MC When Published: Chance the Rapper
Biggest Superstar Produced: Chance the Rapper
Freshman: Future, Kid Ink, Danny Brown, French Montana, Macklemore, Don Trip, Machine Gun Kelly, Hopsin, Iggy Azalea, and Roscoe Dash
Overview: They have the most wide-ranging talent out of any other class; possessing a rapper?s rapper (Danny Brown), one of the decade?s most popular stars (Future), a hit-maker (Macklemore), and a full-blown pop-star (Iggy).
Most Hyped MC When Published: Future
Biggest Superstar Produced: Future
#1 Hip-hop Albums ? Twelve???Future (5), Kid Ink (2), Macklemore (2), French Montana, Machine Gun Kelly, & Iggy Azalea
#1 Hip-hop Singles ? Six???Macklemore (?Thrift Shop?, ?Can?t Hold Us?, ?Same Love?, & ?Downtown?), French Montana (?Unforgettable?), & Iggy Azalea (?Fancy?).
Freshman: Chief Keef, Travi$ Scott, Schoolboy Q, Trinidad James, Joey Bada$$, Ab-Soul, Logic, Action Bronson, Kirko Bangz, Dizzy Wright, and Angel Haze
Overview: 2013 may be the deepest group. Aside from Dizzy and Angel, the other nine rappers are all recognized for something, whether they are stars in their own right (Travi$, Schoolboy, & Keef), lyricists (Bada$$, Logic, Bronson, & Ab-Soul), or one-hit wonders (Trinidad & Bangz).
Most Hyped MC When Published: Chief Keef
Biggest Superstar Produced: Travi$ Scott
#1 Hip-hop Albums ? Seven???Schoolboy Q (2), Travi$ Scott (2), Logic (2), & Joey Bada$$
#1 Hip-hop Singles ?Kirko Bangz (?Drank in My Cup?)
Freshman: J. Cole, Pill, Nipsey Hussle, Freddie Gibbs, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, OJ da Juiceman, Jay Rock, Fashawn, and Donnis
Overview: Yes, 2010 is extremely top-heavy. Even so, the excellence of Cole, Wiz, and Sean is enough to cement this group as the second-best class in the list?s history.
Most Hyped MC When Published: Wiz Khalifa
Biggest Superstar Produced: J. Cole
#1 Hip-hop Albums ?Eleven???J. Cole (4), Big Sean (4), & Wiz Khalifa (3)
#1 Hip-hop Singles ?Four ? Big Sean (?My Last? & ?I Don?t Fuck With You?) & Wiz Khalifa (?Black and Yellow? & ?See You Again?)
Freshman: Kendrick Lamar, Meek Mill, YG, Mac Miller, Big K.R.I.T., Cyhi the Prynce, Lil Twist, Yelawolf, Fred the Godson, Lil B, and Diggy Simmons
Overview: Even if Kendrick was alongside ten no-name MCs, the greatest rapper of his generation is enough to justify the #1 ranking. It doesn?t hurt that his peers include Meek, YG, and Mac Miller. More fascinating, though, is that A$AP was left off, despite becoming a household name sooner than Kendrick.
Most Hyped MC When Published: Kendrick Lamar
Biggest Superstar Produced: Kendrick Lamar
#1 Hip-hop Albums ? Eleven???Kendrick Lamar (4), Meek Mill (3), YG (2), & Mac Miller (2)
#1 Hip-hop Singles ? Two???Kendrick Lamar (?Swimming Pools? & ?Humble?)