|| Pictured is XXL's 2011 class. Who will be featured in XXL's 2012 class? ||
"Waaaaaiiiit. Where's Kreayshawn on this list? I demand answers!" Ha, I can already hear it now... but seriously, a lot of incredibly talented artists have emerged between 2010 and 2011. And with Kanye, Jay-Z, Eminem, Snoop and the rest of the old-schoolers well on their way to their 50's, a new wave of hip-hop artists is set to change the game. It's no secret that XXL has been known to make some pretty wack Freshman Predictions [See 2011: Lil B, Lil Twist, Fred The Godson], so bear with me if my predictions don't quite align with XXL's conclusions. I'd look for the following 12 artists to make some serious noise in 2012.
Logic - The Maryland born young gunner combines lyrical wittiness with a sound that can best be described as a mix of a young Lupe Fiasco and a hungry J. Cole. Needless to say, Young Sinatra is one of the better projects of 2011.
The Weeknd - Although not an emcee in the traditional sense of the term, considering The Weeknd's buzz in hip-hop, it seems futile to leave them off the list. No one [certainly myself included] knew much about The Weeknd in 2010. And now? The Weeknd's largely regarded as the next R&B singer to blow up. Between House of Balloons and Thursday, is there any doubt that The Weeknd deserves to be on XXL's list?
b.FUNK - b.Funk, like The Weeknd, is not the most traditional pick for Freshman Predictions, as b.FUNK is a full band. But, considering b.FUNK's lead singer Brian Cole is as good of an emcee as there is in hip-hop, it's hard to keep them off this list. b.FUNK's probably the most musically diverse pick of the entire 2012 group. And it's easily conceivable that b.FUNK's a once in a generation kind of hip-hop group. My addiction to The Roots and Gym Class Heroes has been replaced by the sounds of New Jersey's dopest hip-hop group.
Phil Ade - A Different World resides in my top 5 favorite hip-hop albums of 2012. It's that good. Maryland is represented well on this 2012 XXL Freshman Predictions list, as both Logic and Phil Ade reside there. With lyrical presentations on par with any top emcee, and a voice that's made for worldwide notoriety, it only seems a matter of time until Phil Ade blows.
Macklemore - Last year, after putting out multiple mixtapes, Yelawolf was inducted into XXL's 2011 Freshman Class at the modest age of 30. As such, Macklemore is my [non-newcomer to the rap game] pick for Freshman Class 2012. He's also currently my favorite artist on the planet.
OnCue- To me, Feel Tall will likely go down as a classic. Timeless sh*t. A buddy of mine hit the proverbial nail on the head when he said, "Yo Crosby, I want something incredibly dope on while we play fifa 2011, turn on OnCue." OnCue's first taste of commercial success came 2 weeks back when Feel Tall was featured on Bing's commercial during The VMA's.
Skizzy Mars - Under the age of 19, Skizzy Mars' brings a new school flow with a style slightly similar to Childish Gambinos. With only a handful of songs available at the moment, it could be argued that Skizzy won't be eligible until XXL's 2013 awards. On the other hand, a compelling argument could be made that Skizzy is the most worthy of the Freshman nod, as he's the young gunner of the group, a newcomer of sorts to the hip-hop scene.
G-Eazy - What other rapper has put out an entire album sampling classic 1950's tracks? Endless Summer was great, but it's entirety of G-Eazy's discography [The Outsider was an absolute classic!] that leads me to believe Eazy's destined for the limelight.
Hoodie Allen - The Google geek turned emcee has one of the catchiest projects of the year with Leapyear. From The Chase Is On to James Franco, this album is chalked full of radio-worthy hits. Hoodie's one of the leaders of the new school artists, utilizing the social-networking game to amass more fans than a ceiling. In the process, dude is consistently headlining sold out shows across the country.
Timeflies - The Scotch Tape blended hip hop, house, indie, R&B, electronic and dub-step to create a uniquely crafted and superbly produced project. Like Hoodie Allen, Timeflies is a perfect example of the continual emergence of quality college age based hip-hop that we're witnessing grow. The Scotch Tape is perfect for drinking nights, your iPod and during workouts. Triple threat.
Childish Gambino - The actor turned rapper has more bars than a state penitentiary, leaving him off the list would be dumb -- at best - and sacrilegious -- at worst. In my mind, with one of the craziest flows of the last 5 years, and Donald Glover's insanely clever alter-ego, Gambino has created his own lane in hip-hop. Freaks and Geeks.
Frank Ocean - "Frank Ocean but no Tyler The Creator? Justify yourself!!" No disrespect to Tyler's music, but I'm not a huge fan [yet, anyways]. No denying his buzz though, and if I was a betting man, I'd guarantee that Tyler The Creator will be on XXL's 2012 list. Now on to Franky. Frank Ocean, The OFWGKTA croonie has a similar story to The Weeknd's. From complete obscurity in 2010 to an overnight blog sensation by 2011. In 2010, none of us knew who Frank Ocean was. And now? Frank Ocean's soulful sound can be found on No Church In The Wild and Made In America [Sweeeet Baby Jesus!], two of my favorite tracks off Jay-Z and Kanye's iconic album Watch The Thrown. With only 1 album under his belt, I consider Frank Ocean still worthy of a Freshman nod.
Honorable mention - Th@ Kid, Kenton Dunson, Hona Costello, TALWST, Laws, Cobe Obeah, XV, Theophilus London, Azad Right, Theo Martins, Machine Gun Kelly.
Prior XXL Classes [2008-2011]
2011 - Meek Mill, Diggy, Lil B, Mac Miller, Fred Da Godson, Big KRIT, CyHi, Yelawolf, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Twist, YG
2010 - Wiz Khalifa, J. Cole, Big Sean, Nipsey Hussle, Pill, OJ Da Juiceman, Jay Rock, Freddie Gibbs, Donnis, Fashawn
2009 - B.o.B, Wale, Blu, Asher Roth, Ace Hood, Kid Cudi, Curren$y, Mickey Factz, Cory Gunz, Charles Hamilton
2008 - Lil Boosie, Lupe, Saigon, Rich Boy, Plies, Gorilla Zoe, Young Dro, Joell Ortiz, Papoose, Crooked