Every year since 2007, XXL Magazine publishes an edition of their magazine that highlights the year’s most prominent emerging artists in Rap and Hip/Hop. XXL helps young artists expose their music to the broader public and celebrates their accomplishments that exceed their peers. The XXL cover has been widely regarded for the last ten years as a platform that artists can aspire to be a part of.
This article explains who I think will be the members of the XXL cover for 2017. Readers should know that this list has less to do with my opinion, and more to do with numbers.
I’ve divided this list into two sections. The first highlights the people in ten freshman spots, three of which I have dubbed ‘All-Stars’ for achieving more than their fellow candidates. One thing to note about this section is that I haven’t included the people who the artists have collaborated with who are XXL candidates. XXL makes it clear that high profile collaborators rank higher in their decision making process than collaborations with the artists’ peers. In the second, I have included a list of people I think barely didn’t make the cut for the cover and could make the cover in years to come.
Probables for the cover:
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie (All-Star)
Notable Collaborators: Kodak Black, Lil Bibby, Kehlani, DJ Spinking (producer) and more.
- 5 songs above 30 million streams on Soundcloud
- Record My Sh*t is RIAA gold certified
- A-Boogie’s mixtape TBA peaked at number 63 on the US Billboard 200 chart and made an appearance on Rolling Stone magazine’s 40 Best Rap Albums of 2016 list
What makes A Boogie an All-Star: A Boogie has been pumping out hit after hit this past year, a feat that most of the artists on this list have not done. Sure, other artists have put out one, two, maybe three true hit songs, but A Boogie has put out at least seven hit songs that have gotten radio play on mainstream stations and have caught nationwide (and even worldwide) attention.
XXXTentacion (pronounced EX-EX-EX-TEN-TA-SYONE)
Notable Collaborations: Denzel Curry, Ronny J (Producer), Diplo (producer) and more.
- Song ‘Look At Me’ peaked at No. 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Rap Chart
- Songs ‘YuNg BrAtZ’, ‘R.I.P. ROAST “EAST SIDE SOUJA”’, and ‘ILOVEITWHENYOURUN’, have over 22 million streams on SoundCloud,
- Song ‘I don’t wanna do this anymore’ has over 33 million streams on SoundCloud
- Performed at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami
Kyle aka Super Duper Kyle
Notable Collaborators: Kehlani, G-Eazy, Chance the Rapper, Carnage (producer), Lil Yachty and more.
- Toured with Cousin Stizz (32 shows) on Kyle’s ‘Super Tour’,
- Connected to; All Def Digital, INgrooves (imprint of Atlantic)
- Song ‘ISpy’ featuring Lil Yachty peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 Rap and R&B charts, and has nearly 75 million streams and over 1 million likes on Soundcloud
MadeinTYO (pronounced MAY-D IHN TO-KEE-YOH)
Notable Collaborations: Travis Scott, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, Metro Boomin (producer), Lil Yachty, Offset, and more.
- Opened for Big Sean’s ‘I Decided’ Tour (22 shows)
- Hit ‘Uber Everywhere’ has over 52 million views on Youtube, was certified RIAA platinum and was later remixed by Travis Scott
- Hit ‘Skateboard P’ has almost 55 million streams on SoundCloud and later remixed by Big Sean
- Hit ‘I want’ has almost 10 million views on Youtube and was later remixed by 2 Chainz
Montana of 300
Notable Collaborations: Talley of 300 and more.
- Album ‘Fire in the Church’ went No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Rap Chart
- Signed to Fly Guy Entertainment (FGE).
- His song ‘Ice Cream Truck’ has over 27 million views on Youtube
- His song ‘Chiraq (Remix)’ has nearly 18.5 million views on Youtube
*Side note: Even though Montana of 300 hasn’t put out a ton of music since his album was released, in my opinion, he’s been overdue for a spot on the XXL freshman cover for at least 3 years.
Nav aka Beats By Nav (All-Star)
Notable Collaborations: Travis Scott, The Weeknd, Belly, Metro Boomin (producer), Kodak Black, Drake, Lil Uzi Vert and more.
- Song with Travis Scott titled ‘biebs in the trap’ has nearly 47 million views on Youtube and is RIAA Certified Gold
- His self titled mixtape peaked at the No. 9 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 Rap category and No. 4 on the Canadian Billboard Hot 100 Rap category
- Performed at the 2017 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
What makes Nav an All-Star: Nav has collaborated with several A list artists not only as an artist, but also as a producer. The fact that he has seen just as much success producing songs like ‘Back To Back’ by Drake as he has with his own songs is a feat that you never see in any genre of music.
PnB Rock (All-Star)
Notable Collaborations: Kodak Black, Quavo, Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla Sign, Fetty Wap, Lil Yachty, Kevin Hart, Young Thug, 2 Chainz and more.
- Song ‘Selfish’ has over 15.5 million views on Youtube, is RIAA Certified Gold, and has over 52 million streams on SoundCloud
- Album ‘Going Thru The Motions (GTTM)’ went No. 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Rap Chart
- Featured in two songs in the movie ‘Fate of the Furious’
- Song with Kodak Black titled ‘Too Many Years’ has over 15 million views on Youtube and nearly 55 million streams on SoundCloud
What makes PnB Rock an All-Star: PnB Rock is an All-Star because of his consistency and his connections. He has pumped out a couple hits and a well reviewed mixtape. But the biggest thing that makes him an All-Star is that he was featured in two songs in the movie ‘The Fate of the Furious’, a feat that nobody who has been considered for a XXL freshman spot has done before making it on the XXL cover. As for his collaborations, he has worked with several A list artists and even comedian Kevin Hart for his movie/documentary ‘Kevin Hart: What Now?’.
Playboi Carti (pronounced PLAY-BOY CAR-TEE)
Notable Collaborators: A$AP Rocky, Don Cannon (Producer), Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott, Kodak Black, Gucci Mane, Tyler, The Creator and more.
- Song ‘wokeuplikethis*’ featuring Lil Uzi Vert has 30 million streams on Soundcloud
- Song ‘Broke Boi’ has over 24.5 million streams on SoundCloud
- Starred as the lead model of OVO’s 2016 Lookbook
- His self titled mixtape peaked at No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Rap Chart
Notable Collaborations: Trill Sammy, Lil Yachty, Carnage (producer) and more.
- Song ‘Water’ has over 85 million streams on SoundCloud and over 25 million views on Youtube
- Song ‘B***h!’ has over 18 million streams on SoundCloud
- Song ‘RARI’ that was produced by Carnage and featured Lil Yachty and Famous Dex has over 18.5 million streams on SoundCloud
Young MA (pronounced YUH-NG EM-AY)
Notable Collaborations: Smiff-N-Wessun, Young Thug, Project Pat, Uncle Murda, Jadakiss and more.
- Hit song ‘OOOUUU’ has over 204 million views on Youtube, has over 12,000 radio spins, peaked at No. 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Rap Chart
- Freestyled at the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards infamous segment ‘The Cypher’ and performed her song ‘OOOUUU’ while there
- Song ‘Quiet Storm’ has over 18 million views on Youtube,
Aminé: Aminé’s hit song ‘Caroline’ did go double platinum and received a slew of other awards, but I don’t believe he is worthy of having a spot on this cover due to having only one hit song. XXL isn’t really a fan of ‘one hit wonders’ and Aminé hasn’t done much else to put him in the conversation of being on the Freshman list.
Estimated Time To Get on the Cover: Unclear. Personally, I don’t think he’ll top ‘Caroline’.
Dae Dae: Dae Dae has a similar problem to Aminé in that he’s only had one song that took off. ‘What You Need (Family To Feed)’ has over 43 million plays on Youtube. But other than that, his catalogue of well known music is short.
Estimated Time To Get on the Cover: 1-3 years.
Lil Pump: Complex News calls 16 year old rapper, Lil Pump, “one of the most colorful and bizarre rappers coming out of South Florida”. His “weird but catchy” trap music is making waves with teenage crowds. I think that if there were an 11th spot on the freshman list, he would make it hands down. The only thing that truly sets him back is the fact that he hasn’t really had a chart topping hit yet.
Estimated Time To Get on the Cover: Next year.
Rob $tone: Same thing as Aminé and Kent Jones. His hit ‘Chill Bill’ was certified Platinum but his mixtape was a flop to say the least. Since Chill Bill, he hasn’t dropped any music that reached a million streams on SoundCloud or views Youtube.
Estimated Time To Get on the Cover: Unclear. I don’t think he’ll top ‘Chill Bill’.
Ski Mask The Slump God: Ski Mask The Slump God is so close to making it to the XXL Freshman cover, I just think that he hasn’t released his best work yet. He has one song on SoundCloud with frequent collaborator and XXL Freshman candidate XXXTentacion called ‘TAKE A STEP BACK’ that has over 20 million streams and a song with Lil Pump called ‘WHERE’S THE B**W’ that has over 10 million streams on SoundCloud, but other than that, he hasn’t had a ton of work that has really taken off. However, I am a fan of Ski Mask and I would be very surprised if he didn’t make the 2018 cover.
Estimated Time To Get on the Cover: 1 year most likely, 2 at most.