Ranking Every XXL Freshman Class (2007-Present) from WORST to BEST: The Top 5
The BOLD indicates the winner of the fan-voted 10th spot.
Hits: Indicates the artist is still very relevant in the MAINSTREAM hip hop scene.
Mehs: Indicates either the artist was massive and significantly fell off or they just make noise here and there.
Misses: Indicates the artist has little to no relevance. People don’t care if they drop music anymore or if they ever did.
DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Mosey, Tierra Whack, Blueface, Roddy Ricch, YK Osiris, Cordae, Rico Nasty, Comethazine, Gunna
Megan Thee Stallion, Roddy Ricch, Cordae, Gunna, Rico Nasty
Tierra Whack, DaBaby
Blueface, Lil Mosey, YK Osiris, Comethazine
Just like the 2020 class, these are merely PREDICTIONS! I’m predicting the trajectory of these artists’ careers as it is way too early to tell who are hits, mehs, and misses.
Megan Thee Stallion has the most loyal fanbase on the list. Not only does Megan consistently drop music but her “hotties” support her through and through. Outside of Nicki Minaj, she may have the top fanbase in women’s hip-hop. She sits atop the throne and should be around for a while. She not only blew up the charts with the “Savage” remix with Beyoncé, she also featured on “WAP”, and both of those hit #1 on Billboard. Her project ‘Good News’ debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200.
Roddy Ricch is another one with rising popularity. Despite only being 22, Roddy has amassed a ton of accomplishments having already won a Grammy for “Racks in the Middle” with the late Nipsey Hussle. With hits like “Ballin” and “The Box”, Roddy has been launched straight to superstardom. “The Box” spent 11 weeks on the Hot 100 charts. It did so well that Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber were basically begging fans to stream their music—I ain’t forget. In 2020, the success didn’t stop. Roddy had a feature on Pop Smoke’s posthumous debut ‘Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon’ on the song, “The Woo” alongside 50 Cent. He would also go on to do features with DaBaby, Meek Mill, and NLE Choppa. It is safe to say Roddy Ricch will be around for quite some time.
Cordae breaking away from YBN was the best thing he could have done, honestly. Sometimes breaking away is necessary for growth. In order for Shawn Michaels to be The Heartbreak Kid, he needed to let go of The Rockers and Marty Jannetty. Cordae had way too much talent for that group and now he’s the most relevant of them all. After appearing on the list, Cordae dropped ‘The Lost Boy’ in 2019. The project was well-received by music critics. In 2020, Cordae released “Gifted” with Roddy Ricch and announced he was working on his second album. In the meantime, Cordae participated in Black Lives Matter protests and was even arrested along with NFL wide receiver Kenny Stills in Louisville. Dating tennis star Naomi Osaka has also contributed to his stock increasing. We’re just scratching the surface for Cordae and I think he could be a great rapper in due time. He has a ton of potential.
Gunna has really come into his own in 2020. I always felt like he would fade away without Lil Baby by his side but his ‘Wunna’ project did phenomenal upon its release. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. One of the more popular artists in the game right now, I don’t see Gunna falling off anytime soon.
Tierra Whack is a good rapper but still relatively unknown. Most people don’t remember she was in the class so I don’t see her blowing up.
DaBaby is an act that’s getting old quickly. He does consistently drop music but his sound hasn’t evolved. I can see him having a Lil Pump type fall off by 2025 if not before. Not to mention the drama that he and his current girlfriend, singer DaniLeigh, are in right now will cast a negative light on him in the eyes of women. Alienating part of your fanbase isn’t a good look and may come back to bite him down the line.
Rico Nasty is someone people wanted on XXL for years. Most people felt she should’ve gotten Kamaiyah’s spot in 2017. So when it was announced she would be a part of the 2019 XXL Class, people were understandably excited. Rico Nasty has a very unique style incorporating pop and rock elements in her music. She has a strong flow and versatile delivery. She drops music often and has even broken into the fashion game. I feel because she’s constantly evolving as an artist she will have an easier route maintaining relevancy.
Blueface has the same problem other Freshmen such as Asher Roth, Ugly God, and OJ da Juiceman; he had a gimmick that got old fast. His failure to evolve resulted in his falloff music-wise. He’s still very entertaining but very few are checking for his music anymore. The offbeat sound and Crip jokes were funny at first but now it has grown stale. “Thotiana” is Blueface’s only Billboard hit, debuting at 75 in 2019. Blueface’s often delayed project, ‘Find The Beat’ did horribly and was otherwise forgettable. His time in the rap game is running out if he’s not out of time already.
When it comes to Lil Mosey, I see him turning out like YBN Nahmir. He may have a big single here and there but he’ll be irrelevant 90% of the time. He did drop “Blueberry Faygo” in February 2020 which debuted at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Mosey is only 19 so I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt but I don’t think he has a sound that will stick.
Comethazine was on the list LAST YEAR and we already stopped caring about him. He dropped a couple projects in 2020 but none did particularly well so I don’t think he’ll be relevant much longer if he’s still relevant now.
Lastly, we have YK Osiris. He’s a tricky one because he’s not a great singer but he has some good songs. I don’t see him blowing up though. I feel like people will get tired of his terrible singing and he’ll fade after time. There’s more good on this list than bad but by 2025 don’t be surprised if there are only 4 or 5 still relevant from this class.
XXL reached to both but both respectfully declined. Both of their reasons were the same, they felt like they were too far ahead in their careers for the list.
J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa, Jay Rock, Freddie Gibbs, Big Sean, Fashawn, Donnis, OJ da Juiceman, Pill, Nipsey Hussle
J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa, Jay Rock, Big Sean, Freddie Gibbs, Nipsey Hussle
Fashawn, Donnis, OJ da Juiceman, Pill
What more needs to be said about J. Cole? He’s one of the greatest rappers to ever live. Blowing up after appearing on the cover, every project J. Cole has dropped since ‘Born Sinner’, ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’, ‘4 Your Eyez Only’ and ‘KOD’ have all debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Even ‘Revenge of the Dreamers’, a compilation album from Dreamville Records debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart in 2019. J. Cole’s ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’ album is famous for going double platinum with no features. Cole would also go on to win a Grammy for Best Rap Song in 2020 alongside 21 Savage;s “A Lot”. J. Cole is the definition of success and every rapper that appears on the cover should want a career like his.
Wiz Khalifa has also reached big dawg status in the game. After being on the list, Wiz was everywhere. His first project ‘Rolling Papers’ debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and sold over 130K first week. His follow up ‘ONIFC’ did the same numbers. Khalifa is known for timeless hits “Black and Yellow’” “Work Hard, Play Hard”, “We Dem Boyz”, and “See You Again”. Wiz is still dropping music to this day, with last year’s ‘The Saga of Wiz Khalifa’.
Another gear in the TDE machine, Jay Rock has incredible backing around him. Being part of TDE, I feel Jay Rock will always maintain some element of relevancy. After collaborating with Kendrick Lamar on his project ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’, Jay Rock really came into his own in 2018. Not only was he a part of one of the biggest songs of the year in “King’s Dead” but he dropped a project of his own titled ‘Redemption.’ It’s safe to say Jay Rock is on the right path.
Big Sean has been on the upper echelon of the rap game since being on the cover. All of his albums hit mainstream success. Much like Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean did very well commercially. His debut album ‘Finally Famous’ was certified platinum. His second project ‘Hall of Fame’ went gold and his next three releases ‘Dark Sky Paradise’, ‘I Decided’, and ‘Detroit 2’ all have gone platinum as well. Having notable relationships with the likes of Ariana Grande and Jhene Aiko doesn’t hurt either.
Freddie Gibbs was a bit of a late bloomer but better late than never. After freeing himself from Young Jeezy’s CTE label in 2012, he was finally about to start seeing chart success. He would drop ‘Piñata’ in 2014 and it was met with great feedback from critics. After a brief hiatus, Gibbs saw his greatest success yet again in 2020, dropping ‘Alfredo’ with The Alchemist. It debuted at #15 on the Billboard 200 and was nominated for a Grammy. He also announced that he had signed a new record deal with Warner Brothers last year. Equipped with great rapping skill and uncanny charisma, this is only the beginning for Freddie Gibbs.
The late Nipsey Hussle is another case of a late bloomer. He originally wanted Victory Lap to be a mixtape but decided to make it an album. After numerous delays, his debut album released in 2018—doing extremely well, selling 53k in its first week and debuting at #4 on the Billboard 200 chart. Victory Lap was nominated for a Grammy in 2019 but would lose to Cardi B’s ‘Invasion of Privacy.’ He would win Grammys for two songs, “Racks in the Middle” and “Higher”. Unfortunately, tragedy would strike in the middle of his rise as the 33-year-old was gunned down in front of his Marathon clothing store in March 2019. The legacy Nipsey left behind is bigger than his music. He was a phenomenal human being who did a lot putting on for his Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles. His greater impact was felt as the world mourned Nipsey erecting numerous murals across the country in his honor. Fellow L.A. native, former Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook would achieve a 20 point-20 rebound-20 assist game to honor Hussle—an ode to the rapper’s Rollin’ 60s Crip set he belonged to. Despite a slow start to his career, Nipsey is undoubtedly one of the greatest success stories in XXL history. He will be missed by many!
Fashawn is otherwise forgettable. He’s only released one project since appearing on XXL, ‘The Ecology’ in 2015. He didn’t live up to his cover appearance and hasn’t released any music in years.
Donnis didn’t do much better either. Aside from having a notably bad XXL freestyle, he hasn’t dropped a project since 2012. Yes, you read that right, 2012—9 years ago. I don’t even think he makes music anymore as there is no record of any music being released since 2017.
If you don’t know who Pill is, I don’t blame you. He had quickly slipped to irrelevancy only a year after being on the cover and then decided to take a 6-year hiatus. When he came back in 2018, he finally dropped something but the public didn’t seem to care.
Last—and arguably least—is OJ da Juiceman. Owner of easily, the WORST XXL freestyle in history—and the shortest, lasting 11 seconds.
What the hell was XXL thinking? No one could take this man seriously in rap after that freestyle. If it wasn’t for ‘Shawt Bus Shawty’ I don’t think anyone would know who this guy is. Much like Ugly God and some other rappers on here, I feel like OJ was made to be a joke. There’s no way XXL thought this guy was the future of hip hop. This class had a lot of good and some bad. Not really any middle ground.
Nicki stated in an interview that she and Drake love XXL but felt like they missed an opportunity by not putting them in the 2009 Class. She felt like they had graduated from the list by then. One of the biggest missed opportunities for XXL ever. Imagine turning down Drake and Nicki Minaj for Blu, Mickey Factz and Charles Hamilton.
Joey Bada$$, Schoolboy Q, Trinidad Jame$, Logic, Dizzy Wright, Angel Haze, Travis Scott, Kirko Bangz, Logic, Action Bronson, Ab-Soul, Chief Keef
Joey Bada$$, Schoolboy Q, Travis Scott, Logic, Chief Keef
Action Bronson, Dizzy Wright, Ab-Soul
Angel Haze, Trinidad Jame$
Joey Bada$$ is one of the more underrated artists in the rap game. His 2012 mixtape ‘1999’ is considered by many to be a classic. Although a highly sought after artist, Joey opted to stay independent for now. After appearing on the cover, he would drop ‘B4.AD.$$’ in 2015. The album was met with great acclaim from critics. In early 2017, he would drop ‘All AmeriKKan Bada$$’ with the hit song ‘Devastated’ reaching certified gold status. He’s not only written songs for other artists, he’s featured on tracks with artists such as Logic, XXXTentacion and T-Pain. A phenomenal lyricist, Joey Bada$$ will be here for a while.
Trinidad Jame$ had “All Gold Everything” and that was all. The epitome of a one hit wonder.
Schoolboy Q, another TDE member, has made some serious noise after being on the cover. He signed with Interscope Records in 2012 and released his debut album, ‘Oxymoron’ a year later. Debuting at #1 on Billboard, the project included hits like “Studio”, “Collard Greens” and “Man of the Year”. In 2016, he released “That Part” featuring Kanye West as the lead single to his ‘Blank Face’ LP. He also released an album titled ‘Crash Talk’ in 2019 after delaying it in due to the death of his close friend and frequent collaborator, Mac Miller. As an act consistently dropping music and diversifying his sound, Q will always have a place in the spotlight throughout his career.
Kirko Bangz was not an artist from this class that was able to stay too long in the spotlight. He blew up with “Drank in my Cup” in 2011 but not much has hit after that—another one-hit wonder.
Action Bronson is a good rapper, he just doesn’t do much rapping nowadays, having branched out into TV and film. He’s dropped 4 projects since being on the cover but none managed to land at a respectable spot on Billboard. He did, however, lose over 120 pounds in December 2020, so he has that going for him too.
Angel Haze is another example of ‘blink and you miss it’. She would drop her debut project ‘Dirty Gold’ in 2013 and well……(crickets). She had very low first-week output selling just over 500 copies. In 2015, she dropped ‘Back to the Woods’ also to limited response from the fans. She hasn’t released any music as of 2017.
Dizzy Wright looked like he had some promise signing to Hopsin’s ‘Funk Volume’ label in 2011. He would release a project titled ‘State of Mind’ in 2015 and it would debut at #54 on the Billboard 200 chart. But when ‘Funk Volume’ disbanded, Wright fell out of the public eye. He still makes music even dropping a project in 2020 but not many seem to be checking for him nowadays.
Ab-Soul is an extremely talented rapper. Being part of TDE, the opportunities will always be there for Ab-Soul, being able to tour and feature with the likes of Kendrick, Q, Jay Rock and Isaiah Rashad. Since being on the cover, he would drop a project called ‘These Days’ which would debut at #11 on the Billboard 200 chart and received great reviews and praise. His 2016 release ‘Do What Thou Wilt’ would feature on The Black Panther soundtrack alongside Anderson .Paak and James Blake on the song ‘Bloody Waters.’ Soul announced he would release ‘Untitled Album’ in 2021.
Logic is one of the bigger artists on this list. Before he began reminding everyone that he was biracial every week, he was an up-and-coming rapper on the rise. Since being on the cover, he would drop 6 projects with ‘Under Pressure’ and ‘The Incredible True Story’ debuting on the Billboard 200 chart at #4 and #3, respectively. But it wasn’t until 2017 where Logic would truly rise to superstardom. His ‘Everybody’ project debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, sold 196,000 first-week and had the hit lead single “1-800-273-8255” —best known as the National Suicide Prevention hotline number. The song would also feature Alessia Cara and Khalid, reach #3 on the Billboard 100, and reach 5-times platinum. Logic would follow this up with ‘Young Sinatra IV’ in 2018 and ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’ in 2019; which would include the single “Homicide” featuring Eminem. In 2020, Logic announced that his next album, ‘No Pressure’ would be his last. He was retiring to focus on being more on fatherhood. Logic has achieved a career that most rappers would be envious of—XXL got this one right.
Chief Keef was so influential that XXL put him on the 2013 cover while he was incarcerated. Keef burst into the scene with “Don’t Like” which caught the attention of Kanye West, who remixed it. He would later sign with Interscope Records and drop his classic project ‘Finally Rich’. Keef has gone on to influence not only mumble rap but much of the Drill scene we see in hip-hop today. Other rappers such as Young Thug, NBA Youngboy, Lil Uzi Vert, Juice WRLD and XXXTentacion have named Chief Keef as an influence which is crazy considering Chief Keef is still only 25 years old. He blew up at 16, and change the way the rap game is. Chief Keef is a legend in hip hop.
Finally, we have arguably the most popular artist on this cover, Travis Scott. Since being on the cover, Travis has had a meteoric rise. He released ‘Days Before Rodeo’ and ‘Rodeo’ in 2014 and 2015. ‘Rodeo’ was led by Travis’ lead hit single “Antidote”— which launched him into mainstream fame. The following year, he would release his first Billboard 200 chart-topper, ‘Birds in the Trap Sing Brian McKnight.’ In 2018, Travis reached the top of the game with his project, ‘Astroworld.’ The project received a huge amount of radio play and was very well received. The hit single, “Sicko Mode” became Travis’ first #1 Billboard Hot 100 song. He would follow this up with ‘JACKBOYS.’ project which made history as It the first #1 album of the new decade. He would go on to make more history becoming the first artist to have three songs at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in less than a year. He’s one of the very best in the game and easily one of XXL’s biggest hits ever.
Kendrick Lamar, YG, Mac Miller(RIP), Yelawolf, Lil B, Lil Twist, CyHi The Prynce, Meek Mill, Fred Da Godson, Diggy Simmons, Big K.R.I.T
Kendrick Lamar, Meek Mill, Mac Miller, YG, Big K.R.I.T
Lil B, CyHi The Prynce, Yelawolf
Lil Twist, Fred Da Godson, Diggy Simmons
Kendrick Lamar is considered to be arguably the best rapper to ever appear on XXL. Constantly in talks with J. Cole about being the best rapper in the game today, it’s easy to say K Dot has exceeded the expectations set before him. Kendrick is widely considered one of the most influential artists and one of the greatest lyricists of all-time. The face of the TDE label and collective, Kendrick was launched into superstardom when he released 2012’s ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.’ The album received unbelievable praise and is considered one of the greatest albums in hip-hop history. Snubbed of a Grammy in 2012, the album would debut at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Selling 242,000 in its first week, it only needed 9 months to reach platinum status. In 2013, Kendrick hopped on Big Sean’s single “Control” and delivered one of the most memorable verses in rap. Notorious for his direct calling out by name of fellow emcees he deemed rivals, he vowed to murder every up-and-coming rapper, and put a target on his back by calling himself the “King of New York”. Kendrick’s following rose astronomically after this. He would follow it up by dropping the jazzy, soul-infused project ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ in March 2015. Not only did the album debut at #1 on the Billboard 200, but it also sold 325,000 copies in its first week—breaking Spotify’s first-week streaming record at 9.6 million in the process. The album would earn Kendrick 5 Grammys later that year. 2017’s ‘DAMN’ would also debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart—making this his third album in a row to do so. The lead single, “Humble” would reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and be Kendrick’s first #1 hit as a lead artist. Kendrick would also work on The Black Panther soundtrack and collaborate on the mega-hit, “King’s Dead”. As of 2018, Kendrick has also dabbled in acting appearing on the hit TV series, ‘Power.’ One of the greatest ever, Kendrick Lamar is what every XXL Freshman should want to be.
Meek Mill has also emerged as a top dog from this list. Meek rose to prominence with 2012’s ‘Dreams and Nightmares’ which gave him the hype to be on the list. Songs like “Amen” and “Dreams and Nightmares” are some of the most memorable tracks of the decade. After being on the list, Meek would drop ‘Dreams Worth More Than Money’ in 2014 which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. It also sold 215,000 in its first week. Meek would release projects such as ‘DC4’, ‘Wins and Losses’ and ‘Championships’ in the following years—all of which have performed well on the charts. He would enter a feud with Drake in 2015 after accusing the Canadian star of ghostwriting. Drake would respond with diss tracks such as “Charged Up” and “Back to Back”. In 2018, they ended their beef and collaborated on the hit song, “Going Bad” from Meek’s ‘Championships’ album. The song peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100, Meek’s highest-charting single. Other noteworthy moments of his career would be his relationship with fellow rapper Nicki Minaj and jail time he served in 2017 for violating probation. The violation which many felt was controversial and unnecessary led to a public campaign from the Philadelphia 76ers, the Philadelphia Eagles, and Jay Z—among others. He was granted an appeal and was released in 2019. Meek Mill is still one of the most popular artists in the game and definitely was a good choice for XXL.
Lil Twist is about as forgettable as forgettable gets. Lil Wayne, the label head, had some hits—Drake and Nicki Minaj most notably— but he also had some misses, and Lil Twist was a big one. He’s only dropped 3 mixtapes in the last decade and none of them have stood out.
Diggy Simmons also had a very short musical shelf life. Although it’s not as bad as Lil Twist, he didn’t do much better. He released 2 projects in 10 years and one of them was for the show, Empire.
Yelawolf is someone who has released plenty of music since being on the cover but he’s just been so-so at best in terms of his career. Since being on the cover, he’s dropped 4 projects including 2 in 2019 but alas, no one cared. While he’s not extremely irrelevant, he is irrelevant in a mainstream sense.
YG has only increased in popularity since being on the list. Not only did he come up with the ‘Toot It And Boot It’ dance, but he would also release his hit single, “My N****a” in 2013. The song did very well, peaking at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. His debut, ‘My Krazy Life’ would drop the following year and received much praise. 2016’s feature on Jeremih’s “Don’t Tell Em’” would also earn him a top-10 placement on the Billboard Hot 100. His 2018 output, ‘Stay Dangerous’ and its single “Big Bank” would be the Compton rapper’s highest solo charting song. YG is doing pretty well for himself and remaining relevant.
Big K.R.I.T had a very strong start with his first two projects ‘Live From The Underground’ and ‘Cadillactica’ both having great chart success with each reaching #5 on the Billboard 200. After a bit of a hiatus, he released his project ‘4eva Is A Mighty Long Time’—which debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200. He’s a great rapper that has lived up to his XXL billing.
Fred Da Godson never really got off the ground on the mainstream sense after being on the cover but was a respected lyricist throughout the New York underground scene. Unfortunately, he contracted COVID-19 and would pass away from the disease in April 2020 at the age of 35. He left behind a wife and two daughters. May he continue to rest in peace.
CyHi the Prynce is another one who didn’t really do too much. Everything I said about Yelawolf pretty much applies to him as well. After 2012, people just stopped looking for these rappers. CyHi hasn’t dropped anything since his debut album released in 2017. Apparently, he had label issues to deal with but that’s no excuse. Come on man, you were a Freshman in 2011 and it took 6 years for your first project? That about wraps this up, doesn’t it?
No disrespect intended to the BasedGod, but many are gonna wonder why Lil B is a meh instead of a hit. Lil B is extremely influential and entertaining. My problem is that he hasn’t done anything in years. I do believe he added versatility to the genre infusing elements of new age and indie rock to mainstream rap. Lil B is kinda like the Dougie, most people know what it is and can do it but then it reminds you how old the dance is. Since being on the cover, he’s cursed out NBA superstars Kevin Durant and James Harden, got into an altercation with A Boogie wit da Hoodie and PnB Rock, and became a motivational speaker. Although he’s not as super prominent as before, you never know when you’re gonna hear from Lil B The BasedGod next. If he reads this, please don’t curse me, I think you’re an underrated lyricist and I’m a fan.
Finally, we have Mac Miller. From the very beginning, it appeared Mac Miller was going to be a star. He had 2 incredible mixtapes before appearing on the list, with ‘K.I.D.S’ and ‘Best Day Ever’ making him an easy choice for the list. Aside from having one of the best XXL cyphers of all time, he would continue his amazing chart success.
His first album ‘Blue Slide Park’ would debut atop the Billboard 200 chart and sell 144,000 first week. 2015’s ‘GO:OD AM’ reached #4 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold. Mac showed his versatility on his 2016 project ‘The Divine Feminine’ infusing R&B, jazz, and funk vibes. It would debut at #2 on the Billboard 200 and #1 in the Hip Hop/R&B charts. Miller would achieve even more success with 2018’s ‘Swimming.’ It was nominated for a Grammy and debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200. The Pittsburgh native had a long history of substance abuse and it would eventually take his life in September 2018. In 2020, Miller’s family released his first posthumous project, ‘Circles’. The album sold 166,000 first week, the highest of his career. Mac was also known for his brief romance with singer Ariana Grande and his hatred for former President Donald Trump. Mac Miller will always be remembered for his chill vibes, infectious smile, and superb rapping ability. Rest In Peace Mac Miller. We miss you.
Felt like he was too big for the list and declined.
Denzel Curry, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, Kodak Black, Desiigner, Anderson .Paak, Lil Dicky, G Herbo, Dave East
Denzel Curry, Lil Uzi Vert, Kodak Black, Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, G Herbo, Anderson .Paak,
Lil Dicky, Dave East, Desiigner
This class is the best class XXL has ever featured. Everyone in this class achieved some sort of success at some point. A lot of rap’s biggest stars emerge from this class. Commercially, no other class compares—and many people cite this class as XXL’s last good class.
Denzel Curry has released plenty of music since being on the cover. He burst onto the scene with his song “Ultimate” as it went viral online. He released ‘Imperial’ in 2016 but it wasn’t until 2018 when Curry would drop his biggest project ‘Ta13oo.’ Songs like “Sumo”, “Clout Cobain” and “Percs” did very well on streaming services. In my opinion, this was one of the top albums of 2018. Curry would drop ‘Zuu’ and ‘Unlocked’ in 2019 and 2020 as follow-ups to his acclaimed album. Denzel Curry is still very relevant in 2021.
Lil Uzi Vert is one of the biggest stars to ever appear on XXL. Success follows Lil Uzi wherever he goes. He burst onto the scene with “Money Longer” the lead single on his debut, ‘Lil Uzi vs the World’. That would prove to be a great year for Uzi as he would drop ‘LUV is Rage’ later in the year and both 2016 projects were certified gold. The very next year, Uzi would feature with the Migos on their hit song, “Bad and Boujee.” The single topped the Billboard Hot 100, a first for Lil Uzi. Later that year, Uzi would drop his smash hit single “XO Tour Lif3”—it debuted on the Hot 100 at #49 and peaked at #7. The song was certified 6-time platinum as of the summer of 2018. Uzi would run into trouble releasing music due to issues with DJ Drama and Don Cannon but he faced little reprecussions thanks to the solid fanbase he had already amassed. After multiple delays, Uzi dropped ‘LUV is Rage 2’ and it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and sold 135,000 first week. It has since been certified platinum and has 10 Billboard Hot 100 singles on it. In 2019, Uzi signed with Roc Nation and would drop 2 singles, “That’s a Rack” and “Sanguine Paradise”. In early 2020, Uzi would drop ‘Eternal Atake’ after months of teasing and it did unbelievably well selling 288,000 first week. Uzi would also drop a collaboration with Future at the end of the year, ‘Pluto x Baby Pluto’—which would peak at #2 on the Billboard 200. Lil Uzi Vert has an incredibly strong fanbase and has a very entertaining personality. This man had a $24M pink diamond implanted in his forehead, he’s ballin’ big time.
Desiigner had one of the biggest rises and falls I’ve ever seen. In 2015, Desiigner was signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music imprint and subsequently release the single “Panda”. The single would reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and would be multi-platinum. Desiigner then followed it up with the single “Tiimmy Turner’ which went gold. That’s pretty much it for Desiigner. He had a unique sound, high-energy, and creative ad-libs. He had a ton of potential but label issues allegedly kept pushing his projects back. Desiigner would drop ‘New English’ in late 2016 on Tidal but it didn’t do too well. As of 2019, he’s an independent artist. No one is really checking for Desiigner nowadays and he hasn’t done anything impressive since 2017.
Lil Dicky kinda had the same problem Goldlink did. He’s only had one major song in the last 5 or so years. But the reason he’s a meh, unlike Goldlink, is because Lil Dicky is more than just a rapper. He has a TV show and it’s debatable as to if he was ever really a super-serious rapper. In 2018, he released his biggest song “Freaky Friday” featuring Chris Brown. The music video would reach over 100M views on YouTube and would chart in numerous countries. In May 2020, Lil Dicky’s show Dave was renewed for a second season. Lil Dicky is a great rapper, he’s just focused on other things.
Anderson .Paak has turned in a very successful career since being on the list. His debut project ‘Malibu’ received extreme praise. Anderson would go on to do theTiny Desk series. and according to NPR, his performance is one of its most popular episodes. 2018’s ‘Oxnard’, which was produced by Dr. Dre, featured a heavy funky theme and included guest appearances from Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg. The following year, he released ‘Ventura’ which had features from Smokey Robinson, Brandy, Andre 3000, and the late Nate Dogg. Anderson has worked with some of the best in the business. A three-time Grammys winner—one for Best Rap Performance for his song “Bubblin”, one for Best R&B Album for ‘Ventura’, and the last for Best R&B Performance alongside Andre 3000 for their hit, “Come Home”—Anderson .Paak is at the top of his game.
Many felt G Herbo should’ve been a 2015 Freshmen—myself included—but he’s been extremely consistent in dropping music since making the list. He would drop projects ‘Humble Beast’ and ‘Swervo’ in the following years. While his follow-up ‘Still Swervin’ didn’t do as well as their predecessors, it did crack the Top 50 on the charts. In 2020, G Herbo had his biggest success yet with ‘PTSD’ which would debut at #7 on the Billboard charts and have features from the likes of Chance the Rapper, BJ the Chicago Kid, and Lil Durk. G Herbo is also known for his VERY PUBLIC split with social media star, Ariana “Ari” Fletcher. Music-wise, G Herbo has yet to reach his peak and he is still very relevant in today’s music.
Lil Yachty, also known as Lil Boat, has also been very consistent in dropping music since the cover. After having mainstream success with projects like ‘Lil Boat’ and ‘Summer Songs 2’, Lil Boat built up a loyal fanbase. 2016 was a very big year for Yachty, landing a guest verse on singles such as “Broccoli” with D.R.A.M and “iSpy” with Kyle. In 2017, Lil Boat would drop ‘Teenage Emotions’ which would flop tremendously and naturally met with mixed to negative reviews. In 2018, Lil Boat would drop, ‘Lil Boat 2’ and ‘Nuthin 2 Prove’ which both fared much better than his previous outing. Finally, in 2020, he would release ‘Lil Boat 3’ with lead single “Oprah’s Bank Account” with Drake and DaBaby. Aside from music, Lil Boat has amassed a great marketing presence brand reaching deals with Nautica, Sprite, Target, and Urban Outfitters. Even though I feel he’s taken a step back musically, his name is still as big as ever.
Dave East has also branched out after being on the cover. In 2017, he began acting and would drop a project that would peak at #9 on the Billboard 200 titled ‘Paranoia: A True Story.’ In 2019, he released, ‘Survival’ and it would find great charting success, peaking at #11 on the Billboard 200 chart. Much like Lil Dicky, he’s blown up more thanks to his foray into acting—playing Method Man for Hulu series about the Wu-Tang Clan.
Next, we have Mr. “Who tf picked this little sawwy ass beat?” himself, Kodak Black. One of the most polarizing rappers to ever be featured on XXL, Kodak has a wild story. He’s extremely popular but it seems as if he often gets in his own way. Reminds me a lot of the NFL’s Josh Gordon. After being on the cover, Kodak would drop his lead single “Tunnel Vision” which would debut at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100 and peak at #6. He would release his debut album, ‘Painting Pictures’ weeks later to great success. It sold 71,000 first week and reached #3 on the Billboard 200. His next outing ‘Project Baby 2’ album would peak at #52 on the Billboard 200. Crime would follow Kodak throughout his career being arrested every year since 2015. December 2018’s ‘Dyin to Love’ and its single “Zeze” was massively popular—peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The project as a whole also did well, reaching #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and was on the chart for 15 weeks. While incarcerated on a firearms charge, he would release ‘Bill Israel’ in 2020. Former President Donald Trump would pardon Kodak Black at the end of his term commuting the Florida emcee’s sentence although he still faces an allegation in South Carolina for sexual assault. Kodak is wildly popular and has a massive fanbase but frequent trips to prison will only halt his momentum. Nevertheless, he’s more popular than ever.
Finally, we have Sir Savage the 21st. In my opinion, 21 Savage has had the biggest growth of all on the list. He’s grown as an artist and a person. After being on the list, 21 and Metro Boomin would collaborate on his first project, ‘Savage Mode.’ It did very well peaking at #23 on the Billboard 200 with single “X” going platinum. In 2017, he dropped ‘Issa’ with lead single “Bank Account” peaking at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Later in the year, he would feature on Post Malone’s “Rockstar” which went #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, giving 21 his first #1 song. The following year, 21 would collaborate again with Metro Boomin and this time with Offset to release ‘Without Warning.’ Later that year, 21 would release a great project, ‘I am > I was.’ earning 21 Savage a Grammy for the song “A Lot”. In 2019, 21 was arrested by ICE and detained when it was revealed that he was actually born in London. In 2020, 21 and Metro would drop ‘Savage Mode II’ and the project would peak at #1 on the Billboard 200 and have two top-10 singles. 21 is someone who proved my initial thoughts about him wrong by continuing to evolve and grow in his popularity.
Post Malone didn’t want to be just limited to hip hop so he declined the list. Tory Lanez felt he was beyond the list hence why he declined.