Who Are The 2016 XXL Freshmen?

The 2016 XXL Freshmen class has been announced and the next wave of young artists is set to embark on the “come up” stage of their careers. While some picks were expected, a few left us feeling surprised and upset. Similar to every other year XXL left out some artists that we believe deserved to make the list. True Too decided to compile some basic info on the 2016 front page rappers (and forgotten ones) in case you aren’t hip to their names.

Lil Uzi Vert

The 21-year-old Philly rapper (soon to turn 22 this month) Lil Uzi Vert is making a splash in the game, standing out just like his colorful dreads. Uzi is a bit of an eccentric and wild character, living life truly as a young artist should. Coming off of his mixtape Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World, a spot on the XXL Freshmen list is a nice birthday gift and a good way to keep his momentum moving. It should also be noted that Uzi bears the symbol of trust from Young Metro. Here’s one of my personal favorite Uzi jams:

Lil Dicky

You either love him or hate him. Coming from Pennsylvania, Lil Dicky blew up incredibly fast after his “$ave Dat Money” video came out, where he actually made a music video for free. He began rapping to further progress his comedy career but ended up falling in love with the game. Some people can’t handle his quirky attitude and the fact that he’s always saying something funny, but LD can really rhyme and is here to stay. The validation of Dicky’s skills comes from the fact so many rappers have been down to work with him from Snoop Dogg, to Fetty Wap. His debut album Professional Rapper was funded by Kickstarter last year and debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200.


Denzel Curry

If there’s anyone that can hype a room up and blow speakers out through bass and bars it’s Floridian Denzel Curry. Discovered by Odd Future and then deciding to go on a solo career path, Curry’s discography holds a handful of mixtapes, his debut album N64, where you can check out “Threatz,”  32 Zel / Planet Shrooms in which you should definitely check out “Ultimate,” and his latest, Imperial, which you can listen to below.


This year’s most obvious and deserving of a spot on this year’s XXL Freshman Class: Desiigner. The 6’5 Brooklyn rapper may only have one song in his archive but it’s enough for the 19 year old to land  #1 on the Billboard Charts and go platinum. Desiigner has the capabilities of making it big, giving 110% during every performance and leaving nothing but his blood, sweat, and tears. Hopefully, that same energy will translate onto his debut project. Listen to Panda below.


21 Savage

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, 21 Savage represents the trap rappers on this year’s freshman class. With break-out singles like “Picky” and “Red Flag, Blue Flag,” he’s been able to make a name for himself with hard hitting bars and booming beats. In July of last year, Savage released a collaborative EP with producer Sonny Digital titled Free Guwop in honor of one of the greatest trap artists to ever live, Gucci Mane. He capitalized on the hype from that tape and released another collaborative EP with Metro Boomin titled SavageBoomin. Since then, he’s released his second banger-full mixtape, SlaugherKing, which solidified his spot on this years XXL freshman class.


Dave East

Repping Harlem, Dave East came into the game with his stellar debut mixtape Black Rose. The mixtape caught the attention of people across the country and East signed to Nas‘ Mass Appeal Records shortly after. East has since released his second mixtape Hate Me Now containing features from Pusha T, Nas, Jadakiss and more. Check out the tape below:




Anderson .Paak

Anderson .Paak is the dude. After spending years on the underground West Coast scene, Paak has blown up and he’s the latest of Dr. Dre’s prodigies. His rise to stardom came in the form of Compton, a 2015 Dre album where Paak made a heavy amount of contributions. In 2016, Paak has made a number of high-profile guest appearances and released his critically-acclaimed debut album, Malibu. You can stream this masterful summertime album below.

Lil Yachty

Lil Yachty is a relatively new trap rapper from Atlanta. His time in the limelight came from being spotted at Yeezy Season 3, getting airplay on Drake’s OVO Sound Radio, and appearing on Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book. When he’s not riding on the coattails of rap’s elite artists, he can be found imitating Makkonen on his own tracks like “Minnesota” and “1Night” – both of which can be found on his debut mixtape Lil Boat

Kodak Black

2015 was a bright spot in Kodak Black‘s crime-ridden life. It’s the year that Drake posted an Instagram of him dancing to Black’s “Skrt” on a plane. That post may be responsible for his placement on this year’s list, although he was getting play time on OVO Sound Radio since its second episode. With a last name like Octave, though, this guy was destined for some sort of musical career. Perhaps we’ll get to see this freshman’s career blossom, that is, if he doesn’t follow the imprisoned path of Gucci Mane. Skrt.



G Herbo

Hailing from the streets of Chicago, G Herbo (formerly Lil’ Herb) rounds off the XXL freshman list. While he may be considered a rookie, Herbo’s debut mixtape came all the way back in 2014. Welcome to the Fazoland succeeded in its attempt to combine street narrative and drill rap. Since then, he’s featured on Common’s Nobody’s Smiling and dropped two mixtapes. You can stream his latest mixtape Ballin’ Like Kobe below.


Every year XXL leaves out a few artists that fans think deserved to make it. Here are a couple of our favorite break out artists that didn’t make the list this year.

Mick Jenkins


The Chicago Shaman, Mick Jenkins has been making huge waves in the rap game. His break out mixtape The Waters dropped in summer of 2014 which made him a familiar name throughout the internet. Most fans anticipated that he would even make the freshman cover last year. Mick then capitalized this hype by going on a nation-wide tour. His follow up EP Wave[s] dropped this past summer and contained a few fan favorites like “P’s & Q’s.” His debut album The Healing Component is due to drop any day now.



Okay, there’s obviously some Chicago bias here, but Chicago is a hotbed and D.R.A.M. is one of the guy’s on the forefront. Last year, his hit song “ChaCha” inspired a Drake remix titled “Hotline Bling” which, uh, you may have heard. Drake’s borderline plagiarism didn’t seem to bother the always-smiling D.R.A.M. who went onto release the very good GahDamn EP! He was also on Coloring Book! He also has cool dreads!

Post Malone

He’s been ballin’ since he was young. He’s Post Malone, an eccentric artist behind 2015’s super-hit “White Iverson”. And there’s more to him than just one song (looking at you Desiigner). Post has a 2016 mixtape, and a feature on The Life of Pablo. Apparently XXL wanted Post on the cover, but his camp said that he’s “going in a rock/pop/country direction,” ¯\_()_/¯.


Jazz Cartier

It’s not the most obvious of snubs, but the Toronto native Jazz Cartier is now a household name in rap circles. What’s more impressive is the fact that his rise has been untouched by OVO. Drake and his people have an absolute stranglehold of music in The Six, but somehow Jazz has carved a niche. His mixtape Hotel Paranoia was released earlier this year and should have earned him a spot. Sigh.

Stay peeped to True Too for the XXL Cypher which would have been better had we picked the class.


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