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A guide to the 2012 XXL Freshman list for those who don't listen to rap

February 28, 2012|By Ernest Wilkins, RedEye

If you have friends who are REALLY into rap on Twitter, you're probably noticing a lot of humbuggery about something called "the Freshman cover" or the "XXL list." Curiosity probably got the best of you, and you clicked through only to be really confused about the whole thing. Look, I understand that it can be hard to keep up with who all these rappin'-ass rappers are these days. Lucky for you, I'm here to help. 

Background:

The XXL Freshman list is supposed to be a "these are the new big things on the scene" guide for people., and it's usually controversial. From artists who deserve a nod not wanting to be involved to absolutely ridiculous major label politics getting artists cover nods, you can bet your Aunt Tonisha that people are going to spend a majority of the day arguing about the list when it drops. The 2012 list is more of the same.

Past "Freshman" you may you may have heard of:  

  • Lupe Fiasco
  • Kid Cudi
  • B.O.B
  • Wiz Khalifa
  • Asher Roth
  • Saigon* (*only if you watched "Entourage")

Past "Freshman" you've never heard of before:

  • Fred the Godson
  • Lil' Twist
  • Gorilla Zoe (even though you should listen to "Hood N***a")
  • Papoose

This year's list and what you should know about them: 

MACHINE GUN KELLY - Cleveland, Ohio: 

  • Signed to Bad Boy Records, so expect his album to come out...uh..just don't hold your breath.
  • His fanbase = your little brother and his whole dorm.
  • His freestyle on the BET Awards last year was pretty good. 

Song to listen to: "Chip Off Tha Block"

DANNY BROWN - Detroit, Mich.:

  • I wouldn't recommend playing his music at holiday gatherings. He is the living embodiment of REAL. TALK.
  • His album "XXX" was a Top 20 pick on a lot of non-rap focused blogs. It's amazing.
  • A lot of rap purists (read: douchebags) dislike his un-rapper-like look. Ignore that.
  • Signed to Fools' Gold Records, home of Duck Sauce,A-Trak and Kid Sister. 

Song to listen to: The entire "XXX" album. Especially "I will," "Fields," "Scrap or Die" and "30"

KID INK - Los Angeles, Calif.:

  • Do you like heavily tatted black dudes who aren't Chris Brown? Then Ink might be the one for you.
  • If you think Wiz Khalifa raps about weed too much and not enough about generic rap topics, then Ink's your man!
  • You can close your eyes and pretend he's a rapping octopus! How fun does that sound?
  • If "Rack City" was your wave, you'll probably enjoy Kid Ink.

Song to listen to: "I just want it all" or "What I Do."

FUTURE - Atlanta, Ga.:

  • He raps an entire song doing an impression of Tony Montana from "Scarface." Seriously.
  • Are you a fan of cocaine or love somewone who is? If so, you'll enjoy the subject material!
  • Have you thought of trying lean or syrup? Listen to this guy when you do. 

Song to listen to: "Tony Montana" or "Magic."

ROSCOE DASH - Atlanta, Ga.:

  • Was your last experience with Atlanta rap "Laffy Taffy?" You'll enjoy Roscoe then.
  • He did that "All the way turnt up" song!!!!
  • He was the one on "No Hands" who did the chorus and said the "I be going ham, upgrade from baloney" line. 

Song to listen to: "All the way turnt up" or "Good Good Night."

HOPSIN -??????

  • I'm not even going to lie. This is the first time I've ever heard of Hopsin in my life. Bully for him, though!

MACKLEMORE - Seattle, Wash.:

  • Raps are consistent, with themes about growing up and dealing with what comes.
  • Kind of a poor-man's Atmosphere at times. That's not a bad thing.
  • He kinda looks like Macauley Culkin. Maybe do something with that?

Song to listen to: "Wings."

DON TRIP - Memphis, Tenn.:

  • Very focused and speaks on real life issues with a LOT of detail. 
  • Made a tape last year that was themed around the movie "StepBrothers." Funny parts.
  • His song "Letter to my son" is really powerful. Cee-Lo is on the hook.

Song to listen to: "Letter to my son" and "Song 4."

IGGY AZALEA - Austrailia by way of Los Angeles, Calif.:

  • She sounds a lot like Kid Sister. A LOT.
  • Her skills aren't amazing, but she's definitely serviceable.
  • Good if you dig Nikki Minaj when she's not rapping.

Song to listen to: "PU$$Y."

FRENCH MONTANA - New York, N.Y."

  • He's wearing a damn BEAR HEAD on the cover of the magazine.
  • Read that again. 
  • Also signed to Bad Boy Records...sigh.
  • Good stuff to play when you're in bottle service or just in the mood to pour alcohol on the person closest to you.

Song to listen to: "Choppa Down" or his verse on "Stay Schemin"...Actually, that whole song goes hard.

So there you have it. Let me know what you guys think of the tunes!



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