In 2007, XXL a hip hop magazine began to do a freshman list that is composed of young rap artists who are either on the verge of blowing up into something big or have blown up and can still elevate to father heights. This list comes out every summer and something most rap fans are very excited to see who made the cover. This cover gives a chance for fans to check out the artist they may have not heard of and to become a fan of their music. Along with becoming a freshman getting free exposure, you also have the chance to show off your skill as an artist in the solo freestyle and the group cypher. Most fans get very excited to hear the group cypher because it shows the most ability of who has the best bars. Those ten spots on the cover are very selective and sometimes there are many snubs and surprises but in today’s article we are going to be looking at the top five most surprising picks to make the XXL freshman list.
5. Troy Ave
Coming in at the fifth spot for most surprising picks, we have Troy Ave. In 2014 was selected to be a freshman alongside the likes of Lil Bibby, Chance the Rapper, Rich Homie Quan, and Ty Dolla $ign. Troy Ave is a rapper/singer coming out of Brooklyn, New York. His Ability to rap and sing was something many were not doing in 2014, but as his career continued to progress it was apparently clear that XXL made a mistake, after his initial success Troy Ave fizzled out by getting into some legal trouble getting charged with attemted murder and also getting in a feud with Joey Bada$$ where he attacked Joey’s friend who committed suicide. Also this pick was surprising because in 2014 the infamous Young Thug was one of the hottest artists coming up out of Atlanta and his duo with Rich Homie Quan on the list would have been a great thing for XXL but instead Thug did not show up for the shoot the day of.
4. Asher Roth
In 2009 for the second edition of the cover Asher Roth was selected for one of the 10 spots on the cover. Asher Roth is most known for his song “I Love College” but not much after that. With all due respect to Roth, he was not much of a rapper, fans only may have heard of him due to his hit song but other than that he did not have a lot of buzz surrounding him. After 2009 hit really fizzled out and was heard from as much since he did continue to release multiple EPs only not to have much success. Also this is a surprise because of who XXL missed out on. The magazine had a chance to have Drake & Nicki Minaj on this cover as they were both blowing up around the same time. When you have the opportunity to have two of the greatest artist ever to grace this cover it is very surprising.
3. Kidd Kidd
In 2015, XXL had some heavy hitters for it’s time. The cover featured names such as Fetty Wap who took over the summer, also Dej Loaf who was gaining traction with her hit song “Try Me”. K Camp, Shy Glizzy, Tink, & Vince Staples. This list also includes some duds such as Og Maco, Raury, & Kidd Kidd. Kidd from New Orleans, was found by Lil Wayne and joined forces on the label Young Money. After leaving Young Money in 2004, he joined forces with 50 cent and would be featured on some of his projects. There was never much individual success and people questioned why he was on this list. He did not have a hit song or anything creating buzz around him. He left 50 cent’s label after a couple of years to focus on creating his own label. The biggest snub on this list is PartyNextDoor who is not necessarily a rapper but that would not be the first time XXL put an R&B artist on the cover which they had done previously with Ty Dolla $ign. This decision was one of the most surprising picks especially considering who was left off the list.
2. Charles Hamilton
2009 was a weird year for XXL. As far as the list goes It was not very good from a success standpoint. Artists on the list include someone one who is on this list in Asher Roth, but also has Mickey Facts & Blu who did not have much success. B.O.B was on this list he had some mainstream success for a bit, then fizzled out. The most surprising on this list other than Asher Roth was Charles Hamilton. In 2009, Hamilton released his mixtape Well Isn't This Awkward. The mixtape lyrically followed the story of a fan who had a romantic obsession with the singer-songwriter Rihanna, and instrumentally included various samples of her music. Fans did not really receive the tape very well and believed that it was very awkward. After that he jumped around from label to label and did not gather much steam. He tried acting for a bit and hasn’t really had much success in his career.
1. Rubi Rose
The most surprising pick for XXL Freshman List is Rubi Rose on the 2021 cover. Rubi Rose first made an appearance on the music scene for being in a Migos video for their hit song “Bad and Boujee.” The cover includes the most ever women to be on a list with four women including Flo Milli, Coi Leray, & Lakeyah. Most fans of the list did not know Rose made music and for that reason she is the most surprising. Most know of her for being an Instagram influencer/model. Also being in videos alongside rappers. She also could be known for being a rapper’s girlfriend. She was once the girlfriend of Playboi Carti, 21 Savage, Travis Scott, and her classmate on the list DDG. Also had an altercation with rapper Lil Tjay after she claimed that the rapper flew her out and would not pay for her to go back. Not only did most fans of the list not know she made music but she was choose over candidates who were far more deserving of the spot such as Kaash Paige, $not, Est Gee & The Kid Laroi who all were names fans would be a for sure lock for the list.