Every year, rappers battle it out with the hopes of landing a spot on XXL‘s Freshman issue. The theme for 2018 was all about clout so, as expected, most of the rappers possess huge followings on social media. This year’s finalists were Lil Pump, Smokepurpp, YBN Nahmir, Ski Mask The Slump God, Stefflon Don, Wifisfuneral, BlocBoy JB, J.I.D, and Trippie Redd. As previously reported, there are only nine artists because Lil Skies declined to participate.
Last year’s Freshman class was arguably the most unrecognizable lineup yet with newcomers like Aminé, KYLE and Kamaiyah. In the event that you’re not already following the breakout rappers on the latest cover, we’ve provided a guide right here. Scroll down and get to know this year’s ‘XXL Freshman’.
The UK has been having a moment of recognition in rap right now. The inclusion of this particular MC is a huge deal not only because she’s representing for all the women world wide, but she’s the first ever British rapper to get an XXL cover. The 26-year-old has been grinding since 2013, but got her big break in 2016 after dropping the Real Ting Mixtape. She’s collaborated with artists like Skepta, Jeremih, Big Sean, Halsey, Mabel and RAYE.
The “Gucci Gang” leader honestly needs no introduction – by now, you should know everything about this 17 year-old from Miami. His 2017 hit single peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. If you weren’t already aware, he’s also a huge fan of Miranda Cosgrove. So far, he has only put out his self-titled album, but expect more material from him soon because he’s been trickling out some new singles.
At only 18 years-old, this Alabama rapper with a Bay Area flow is a Worldstar favorite. He only has a few songs to his name, but he’s made a lasting impression on his peers, with artists like Vince Staples making freestyles of his hits. He recently made his late-night television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
Last year, this Florida rapper put his hometown of Palm Beach on the map when he dropped his debut album Boy Who Cried Wolf. The 21 year-old is associated with the recent rise of emo rap, as his material often focuses on dark subjects like depression, death, and drug abuse. Some of his musical influences include Eminem, Three 6 Mafia, Gucci Mane and MF DOOM. He recently released another project titled Ethernet.
Ski Mask The Slump God
Another Florida native, this 22 year-old racks up streaming numbers. Last month, he dropped his long awaited mixtape Beware The Book Of Eli. He’s also about to embark on his first world tour.
This Chicago by way of Florida rapper is viewed as a prominent figure in the SoundCloud rap scene for his earlier work as a producer. Last year, he released his debut mixtape Deadstar through Twitter. A few months ago, he teamed up with OVO-approved producer Murda Beatz on the project Bless Yo Trap.
Last month, this Memphis rapper dropped his seventh mixtape Simi, which included star-studded features from Drake, 21 Savage, Lil Pump and YG. He recently made a special guest appearance on Rico Nasty’s fire mixtape Nasty.
Atlanta has been a cultural hub for hip-hop since the beginning of time and this rapper is making a name for himself within the scene. He is currently signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records, on which he released his debut album, The Never Story just last year.
Ohio has a new sheriff in town and his name is Trippie Redd. The 18-year-old made a splash in 2017 with A Love Letter To You and has worked with Travis Scott, Rich Brian, Baauer, Diplo, Bali Baby and more. He recently collaborated with Julia Michaels on her single “Jump”. Despite his successful stride to stardom, the rapper has been no stranger to controversy after previously feuding with 6ix9ine and XXXTentacion along with a recent arrest for aggravated assault and battery.
In related news, Stefflon Don cranks up the heat in her new music video for “Senseless”.