Since 2017, many rap fans have complained about the names listed on the XXL Freshman class as well as some of the weak rap cyphers that have been featured.
Beginning in 2007, XXL releases its annual "Freshman Class" list featuring 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.
Excluding 2020, many fans state that the list has been irrelevant since 2016. However, many might not realize that this 2022 class has the possibility of hosting some of the best artists to come.
The Jacksonville rapper is notably known for his viral track “Who Want Smoke” featuring Lil Durk, 21 Savage and G Herbo. His aggressive tone and dark production has led him to be a fan favorite. The young rapper has a laidback voice but a wicked pen. He has clear potential to become a well-known name if he continues this momentum.
This other Florida-based artist is one of the most interesting and spellbinding on this list. She has been in the game for a while now but has been blowing up thanks to her recent single “Crazy” and album “Oh The Places You’ll Go.” Her style reminds me of a mix of Baby Tate and Junglepussy. The Top Dawg artist has an alternative sound that is unique, but her lyrical ability and storytelling is down to Earth.
Detroit has been rising in popularity over the past few years, and one of the standout names is none other than Babyface Ray. His nonchalant flow has made him a fan favorite, and with the release of his album “FACE,” he seems to be breaking into the mainstream. Having work that dates past a decade, he has received praise and respect from some of the best including Future, Peezy and Rio Da Yung OG.
Kali is part of the rising group of female rappers that have been blowing up in the past few years due to their individual sound. Her voice sounds lush, but her lyrics are hard hitting. Most known for her track “MMM MMM” featuring Atl Jacobs, the rapper also released an underrated project titled “Toxic Chocolate” this year.
Considered to be a prodigy, KayCyy is one of the biggest names in the underground. His fluid sound and fascinating melodies have led him to work with Lil Baby, Kanye, 070 Shake, Fivio Foreign and more. Recently, the Kenyan artist released an EP titled “Get Used To It." It will be interesting to see how his cypher goes since he focuses more on melodies and production.
Though people currently associate Houston rap with Travis Scott and Megan Thee Stallion, KenTheMan is making headway. If anybody is made for this freestyle, it has to be her. Her wordplay is so clever that she can rap on any beat. She just released her track “No Panties” that is launched by its imposing trap bass.
Ypsilanti’s own Babytron is an artist with a cult-like fanbase who has skyrocketed in popularity recently. His wordplay, versatility and his playful references to pop culture have taken him to the top of the game right now. Some of his most popular tracks are "Prince of the Mitten,“ "King of the Galaxy” and “Emperor of the Universe” where he raps over multiple beats at once.
There are plenty of other rising stars that will be featured in this class including rappers like Saucy Santana, Sofaygo, Cochise, Big30 and Big Scarr, along with renowned producer Wheezy Outta Here Dj.
I have hopes that this class follows 2016 and proves the list’s haters wrong.