— XXL Magazine (@XXL) June 13, 2017'
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It's become unclear to me if the XXL Freshman List is for artists who are popular right now or those who we should be on the look out for right now. So as an avid lover of all sides of hip-hop—old, new, underground, and everything in between here's a list of popular and underground rappers whose grind isn't going unnoticed!
Let me be completely transparent, there's no way you can have a Freshman Cover without having Cardi B on the list. Not only has she gone from Instagram to Love and Hip Hop: NY to the Summer Jam stage, her latest project GBMV2 has solidified her place in the hip-hop scene today. Though it's possible she could've turned down being on the cover, let's not front like she doesn't have any hits under her belt. With "Lick" featuring her rumored boo, Offset of Migos, at 1.2 Million listens on Soundcloud and her lasted single "Pull Up" gaining popularity, it's clear that Cardi will be around for a long time.
While the Bronx rapper is busy sharing stages with Remy Ma, Lil Kim, and Queen Latifah, listen to her latest project, GBV2 below.
With no label, no manager, and no problem selling out a show, Princess Nokia is a one woman army. Though she's been on the scene since 2010, her album 1992 put on the map and brought the attention of many. Princess Nokia was nominated for the 10th slot of the Freshman List, but she's not letting the snubs top her shine.
The "Tomboy" rapper is currently embarking on her summer world tour before re-releasing 1992 with additional tracks. Listen to the tape below.
Before you judge, just hear me out.This Chicago rapper has been on her grind since 2012. Her hyper-sexual lyrics are no different than what you hear today from your favorite rapper and no different than what we used to hear from the likes of Trina or Khia. CupcakKe's mixtapes, Cum Cake and S.T.D., respectively made The Rolling Stone's "Best Rap Album of 2016" and "40 Best Rap Albums" list.
With the recent release of her album, Queen Elizabitch, the 20-year old rapper is currently hitting festival stages like Gov Ball with Charlie XCX to perform their collab, "Lipgloss." Take a listen to her mixtape, S.T.D. below:Kelow LaTesha
Prince George County's very own Kelow has been holding it down since 2012. Using her lyrics to not only to help express herself but to also turn up, Kelow has been featured on tracks with Goldlink and featured Lil Uzi Vert on the remix to her hit, "Finna."Flight Attendant
After working with artists like Chance The Rapper, Mick Jenkins, and many more, Noname finally dropped her debut, Telefone. Since its release, Noname has been spitting her poetic flows and selling out shows all over the country.
If you've been sleeping, wake up and listen to the Chicago native's critically acclaimed mixtape, Telefone below:
If you've been following the rap scene this year, then you've definitely heard of the latest rapper coming out of St. Louis, Smino. His debut album, blkswn, featured appearances from Rayvn Lenae, theMind and many more.
If you're into more of a soulful sound when it comes to your rap, you'll definitely want to check out blkswn below:
Back in March, the 25-year old rapper dropped Silent Waves to prove that he's here to stay. Take a listen below.
One of New York's most promising artists is a 21-year-old Brooklyn native by the name of Jimi Tents. The rapper has been bubbling on the scene since the release of his debut project, 5'O Clock Shadow. Influenced by the gentrification in his neighborhood and inspired by greats like OutKast, his second project, I Can't Go Home, proves that Jimi is one to keep your eye on.
New Jersey rapper and NYU grad, Topaz Jones deserved a spot on the XXL Freshman list for his critically acclaimed mixtape, ARCADE. Fusing his soulful raps over melodic, fresh, and bounce-filled production, his standout tracks "Motion Sickness," and "Winona" can be played anywhere from the cookout, to a block party, and has even been heard on the runway.
Listen to ARCADE below: