It seems like its been ages since we all first laid eyes on the atrocity known as the 2016 XXL Freshman Class. Many people couldn’t fathom some of the artists being praised by the prominent rap magazine, with personalities like Kodak Black and 21 Savage suddenly taking over the music scene. Those same people are going to feel even more uneasy when they see some of the nominees for the 2017 Freshman cover. Looking back on it, last year’s class wasn’t so bad after all when you consider some of the names pitching their case this time around. With that being said, here is my prediction of who will get selected to represent the future of hip-hop on the 2017 XXL Freshman Cover:
The Locks: Young M.A. & A Boogie wit da Hoodie
I consider these two young MC’s to be shoo-ins for the cover. They’re basically already in as far as I’m concerned, with the pair being two of the more popular rappers on the pre-list. A Boogie’s original flow and alternative pronunciation of certain words is what makes him so popular, and his hits such as “My Sh*t” and “Jungle” only bolster his case to make the cover. Young M.A had every club in the country screaming ‘OOOUUU’ at one point in time and the chart-topping banger may be the most well-known song made by any of the nominees. Aside from her hit single, the Brooklyn product also has a quality EP out titled SleepWalkin, featuring underrated tracks like “HennyNHoes” and “Hood Love.”
Underrated, Real Talent: Nav & PnB Rock
PnB Rock really made his mark with the release of his latest album, GTTM: Goin Thru the Motions. Aided by features from Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, and fellow XXL-hopefuls A Boogie and YFN Lucci, the Philly rapper really nailed this project. The album, along with his hook on Kodak Black’s “Too Many Years,” should be enough to get PnB voted onto the cover.
Nav, on the other hand, is still extremely underrated and will probably blow up very soon, with a joint project produced by Metro Boomin on the way. The duo is likely going to create even more hype than Metro and 21 did with Savage Mode about a year ago. Nav is multidimensional in the sense that he isn’t exactly a rapper. He has the voice and range to make similar music to stars like PARTYNEXTDOOR. Expect a big year from Toronto’s next rising star.
Honorable Mention: 6lack: Another underrated, multidimensional singing rapper. Unfortunately there’s only 10-12 spots so he didn’t make my final list, but he definitely has a shot to make the actual cover.
Trash but Hyped: Famous Dex & Blac Youngsta
I am by NO means a fan of Famous Dex. I really couldn’t even tell you one song by him off the top of my head. I think he is absolute trash. But even if he’s trash, he’s got a lot of hype around him right now. I expect him to make it just like Kodak, Uzi and 21 made it and maybe he’ll actually grow on me like the others have. But until he does that, he’s trash and that’s all I have to say about him. This video basically ended any chance of me listening to a Famous Dex track:
I’m a lot more fond of Blac Youngsta than I am of Famous Dex. Youngsta carries a voice and flow quite similar to Rich Homie Quan, and his “Come Thru” collaboration with Quavo off his 2016 project F*ck Everybody is a great song. Aside from his music, Youngsta is known for flaunting large stacks of cash on Twitter and Instagram. Despite this, he seemed extremely down to earth during his Breakfast Club interview. I think all of this should add up to a spot on this year’s cover.
Honorable Mention: Playboi Carti: Dexter and Playboi Carti are essentially the exact same thing to me. Both are extremely overhyped and have a pretty good shot at making the cover, but if it were up to me only one of them should make the final cut, if that.
Good Vibes: MadeinTYO & D.R.A.M
MadeinTYO is a personal favorite of mine, even if he isn’t a lyrical or necessarily serious rapper. A rap song doesn’t need to sound like it was written by Tupac himself for it to be enjoyable to listen to. TYO not only topped the charts with “Uber Everywhere,” but put out two quality albums in 2016. If you look at the other nominees, he definitely has more notable songs than most of them.
D.R.A.M is typically known for “Broccoli,” one of the hottest songs of 2016. Lil Yachty was already recognized last year, so it’s only right that the other half of the previously #1 song’s duo gets his. D.R.A.M followed up that banger with another one in “Cash Machine” and has the potential to continue making quality music.
Honorable Mention: Ugly God: Ugly God is a total goof. He seems like a pretty humble, funny guy. His main hit “Water” is extremely catchy and can potentially carry him to the final list, however he may not have enough good songs under his belt just yet to make a legitimate case.
Atlanta’s Next Big Names: Dae Dae & Rich The Kid
It’s pretty clear that Atlanta is currently the capital of hip-hop. Churning out superstars such as Future, Young Thug, Gucci Mane, Migos, and so on, ATL will continue to put young rappers on the map. Dae Dae’s “Wat U Mean (Aye, Aye, Aye)” definitely jumpstarted his career, and he has since followed it up with “Spend It,” “Dem Days,” and “Woke Up,” a collaboration with London On Da Track. Remixes by Lil Yachty, Young Thug, and Young M.A have helped get his name out, but don’t think Dae Dae can’t do it on his own.
Originally born in New York, Rich The Kid moved to Atlanta at age 13 and was immediately influenced by ATL legends T.I and Young Jeezy. “Goin Crazy” with Migos and his features on both Steve Aoki’s “How Else” and Carnage’s “WDYW” were more than enough to make me a Rich The Kid fan. He still needs to make more music, however I see some serious potential in this rising Atlanta talent.
The Wild Card: XXXtentacion
When I first found out about this guy, I thought he was TRASH. “Look at Me!” is his claim to fame and currently the only song he has available on Apple Music. And it grew on me like a motherfucker. This song is fucking hype. This video of XXX performing it live is insane:
XXXtentacion’s SoundCloud has a lot more music available and some of it is very dark and deep. His mysterious personality and recent headlines involving Drake stealing his flow are why I think he should get a spot. He is currently facing multiple years in prison however, so even if he is selected he may not be available. Dubbed the “hardest rapper in Florida” by A$AP Rocky, XXX is really starting to flourish even though he’s behind bars.
Last and definitely least: WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?
Although there was a variety of names that I was familiar with on this year’s pre-list, there was also a bunch of names that made me question my generation and the future of hip-hop. Lil Peep, Lil Pump, and NBA Young Boy just sound like a bunch of dudes who have Biggie rolling over in his grave right now.
That concludes my selections, so here is a quick recap of who I think will make the 2017 XXL Freshman Cover:
Young M.A, A Boogie, PnB Rock, Nav, Blac Youngsta, Famous Dex, MadeinTYO, D.R.A.M, Dae Dae, Rich The Kid, and Xxxtentacion
Just Missed the Cut: 6lack, Ugly God, Young Dolph, Trill Sammy, Playboi Carti, YFN Lucci, Lud Foe, Anime & Montana of 300.