The XXL Freshmen list is an interesting roll call in hip hop: it’s supposedly set up to give a “next big thing”-type of certification to its choices, but by the time it is announced some of their selections have established a successful career. It’s supposed to be a glammed-up version of The Source’s influential Unsigned Hype column, but the fact is that thanks to a constantly advancing digital age many people know of their choices before they’ve even made. Still, there are rappers that still crave the Freshmen stamp.
Following a 2015 list which had the likes of Vince Staples, DeJ Loaf, Fetty Wap, and Raury, the 2016 incarnation consists of (in alphabetical order):
A couple takes:
Desiigner has owned a top-charting, platinum-selling single in “Panda” for a few months now; it’s safe to say that he is past the “Freshmen” stage in his career and into the “will he/won’t he make it” level. Andreson .Paak has been touring the planet and performing at major festivals such as Coachella, not to mention the fact he is signed to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Records. G Herbo should have been included in 2015 with fellow rhyme barbarian Lil Bibby. Lil Dicky has a gold-selling single in “Save That Money,” and has been in several commercials for Trojan and Carl’s Jr/Hardees. Aside from that, the other selections aren’t bad at all, if at the very least a safe choice.