Alright it’s that time once again where the good people at XXL shock, confuse, validate and spark conversation as they unveil their Freshmen List. Although I do thoroughly enjoy this, once again, I have absolutely no clue how they pick their list but I will admit this year’s list does make a whole lot of sense.
The Freshmen List [IN MY MIND] is the next crop of artist that will be the most talked about of the current year or of years to come. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that I have my eyes and ears to the underground a little closer than the average music consumer does, so when I see some of the names I’m quick to say “But they already popping though”…However, there will always be apart of me that feels this list should be full of people I have NEVER heard of before, that are indeed going to take the game by storm. That’s wishful thinking since the plan vs actual of life just doesn’t make that a feasible reality. So, lets break down the 2014 list.
August Alsina and Ty Dolla $ign – Off Top Ty Dolla $ign is my DOG! Big fan of his music! Beach House 2 is still in rotation right now! I haven’t even got a chance to appreciate the EP yet cause that mixtape is so hard. Ty no question is my favorite artist of 2014. I hear a lot about August Alsina because the ladies are becoming a BIG fan of dude. However, these are R&B Cats. I know the content is a little harsh but to me, putting them on this list is like putting Chris Brown and Trey Songz on this list. This is like putting Nate Dogg in 1994 on this list. I thought it was Emcee Exclusive. They obviously make 11 and 12 and really could end up with the best careers out of everyone on this list so I get it.R&B needs the look and XXL needed to let the readers know they are indeed paying attention to both of them. I want to see them both win. So respect to XXL for giving them this look.
Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, Lil Durk and Lil Bibby – Chicago has 4 artist that made the Freshmen List! WOW! That is honestly dope! As an Illinois Boy born and raised this is great! I did feel that Chance should have made it last year and Acid Rap proved that but, I will say that the look for this year is even better because he’s made major moves, doing his own Indie tour and had some new experiences so I’m definitely looking forward to hearing some growth in his music.
I think Vic Mensa is DOPE! Orange Soda was one of my favorite joints of 2013 and his Innanetape project was pretty solid. I’m not sure where he is headed subject wise but I just like the fact that he can really rhyme.
Lil Durk. I’ll be honest I’m not a fan. I don’t rock with that whole “Chiraq” movement and state of mind and from what I heard, that’s all he about. So hey…He has a major label deal and running with French Montana and Meek Mill so, I’m sure he’ll be fine.
Lil Bibby. I actually know nothing about him to say anything. This is what I like about the Freshmen List. There is always at least one that you have to get up to speed on to form a fair opinion about what they are going to do this year.
Kevin Gates and Jarren Benton – So overall I don’t know much of anything about these two. I can tell you I was told to listen to Kevin Gates and I started listening to his By Any Means project and by track 2 I was called into a meeting and never got back to it. Jarren Benton I actually just seen perform Saturday in Indianapolis opening for Tech N9ne and his set was pretty nice! That Gimme The Loot is dope and the fact that he’s signed to Hopsin let’s you know lyrically he get busy. Once again two more artist that you at least got to give a look to because they made this list. Real opinions will be formed by Summer.
Isaiah Rashad and Rich Homie Quan – Isaiah rolls with TDE and I still haven’t heard his project yet. His cypher verse was a good showing and I respect it. Everyone on T.D.E can really rap so my expectation of him is kind of high. With Ab-Soul having release date issues one can only speculate exactly where Rashad’s career is headed.
Rich Homie Quan has some VERY dope projects and features out. I’ll be honest, Rich Homie is Dope! If you don’t agree, you have haven’t heard Still Going In Reloaded and “I Promise I Will Never Stop Going In”. Kid makes good music man. Period.
Jon Connor and Troy Ave – I am already a fan of both of these cats! Troy Ave has come a LONG way. Two years ago, I probably would have told you Troy Ave was one of the worst new rappers out. However, everything after Bricks In My Backpack 3 has been Hard As Hail! That New York City the album is TOUGH! I’m actually anticipating what he has on deck next.
I took a chance on Jon Connor when I seen he used the Kanye Bear for his cover of his mixtape and became a real fan by Track 4, which was his New Slaves cover. Jon Connor is flat out the Best Rapper of this bunch easily. He may end up being one of the best emcees you heard in WHILE. Dude is Nice! Please listen to Best In The World Kanye. You won’t regret it.
Well there you have it. I will say I am glad that I am a fan of a lot of the guys on this list unlike previous years where I had to seriously do research on about half the list but once again that could be because I’m more in tune with the game and not how they picked the list.
This is a list compiled of artist who have dropped great debut projects, have indie or major label deals, hit singles, solid co-signs and artist who have been on tour since last year. Pedigree wise spot for spot this is honestly the most thorough list of the last 5 years easy.[2010 the list was J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa, Nipsey Hussle, Big, Sean, Freddie Gibbs, Jay Rock, Pill, OJ Da Juice Mane, Fashawn and Donnis made it] and let’s be honest some of y’all just started listening to some of them NOW. So don’t scoff at this list yet.
2009 the list was [B.o.B, Kid Cudi, Curren$y, Wale, Ace Hood, Asher Roth, Mickey Factz, Cory Gunz, Blu, and Charles Hamilton] again, don’t scoff at this list yet.
What are your thoughts on this years list? Impressed? Not? Who should be on it? I think this one is the most accurate in recent memory. Some past picks had me feeling like XXL was taking too big of a gamble in order to “put us up on something.
Still no Earl Sweatshirt…….Vince Staples will make the list next year. WATCH!
Let me know something