Welp, looks like XXL finally announced their 2016 Freshman Class. Fake lists were leaked and, as always, speculation about who would be chosen or snubbed abounded, but the final 10 freshmen (thankfully, they didn’t tack on any extras this year) have been revealed via the newest issue’s cover. Back on April Fool’s Day, I made my predictions as to who the 10 picks would be (and no, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke). Now, more than two months later, they’re here; let’s compare and contrast and see how I did, shall we?
1. ANDERSON .PAAK – CORRECT
Some may have doubted the Cali rapper/singer’s chances to make this cover, but he was a shoe-in to me. His Malibu album has been celebrated by critics from every walk of life, and his multifaceted live show is next level. Also, that Dr. Dre cosign certainly helped his buzz out. Probably the most deserving freshman as far as pure talent, to me.
2. BRYSON TILLER – INCORRECT
OK, so Tiller isn’t on the cover, but I’m about 137% sure he was selected, since his buzz is fucking massive right now, doing tracks with the Weeknd and allegedly being offered deals by Drake. XXL undoubtedly offered him a spot, and like Drizzy and numerous others before him, Tiller probably turned it down. Let’s be real, he doesn’t need it. Still, woulda been nice if he didn’t fuck up my clairvoyant status when it comes to predictions…
3. DESIIGNER – CORRECT
This was another prediction that many doubted, understandably; the kid has ONE song out. But, more so than ever before (for better or for worse), popularity in music is based more around singles than projects/bodies of work. “Panda” is a smash hit like no smash hit we’ve heard in a long time. The fact that it’s stayed on the charts, in the clubs and in so many peoples’ heads for so long is remarkable. Being signed to G.O.O.D. Music isn’t hurting Desiigner either, of course. It remains to be seen if he can keep this momentum going, but for now, enjoy the Freshman cover, buddy.
4. G HERBO – CORRECT
I admit I was kind of on the fence for this one, although I’ve been pulling for Herbo (formerly Lil’ Herb) since I first heard him a couple years ago. The kid raps well, his voice is gritty as hell, he has an arsenal of cool-sounding cadences, and his beat selection bangs. I just wasn’t sure if he’d make the cover (finally) this year, due to the lack of a breakout single, but here he is. Congrats, homie.
5. KODAK BLACK – CORRECT
This kid’s buzz is pretty damn crazy, even if it’s not really all generated by just his music. There’s a Bobby Shmurda-like appeal a teenager getting in so much trouble with the law has to young people, and the 19-year-old Kodak is living proof of that. His crudely-edited YouTube videos (via WorldStarHipHop most of the time) all have high view counts, no matter the reason people watch them, so it’s no shocker he made the class.
6. LIL’ DICKY – CORRECT
This was a gimme. The whole “token white guy” thing aside (don’t act like that’s not a thing when they pick these classes), Dicky has had a monster year. Number one debut album, smash single with Fetty Wap on the hook, and one of the most talked-about live shows in rap. Whether you like his goofy ass or not, he’s earned this spot.
7. LIL’ UZI VERT – CORRECT
Also a gimme, and not just ’cause I’m from the 215. Uzi’s rise to fame has been crazy to watch, and pretty damn fast. The kid is selling out large-scale venues, doing songs with Young Thug and Wiz Khalifa, and has evolved into quite a live performer.
8. MONTANA OF 300 – INCORRECT
This is the only “incorrect” prediction I’ll own up to really being wrong about. Montana would have filled the “who the hell is that? Oh damn, he can really rap” slot, which has instead been filled by New York spitter Dave East, which I’m not mad at. Montana still has a bright future ahead regardless.
9. POST MALONE – INCORRECT
C’mon bruh; you know they offered him a spot. The kid is on tour with Justin fucking Bieber. It’s the same story as Tiller here, most likely. Either that or Dicky already filled the position. Kidding, kidding…kinda…
10. TORY LANEZ – INCORRECT
Alright now, there’s documented proof I was right about this one. XXL picked Tory, as they should have, since he’s crushing it this year with pop and street singles, and probably the best live show in rap at the moment. But he turned it down, most likely because he felt that they should’ve picked him a couple years ago (even though he didn’t have a number one single and sold out tour back then). It’s his prerogative though;like Tiller, it’s not like he needs it.
So, technically I got 6 out of 10 predictions correct, but on the real though, since Tiller, Post and Tory Lanez were all offered spots, I only got one wrong. And other than Dave East (whom I’m happy for, but still a bit surprised by), the other guys who got picked all make sense to me and were my “almost but not quite” selections. Lil’ Yachty‘s buzz just keeps climbing amongst young crowds, same with 21 Savage. And Denzel Curry is doing tracks with names like Rick Ross now, as well as consistently making good music, so it’s not surprising he made it either.
Overall, the 2016 Freshman Class is not a bad one, but it could’ve used a bit more diversity. Outside of Anderson .Paak, Dicky and Dave East, the more lyric-focused artists were a bit drowned out by the new wave of melodically-focused who primarily rhyme on trap production. G Herbo and Denzel Curry can rap their asses off, but rappers with the sound of drill/trap production definitely outweighed those who experiment a bit more on this list. But hey, that’s what’s “lit” with the kids right now, right? Keep the vibes wavy AF, bros…or whatever.