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WIRTB: The XXL Freshman List 2016 and 2007

By @SpeedontheBeat

Hide your kids, hide your wives, and hide your favorite artists. We're back to ripping rappers up in here. I'm, as always, Speed on the Beat and I've got a question. I didn't want to talk on it, because so many folks have. Like, quite possibly every writer who's worth their weight in digital downloads. But, I've got to ask. Was this year's XXL Freshman List really that bad? I mean, we almost got another DMV head on there, had Jay IDK actually got selected (sorry, bruh).

But, was it that bad? Lil' Dicky and 'em have bars and Anderson .Paak has some crafty-ass songs, such as the original version of "Might Be" that DJ Luke Nasty..."covered."


I kind of feel that artists and fans got a bit...pissed, I'll say, because there were artists such as Desiigner and Lil Yachty on the list that once featured Lupe, Big K.R.I.T., Logic, and Kendrick Lamar. But, let's be real here, guys. For every Kendrick on the XXL List, we got a Trinidad James.


Even though I love "Just A Lil' Thick," which features Lil' Dicky, it's not what some folks would consider "serious" rap. It's a song about showing love to women who aren't stick thin, which, even with its pseudo-feminism meets mansplaining craziness, is fun. And that's all it is. It's not meant to comment on the police state we live in. For every Lupe, we got a Chief Keef. The point that I'm making is that the XXL list usually tries to balance out between what's hot in the streets and what's hot in the blogs (even though they miss a lot).

So, did they get it wrong this year?

Ehhhhh...yes and no. Trap rap is what's dominating the charts and the listeners' ears. It's not just about boombap anymore. Will many of the artists listed be relevant in a couple years to the mainstream? Probably not. But, every list that XXL has put out had artists, on both "sides" of the "real" argument (ugh), that flopped or didn't live up to the lofty expectations. Let's, for comparison's sake, look at the 2007 list.


Saigon: He had The Greatest Story Never Told, which was a great album. Borderline classic, even. It dropped in 2011, four years after his XXL placement. Sure, he had some dope mixtapes. But, by the time TGSNT finally dropped, most of the buzz--for legal and other reasons--fell off. Some people probably remember him, now, more for his LHHNY appearance than his bars. And that's fucked up.

Plies: Similar to Saigon, he's dropped a radio hit every now and again and has maintained some relevance via social media. Actually, Plies probably benefited the most from social media. Without it, there'd be no Ain't No Mixtape Bih, no "Ritz Carlton," no "Just The Tip." Plies spoke, in his music, for the folks who were down and the folks who thought they were down. Plus, let's be real. The guy made some "classic" street love tracks, like "Shawty." But, did he meet his full potential? Eh, not exactly. He gave us some solid memes, though.

Rich Boy: Whatever happened to him after Andre, Nelly, and MURPHY LEE (shoutout to Peagle) destroyed him on his own song? No, seriously. What happened to Rich Boy? I'm sure he's still, like me, doing the indie thing. But, damn. You go from having one of the biggest songs out over the course of two years to doing what I'm doing in terms of putting your music out/getting your music out (maybe)? There are a couple seats that any Rich Boy stans should be taking right about now to sit down in. Your boy fell off faster than a sticky note in the rain.

Gorilla Zoe: This former Boy N Da Hood eventually signed with Flo Rida, per Wikipedia. So, lemme get this straight. You go from being a "Hood Nigga" to signing with the guy who made "My House?" Way to diversify your portfolio, I guess?

Joell Ortiz and Crooked I/KXNG Crooked: They're both in Slaughterhouse. That's really all I can say. Take that how you want. I don't need Slaughterhouse stans in my mentions.

Boosie Badazz: He's got his legions of fans. He was, in some ways, a proto-trap version of Pimp C, in that being in prison only built his mystique up that much more. He also combated kidney cancer. So, shoutout to him. However, did he maintain the buzz he garnered in the 2007 XXL list? Kinda, yeah. His release was probably second only to Gucci's in terms of the pop it got from the Twitterverse. Now if only Webbie could rebound. His raunchy-ass tracks could probably survive the storm this go-around so much more.

Papoose: Same thing as Saigon. Sorry, Pap fans. I love "Alphabetical Slaughter" as much as anyone. But, he's probably known more now for planning his "official" wedding to Remy Ma on LHHNY than he is for being the same guy who dropped "Alphabetical Slaughter." Again, I like Pap. Direct your hate and "nigga you don' know what u talkin bout" tweets somewhere else, like towards the police state or something. Not me.

Young Dro: Same as Pap and Saigon, but on a lesser sc--wait, my bad. That's Young Joc. Geez, in the mid-2000s, there were so many "Youngs," my mom probably dropped a mixtape on the low. Young Dro, however, has maintained a pocket of fans who'll flock to his shit whenever it drops. But, again, he never really reached the heights that his XXL list indicated. He will, however, always be known for "Shoulder Lean." I don't know if that's good or bad, but it's more, musically, than some folks can claim.

Lupe Fiasco: It's Lupe fuckin' Fiasco. Do we really need to talk about his mark on the world and music (I've got a Food & Liquor retrospective dropping on the album's tenth anniversary on SpeedontheBeat.com, shameless plug).

So...in closing, was the 2016 XXL Freshman List really that bad? Yeah, kinda. But, no list has been without its confusing/sign-of-the-times choices. Does that mean that artists on this list are doomed to fail? Eh, not exactly. But, remember, artists. If you're placed on it, you're either going to be great...or you're going to end up being an answer to an obscure Jeopardy question about rap. So, to the Yachty haters and stans, I say this.

Chill the fuck out, all of you. Just enjoy your favorites and stop fighting over who made it onto XXL. Hell, XXL, in some ways, isn't even as relevant as it was five years ago, especially with many, many sites springing up and doing what XXL does better.

This has been another WIRTB with me, Speed on the Beat. I review the crap, so you don't have to.

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