Large and in-charge: new rap artists break out on the scene


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XXL magazine Freshman List highlights the top ten newest rappers awarding them the title “XXL Freshman.”

By Jackson Resnick, Features Editor

Each year, a new group of rappers emerges into the mainstream, turning heads and gaining recognition through social media. The annual XXL magazine Freshman List highlights the 10 hottest new rappers, earning each rapper the prestigious title: “XXL Freshman.”

XXL is a magazine specializing hip-hop related news and pop culture. Past members of the Freshman List are some of the most popular hip-hop artists nationwide, such as Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Travis Scott and Future, proving the award’s worth as an honor.

The official 2018 Freshman list does not come out until June, but a list of 65 candidates was released and is already sparking up controversy and conversation. Here are some of the names who have the best shot at landing a spot on this year’s list.

Trippie Redd

Whether it’s the colorful dreads, face tattoos, or his moody and whiny vocals, Trippie Redd is sure to make quite the impression on his listeners. The Canton, Ohio native started his career on SoundCloud, and since then has racked up tens of millions of streams on his songs–including “Dark Night Dummo” and “Love Scars”–across all streaming platforms. With his rockstar personality and the energy and charisma he brings to the table, Trippie Redd is possibly the safest bet for a spot on this year’s XXL Freshman List.


The Florida rap scene has had a fruitful past couple of years, with artists such as Kodak Black, Denzel Curry and XXXTentacion being named to the 2016 and 2017 Freshman Lists. Smokepurpp is the most recent Florida native to blow up with hard-hitting bangers like “Fingers Blue” and “Audi” of his debut mixtape: “Deadstar.” Smokepurpp’s heavy, distorted instrumentation and thundering bass lines made its way up the charts and is responsible for much of the noise heard in the CHS senior lot after dismissal. Following the release of his Sophomore mixtape “Bless Yo Trap”, the Florida rapper’s name is on track to secure the title of “2018 XXL Freshman.”

Rich Brian

Rich Brian’s rise to fame has been rather unorthodox in the trap music scene. Rich Brian went viral after the release of his 2016 debut single, “Dat $tick,” which was released when he was just 16 years old and since has accumulated over 70 million Spotify streams. The gritty and rebellious track sounds like something straight out of the streets of Atlanta, but, in fact, is straight out of the suburbs of Indonesia. Rich Brian has admitted to not having any clue about what life on the streets is like, despite the obvious trap influence in his music, and takes a more satirical approach to the trap sound. With his debut 2018 mixtape “Amen” making him the first Asian to reach number one on iTunes, Rich Brian is likely to make his way on to the 2018 XXL Freshman List.

Tee Grizzley

While Rich Brian’s come up is largely dedicated to his lack of “street knowledge,” Tee Grizzley may actually have the most “street knowledge” out of all the candidates this year. Straight out of Detroit, Tee Grizzley came up on to the scene following the release of some 2016 singles that earned him a record deal with Atlantic Records in the beginning of 2017. Grizzley made his name heard in the mainstream after collaborating with 2016 XXL Freshman, Lil Yachty, on the song “D to the A” which gained over 90 million plays on Spotify since its release back in March. Tee Grizzley entertains his audience with a lyrical approach to the trap sound that has become so prominent in hip-hop and other genres. He combines raw lyrics with a manipulative, off-beat flow that sets him apart from the rest of the pack.

Famous Dex

Famous Dex has been on the prowl for a couple years now. Many hip-hop heads will argue he was unjustly snubbed of a spot on last year’s list after a successful 2017 year, but has to be recognized as one of the top contenders for the 2018 list. His 2017 single “Pick it Up” exploded up the charts and accumulated up over 150 million streams on its way. The song just missed out on the Top 50 most-streamed songs of the year, quite impressive considering it had just over three months after its release to make it on the list. The Chicago rapper’s playful energy and nasally voice set him apart from the rest of the pack, as tracks like “Japan” off of his Apr. 6 mixtape “Dex Meets Dexter” continue to grow into the mainstream. Famous Dex has been fighting for his place on the Freshman List and is set to see his hard-work pay off when the 2018 Freshman List comes out this June.

The XXL Freshman List is becoming increasingly popular as the internet allows for more and more artists to blow up on sites like SoundCloud and Bandcamp. It has also gained credibility as a result of the saturated rap game and is becoming more and more important in determining which rappers had the best year.