XXL Magazine is a leading American hip-hop magazine most well-known for their annual freshman class. This class contains the magazine’s top ten picks for the best upcoming rappers. In previous years this list contained some of the greatest rappers of today, such as Kendrick Lamar (class of ’11), Danny Brown (’12), Joey Bada$$ (’13), Chance the Rapper (’14) and several others. However, the XXL Freshman Class also features rappers who have fallen off or didn’t rise to their hype. The XXL Freshman List isn’t necessarily a look into the future of rap, but it is heavily talked about, critiqued and observed.
This year’s XXL Freshman Class is A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Aminé, Kamaiyah, Kap G, Kyle, Madeintyo, Playboi Carti, PnB Rock, Ugly God and fan-voted 10th Spot winner XXXTentacion.
XXL put out a list earlier this year of about 116 rappers and asked fans to vote for their favorite. All 10 members of the Freshman Class were on this list, but XXXTentacion was the only one chosen based on fan votes (to my knowledge).
Now, I don’t entirely agree with the 2017 XXL Freshman Class, but who does? So, I decided The Sami Fisher Blog would do its own version of the XXL Freshman Class. I’ve taken my 10 favorite rappers from the list of 116 put out by XXL and made my own Freshman Class from that. Obviously I don’t know all 116 of the rappers on XXL’s list, and I honestly didn’t make the effort to get to know them all. These are my favorites that I know of, in alphabetical order. Anyway, read it:
1. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie was one of XXL’s picks for the ’17 Freshman Class. I think he’s a good choice, he’s a 21 year old from the Bronx. You have probably heard “My Shit,” which put him on the map. I’m not super familiar with A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, but the songs I do know I enjoy.
2. Allan Kingdom
I love, love, love Allan Kingdom. “Evergreens” was on heavy rotation in 2015 for me. Kingdom is a Canadian rapper based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He’s a member of Thestand4rd, alongside Spooky Black, who you may know, as well as Bobby Raps and Psymun. He’s also 23 and apparently did a song with Kanye West, Paul McCartney and Theophilus London already.
Aminé makes my heart skip beats. You know his song “Caroline,” it’s certified platinum three times… I remember hearing it on the radio in my car (R.I.P.) and I had to know what I was listening to immediately. Now I know and everyone knows, he’s on the cover as a member of the 2017 XXL Freshman Class. Aminé is unreal, 23 and from Portland, Oregon.
4. Joey Purp
Sometimes I like to pretend I’m from Chicago. Joey Purp is a 23-year-old Chicago treasure with incredible talent. Also, hello to other Chicago icons in this video; Chance, Knox Fortune, Towkio (keep reading…).
5. Kevin Abstract
Kevin Abstract melts genres together and doesn’t necessarily fit into the constraints of rap. He takes his multi-genre influences and creates music unique to his perspective and vision. It’s really incredible. The 20 year old is on his second solo album and is also a part of BROCKHAMPTON.
6. Little Simz
There have hardly been any women represented on the XXL Freshman Class cover. Included in previous years were Iggy Azalea (’12) and Angel Haze (’13). I believe Nicki Minaj was asked, but turned it down. I should mention a lot of rappers turn down the cover. Anyway, Kamaiyah is the only woman to make the cover this year, but there were a handful of immaculate women on XXL’s list of 116. Little Simz is one of those women. She’s a 23-year-old from London who is established, multi-talented and just so damn good. The women I’m going to continue to list are so deserving of the cover, I genuinely don’t understand why they didn’t make it.
When I saw Noname wasn’t on the cover, I was seriously blown away. Out of all the artists I saw on XXL’s list, I felt Noname was the one with the most talent. That may be a bold statement, but if you believe rap stands for rhythm and poetry, then you best believe Noname is one of the best doing it right now. Formerly known as Noname Gypsy, Noname is known for her ethereal and mesmerizing style that could be described as elevated slam poetry (she is a slam poet as well). She reminds me of the late 80’s, early 90’s era of Digible Planets, Ms. Lauryn Hill and De La Soul, an era of hip-hop music that deserves a revival (especially now). She’s 25 from none other than Chicago, Illinois. You might have heard her heavily acclaimed album “Telefone,” or at least her verse on Chance the Rapper’s “Finish Line/Drown.”
8. Princess Nokia
When I saw Noname wasn’t on the cover, I was shocked. When I saw Princess Nokia wasn’t on the cover, I was pissed. Princess Nokia even had a pitch for the XXL cover, I really thought I’d see her in the 2017 Freshman Class. She put out her debut album last year and recently turned 25. She’s from New York City and has performed under the names Wavy Spice and Destiny. I love listening to her music, and probably love listening to her interviews just as much. She’s smart, listen up.
Smino is a 25 year old rapper and singer from St. Louis, Missouri. Smino’s music is beautiful, sexy, soulful, funky, and might make you melt. His debut album, “blkswn” came out on March 14 of this year.
I put “Tear Drop” at number 30 on my Top 40 Songs of 2016 list, and I should have put it higher. This is my favorite Towkio song, but he’s one of those artists that hypnotizes me with his potential (I’m so fucking excited for a debut album). Towkio has previously performed under the names Preston San and Tokyo Shawn, and is associated with Joey Purp and Chance the Rapper, all from Chicago. You may have heard Towkio on Chance’s “Juke Jam.” He’s the voice that’s not Justin Beiber.
That’s The Sami Fisher Blog’s 2017 XXL Freshman Class. Do you agree with me? Disagree? Feel free to let me know. For more music posts and bullshit, follow The Sami Fisher Blog on Twitter and Instagram. (Cover Image Credits: )