Breaking down the 2013 XXL Freshman List

In no particular order the Fire This Time has compiled a who’s who of the annual XXL 2013 Freshman list. Ranging from obvious picks like Joey Bada$$ to relative new comers like Travi$ Scott, this years XXL list did not disappoint and contained many new artists who are simply too dope to sleep on. Some may say the XXL list gives credit to those already in the spotlight and many would argue some of these artists are no where near “freshman”. However with notable artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, Lil B, and Mac Miller among many others, the XXL list serves as a common credential before an artist truly “makes it”. Read up on the nine XXL approved rappers and the fan choice (Dizzy Wright) below:

Ab Soul & School Boy Q: Soul Brother #2 and Q are probably the least known in the Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) crew. Fellow member Jay Rock was the first of the group to get a major label and Kendrick Lamar has been overwhelming blogs, playlists, radio, and TV for the last 12 months. However thanks to two of my favorite compilations (mixtape or album) in 2012 Schoolboy Q and Ab Soul are ascending the ladder with their inclusion amongst the XXL Top Ten Freshman. Schoolboy Q is a blend between Jay Rock’s grittier side and Kendrick Lamar’s intricacies, which lends his music to a “thug poetry” of sorts. On the other side, Ab Soul represents a push towards some of the more political and creative hip-hop exploits in the preceding decades. Both artists are well deserving of this recognition and we will see where their careers take them in the coming years.

Joey Bada$$: “They say I’m evil cause I trained my ego to see gold/ See, no seagulls couldn’t see these goals, please/ It’s the return of the beast coast.” – ‘Killuminati

Joey Bada$$ is a rapper from Brooklyn, New York and a member of the hip-hop group, Pro Era.  He is flow is impressive and his way of wordplay is one that is seldom heard anymore.  His sound is one that resembles Nas when he first came out. And to only be 18 years old, the kid is really making a name for himself.  In the song, Killuminati, Joey shouts out the emergence of the new generation of east coast rappers, mainly from New York, called the Beast Coast.  When most people think of East Coast rap they think of Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Jay-Z, Wu-Tang Clan, and Gang Starr; however, this new age, generation of Beast Coast rappers is compiled of Pro Era, Flatbush Zombies, The Underachievers, A$AP Mob, World’s Fair, and Smoke DZA.  Of all of the artists in the Beast Coast collective, none have made quite an impact in the rap world as much as Joey Bada$$ has in terms of lyricism and delivery.

Travi$ Scott: The Houston born rhyme spitter and producer sounds like Kanye right before 808’s and Heartbreak, and in a good way. The 20 year old dropped out of college to pursue his music career and had to sleep on couches from NYC to USC (Los Angeles) before being called to action by such rap talents as T.I., and eventually Kanye West himself. After being credited with several tracks on the G.O.O.D. Music collaborative Cruel Summer, Travis Scott started to blow up in his own right. Since then he has done collaborations with some of the hottest artists in the game, including Pusha T, Casey Veggies, and A$AP Rocky among others. Keep an eye out for the young blood.

Trinidad James:  “Popped a molly, I’m sweating! WOO!” – All Gold Everything

Trinidad James hopped onto the rap scene last year with his banger “All Gold Everything” from his Don’t Be S.A.F.E. mixtape. The song took radio stations and everyone’s iTunes playlists by storm, as well as had everyone, including Lebron James, yelling “popped a molly, I’m sweating” for weeks on end.  What’s most impressive about Trinidad James is that he has only been rapping for a little over a year now, reaching commercial success after a mere 10 months of rapping.  His single “All Gold Everything” has gone platinum, and he recently inked a deal with Def Jam worth $2 million.

Angel Haze: Her song ‘Cleanin’ Out My Closet’ is reminiescent of Eminem’s. Angel’s version is just as raw, disturbing and, graphic.  Listener Discretion is advised. On another note, if you’re kind of depressed after listening to the song, check out another song by her ‘Who I Am’.  It’s a happy song. Angel Haze is possibly the most lyrical female rapper out right now.  In actuality, she is one of the most lyrical rappers out now, period, male or female. She is capable of spitting the grittiest, toughest songs that you’ve ever heard, regardless of gender.

Logic: Hailing from the Gaithersburg Maryland, Logic is a beast on the mic. Half white, half black, he reportedly emerged from a crack-ridden home to produce incredibly quick flows that leave listener’s hand hovering above the rewind button. He has released 3 tapes and opened for Ludacris, Redman, and Methodman among others. His subject matter isn’t particularly hardcore, and this allows him to garner an even wider audience.

In his freestyle at the University of Maryland: College Park in 2011 he claims, “my future lookin XXL/ their shit is medium.” As prophetic as it is a dope line, Logic definitely has bars.

Action Bronson: “Just tell that b**** I need a scrubbin’/ And don’t forget the chicken in the oven/ Never burn a dinner, spend cake on cheese.” – ‘Eggs on the Third Floor’

Hailing from Queens, New York, Action Bronson is not your average rapper that you hear coming from your radio.  He is a short Albanian man, easily weighing well over 300lbs, and features a bald-head with a thick red beard.  Before beginning his rap career, Action Bronson worked as a gourmet chef in New York, which is why many of his songs contain references of fancy meals that I can’t pronounce, or afford.

Kirko Bangz: Kirko Bangz’s, another Houston rapper to make it on the list, was fast tracked to stardom with 2011 radio smash ‘Drank In My Cup’. Using autotune tastefully is hard (some would say impossible), yet Bangz has been able to craft notable hits featuring the likes of French Montana and Meek Mill. He is one of the only freshmen to have a record deal in place with a major label and is signed to Warner Bros Records. Kirko has just announced his debut album will be out later this year and titled, Bigger Than Me.

Dizzy Wright:  “There’s reasons for you to believe it, inspired when found it in what I was reading/ And now I feel like it’s what I should be teaching, starting with The First Agreement.” – ‘The First Agreement

Dizzy Wright from Las Vegas is a member of rapper, Hopsin’s, Funk Volume label.  Although most of his songs contain marijuana heavy themes, Dizzy changes it up on his new album, The First Agreement, and reveals a more personal side to his artistry.

-Marcus Byrd & Lamar Holmes


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