10/10 Would Listen: XXL Freshman Class Top 10
A cut from each talent on the conversation-starting list.
Each year, hip hop/street bible XXL Magazine selects ten up-and-coming rappers that their team believes are defining the new era of hip hop. Controversially, in the past some artists that have gone on to become really successful have turned down the list - while the front is that they don't want the pressure to perform after being included, the understanding is that many think its gimmicky and not an accurate prediction of a long-lasting career in rap - A$AP Rocky turned down the 2012 cover, and Drake and Earl Sweatshirt have also declined in the past - all hugely successful rappers. But the list always gets attention - whether you like the selections or you think there's hotter rising artists out there, it's always a great conversation starter amongst friends who love rap (and not a bad sales ploy by XXL, given it gets everyone talking!).
Today XXL released their 2015 list, along with their annual, high school style group photoshoot for the mag's summer issue. The 10 MCs in the 2015 XXL Freshman Class are Vince Staples, Fetty Wap, Dej Loaf, Raury, K Camp, OG Maco, Shy Glizzy, GoldLink, Kidd Kidd (the fan vote) and Tink. We're pretty in agreement with the names here, so we thought we'd use it as an opportunity to reflect back on some essential cuts from each of these MCs - these songs can function as an introduction for those who aren't up to date, and for those who are, a celebration of the good stuff.
Tinashe feat. Dej Loaf - All Hands on Deck (Remix)
Her recent duet with The Game was pretty damn sexy, but we're going to roll with something even more recent - last week's guest spot on the remix for Tinashe's All Hands On Deck.
Fetty Wap - Promises (prod. Dubbel Dutch + Baauer)
Underground hit Trap Queen got New Jersey newcomer Fetty onto the list, but features like this one, that he worked on for adidas and Yours Truly's Songs From Scratch series, show he's bubbling up something fierce. That and, the Drake co-sign.
Vince Staples - Señorita
Not long now until understated street rapper / trap leaner Vince Staples drops his highly-anticipated debut album, Summertime '06, on Def Jam. The Long Beach MC's recent track Señorita demonstrates him at his unflashy, restrained best - love the combination of the menacing piano in Christian Rich's chilly production and Staples' seething spitfire.
Raury - God's Whisper
Atlanta's Raury (perhaps you caught him at Laneway Festival earlier in the year?) had a massive 2014 - the 19 year-old appeared on SBTRKT's sophomore album, pricked up Andre 3000's ears (and has been compared to him in terms of uniqueness), and put out his debut mixtape Indigo Child to a decent response. He's got that one of a kind, 'ain't heard this before' appeal that Kid Cudi or Childish Gambino had before him, and the way the kid brings indie / folk music into the mix is pretty great. Non-agressive, uplifting, epicly fresh rap music, get it into you:
K Camp - Owe Me
Also an Atlanta guy, K Camp's been floating around for a while now, but failed to breakthrough until a couple years back, when singles Cut Her Off and Money Baby put him on the radar with more successes following suite. A bit like Young Thug and Future, he sing-raps, but maintains his street edge through the harmonies. This track's off the Ty Dolla $ign-featuring mixtape he dropped at the start of this year One Way - a commercial debut is on the way.
GoldLink - Sober Thoughts (prod. Kaytranda)
20 year-old Virginia up and comer Goldlink’s incredible debut, The God Complex, is still getting loads of plays up this end. The rapper, who describes his style as "Rick James meets Justin Timberlake (*NSYNC days) with Backstreet Boys and a little D12 and Tupac" has a lot of support behind him from the future beats crew, having buddied up with the Soulection crew vis a vis a co-sign with Sango, and having worked with Montreal's Kaytranda on this one below. He was down under not too long ago, performing at Perth music festival Origin NYE.
OG Maco & Key! - You Guessed It (Remix feat. 2 Chainz)
U Guessed It was the big track got the people talking about this Atlanta native (yep, Atlanta again, it's a breeding ground for new talent) - his lyric 'Bitch you guessed it!' has basically become a part of the proverbial vernacular and the track has since had a remix from 2 Chainz. Freak out to the minimal yet chaotic banger below and read a decent interview between Maco and Complex Mag here.
Tink - Ratchet Commandments
19 year-old Chicago rap newcomer Tink has been busy making her major label debut album with producer powerhouse Timbaland, the guy whose shaped the careers of Ginuwine, Justin Timberlake, Missy Elliot, and has produced for Jay-Z, Brandy, Drake, Rick Ross and more. Tink is his latest protégée, and Timbaland has said he think’s she’s destined to be “a superstar”. Listen to / watch the Timbaland-produced Tink single, Ratchet Commandments, a modern-day tribute to Biggie's Ten Crack Commandments, below.
Shy Glizzy - Awwsome
DC's Shy Glizzy is an all-rounder whose been developing a solid catalogue of tracks since first stepping into the game with this viral track, that later landed A$AP Rocky and 2 Chainz on a remix. Glizzy's got a great voice, boasting a half-falsetto a la Young Thug, and the stuttered flow and repetition of Migos - the A & R, 300 Entertainment, that deal with those two, have also taken on Glizzy. Other things to know about Glizzy: he has a Glizzy Gang, kind of like A$AP's gang, where everyone uses Glizzy at the end of their name.
Kidd Kidd feat. Lil Wayne - Ejected (I Got Some Bad Bitches in My Section)
Voted in by readers, Kidd Kidd is so far this year's most controversial inclusion, given his time in the game (he's been on Lil Wayne's label since the early days, 50 Cent's label etc). But hey, he's got fire for the haters. This one's off his next mixtape Fuk Da Fame:
Here's the full cover.