XXL Magazine has established an annual event that builds anticipation amongst rap/hip-hop fans and industry execs alike. Their “Freshman Class” issue is indeed something special – it groups together some of the best newcomers in the game. The group that XXL chooses to grace the cover of this celebratory publication is defined as the next to blow, the best the industry has to offer and the future of music as a whole. 2013’s edition is currently being put together as we all wait in anticipation for the big reveal.
I can’t get enough of XXL Magazine (I still got love for The Source), so I figured I’d make their job a little easier and point out 10 MC’s who should definitely be in the running.
Here’s part 1 of my list of who needs to grace the 2013 XXL Freshman Class cover:
10. Stalley – Stalley has to be MMG’s most slept on and criminally ignored artist. The Ohio MC with the epic beard and smooth flow has put out dope mixtapes under Ross’ record label banner. His blue collar personality makes him instantly likable, and his content speaks to every type of audience imaginable. Lincoln Way Nights contains some of his finest work and I think more rap/hip-hop heads should look in Stalley’s direction more often. Wale and Meek Mill hold it down for MMG, but so does this conscious MC.
9. Hitboy – Kanye West inspired him to do great things; now he’s a proud member of G.O.O.D. Music, the very label his inspiration leads. Hitboy’s production makes him stand out amongst other beat makers, but his actual rap career pushes him to the forefront even more. Take this dude seriously, y’all – he can flow with the best of them. He’s young, he’s ready and he’s set to become one of the world’s next best rapper/producers.
8. Rockie Fresh – Another young MMG upstart, Rockie Fresh is a breath of fresh air that reps Chicago proudly. His whole aura exudes that of an eclectic young man who dabbles in rock music and 80’s/90’s pop culture. His smooth flow forms a cohesive bond with some of the more experimental production he rhymes on. Rockie’s a different type of cat, and that’s what I like about him the most. The future is bright, but I’m cool with him rocking us back to ’88.
7. Trinidad James – Man, this guy right here. One infectious mixtape song/video turned into a multimillion dollar record deal for Trinidad James. I didn’t understand the hype behind this dude at first, but I made an effort to listen to his entire project. I came away pleasantly surprised. James’ look brings him most of the attention, but I enjoy his simple lyrics and conversational records. I believe him now because he simply told me to just watch. Give him a chance and you might just see what Def Jam sees in him.
6. Schoolboy Q – Top Dawg Entertainment ruled 2012, and they’re going to mark 2013 as their year, too. Kendrick Lamar’s more gangster-ish counterpart is none other than Schoolboy Q. Q has consistently made great music and now I think he’s due for a look on the Freshman cover. He keeps it real, gritty and uncut. He can keep up with his label mates on a lyrical level. And his stories about past homies, Molly escapades and Los Angeles living are enthralling. Schoolboy Q’s Habits and Contradictions made me a believer. It will make you one too.