XXL Freshmen Cover 2013

Well it’s here guys.  The XXL Freshmen list has arrived.  It is actually by FAR the best cover since the 2009 cover and just like the 2009 cover it has it’s high points…. and it has it’s low points.  Is this turn around too late though?  I find myself certainly giving much less of a shit about this cover than I did two years ago.  Three straight years of just TERRIBLE awful shit covers has dulled my excitement for these fresh faced MCs.  I don’t know if it’s even still the career booster it used to be but if it is I am exceedingly happy for Logic, Schoolboy Q, and Joey Bada$$ (not that he needs the boost).  If you don’t know the names on this list… now you know.  And I shall tell you what you need to know:

Freshmen XXL Ranking:


1. Joey Bada$$

Joey Bada$$

This NYC MC is the face of the renowned Pro Era.  He spits like Nas and writes like Big L.  If you haven’t heard of Joey Bad and Pro Era you either don’t listen to rap or you got your head stuck up your ass a year ago and the doctors finally pried that shit out.  Joey is the best rapper on this list, but not by that much the competition is stiff this year.

His shirt is in fact the best thing about this cover.  If you don’t know who that is, Joey is sporting the face of the late great Capital Steez fellow Pro Era member and by all accounts Joey’s best friend who died late last year.


Essential Listening: 1999

Why he made the cover: By far the mot popular and talented rapper to emerge in 2012 and is the only one on this cover who was 100% guaranteed to make the cover (unless he had turned it down like his NYC cohort A$AP Rocky).

Who is he most like from ’09: Kid Cudi

Why: Unique swag, rabid following, sick lyricist even sicker live, likely to become the first man in history to die of a weed OD.

2. Logic


Logic is a young Maryland rapper, he’s actually been putting in a lot of work for a long time now but much like Wale and XV his hometown is holding him back, you can be assured if he lived in New York or Los Angeles you would’ve seen him on this cover last year.  He is lyrically the most skilled rapper on this cover and is the most unlikely of rappers on this cover (except maybe Trinidad James but that’s only because it’s amazing he manages to find his way out of bed in the morning).

Essential Listening: Young Sinatra

Why he made the cover: Pure talent.  It’s nice to see a white rapper make it who isn’t famous at least MOSTLY because he’s white (admittedly he is half white but he’s light and doesn’t say nigga so… close enough for the point I’m making).

Who is he most like from ’09: Blu

Why: Dangerous amount of music knowledge, super depressed, if you’re not rewinding him you’re not listening, also… super happy, dresses weird (luv ya Blu AND Logic but some times I wonder)

3. Schoolboy Q

Schoolboy Q

Kendrick Lamar’s deputy and partner in crime.  Don’t let his looks fool you, he isn’t a gangster rapper and is in fact one of the best West Coast Rappers out.  Behind Q and Kendrick Lamar TDE has become one of the biggest if not THE biggest name in good Cali rap.

Essential Listening: Habits & Contradictions

Why he made the cover: Habits & Contradictions, honestly.  Q was good before obviously, and will continue to be great after.  But H & C was genius.  It doesn’t hurt that he is in the same crew as the hottest rapper in the game right now.

Who is he most like from ’09: Wale

Why: Sometimes he’s a punchliner and sometimes he is real but he brings fire with each one, we’re not worried that he will ever fall off (we were wrong about Wale at least until now, looks like he’s coming back), often goes harder on features than the main artist (sorry A$AP but Schoolboy made you look silly)

4. Action Bronson

Action Bronson

I’m not a big Action fan, but not because he’s not a perfectly good rapper.  He is, as he showed with his two 2012 releases: Blue Chips and Rare Chandeliers.  Love him or hate him you will not hear someone like Bronson in the game now.  Joey Bada$$ maybe the face of the return of New York hip-hop but Bronson was making good NYC shit before you knew Joey’s name.

Essential Listening: Blue Chips

Why he made the cover: He’s had the appropriate amount of buzz for three years now but with the two consecutive releases of, by far, his best work it was a done deal.

Who is he most like from ’09: Curren$y

Why: Born a decade late, lazy flow, people site his repetitive topic choice as a lack of talent, doesn’t give a fuck what you think, in 10 years could be running rap…. or GM

5. Ab-Soul (tie)


What can you say about the second member of TDE to make this list and Cali native?… idk and I don’t intend to embarass my self trying to explain this enigma to you so here.  Just get hip:


Essential Listening: Control System

Why he made the cover: TDE is fucking taking over (just so we’re clear all four members have made this cover), he sounds like a lot of people… but he’s way better than they are, in every song he has one line that either makes you laugh or think for the rest of the day

Who is he most like from ’09: Mickey Factz

Why: No one gets him, he’s a closet nerd, clearly writes a whole song just so he can say one line but never disappoints, knows how to surround himself with dope rappers better than anyone in the game (Mickey Factz: The Cool Kids, Ab-Soul: Danny Brown)

5. Dizzy Wright

Dizzy Wright

Last year XXL introduced us to the hard-to-love Hopsin and this year they bring us Funk Volumes second man, the loveable Dizzy Wright.  It’s very clear from the quality of Dizzy’s music that he is the brains of FV he out shine’s his crews leader whenever he steps to the mic, Wright has the best flow on this cover and definitely has the ability to drop a sick line or two.  He is weirdly obsessed with how real he is and how fake ALL of you are.

Essential Listening: SmokeOut Conversations

Why he made the cover: Y’all voted for him

Who is he most like from ’09: Asher Roth

Why: He too is the people’s champ, Dizzy Wright embodies Angry Black teens Asher embodies high white teens, very talented… unfortunately  prone to poor performances

7. Travi$ Scott

Travi$ Scott

Well done Kanye.  Well done. Travi$ Scott is good… at least he’s been pretty good on all 10 songs he’s released.  There really isn’t much to say about this guy yet.  Talented and lucky a deadly combination, and with Kanye on his team he is likely to continue/start to drop bangers.

Essential Listening: Just google the nigga just listen to ALL his music it’ll take you like an hour… tops

Why he made the cover: Kanye & Quintana

Who is he most like from ’09: N/A

PS: He is both responsible for this


and unfortunately this

So we’ll see how this kid’s career goes

8. Angel Haze

Angel Haze

Well I’ll tell you one thing about Angel Haze… she’s not Rapsody

This is Rapsody… get hip:

Angel Haze is not bad but she’s also nothing special.  Let’s be clear, she is NOT Nicki and she’s DEFINITELY not the garbage that they call Iggy Azalea “The first female freshman”, but she is not a good rapper, but such is the curse of female rappers since… rap began.  If you really like female rappers give Haze a listen, but she gets boring quick because not only does she sound like every female rapper ever she doesn’t ever change her style either.  It’s good to see some females on the cover but I think just like the white kids that make it, it needs to be earned and not just affirmative action.  Unfortunately Haze was definitely Macklemored onto this cover, if she were a man her ass would’ve been relegated to the cover of Jet (do they still publish Jet?).

Essential Listening: The Idea of Beautiful

If you must listen to Angel Haze give the Voice EP a listen

Why she made the cover: I guess Azealia was busy?

Who is she most like from ’09: Cory Gunz

Why: Appeals to people who like homogeneous music, claims to freestyle on everything… probably doesn’t, fans will NEVER understand why you don’t like them

9. Kirko Bangz

Kirko Bangz

I do NOT hate Kirko Bangz but if I could shoot this nigga’s name in the face I would, the only way this man’s name could’ve NOT been the worst on the cover was if Chinx Drugz made it.  That being said, Kirko makes fun music.  It’s catchy it’s entertaining and it’ll get stuck in your head.  Is it life changing… no. Will it make you think… no. But hey neither was Pixar’s Up and that shit got nominated for an Oscar.

Essential Listening: any of the Procrastination Kills mixtapes

Why he made the cover: His mass appeal and talent for making 1 good song out of every 10 makes him a possible star in the future… hence “freshmen”

Who is he most like from ’09: B.o.B.

Why: Mass appeal, fun to listen to, will never make you think but will continue to release consistent music whether you think that music is consistently bad or good

10. Chief Keef

Chief Keef

Bang Bang! Chicago gangster masquerading as a rapper made 2012 his bitch for sure.  Yes all of his songs sound exactly the same but who cares that bass will take your virginity. A Fart Nigga #ShitIDontLike

Essential Listening: Finally Rich

Why he made the cover: Young Chop… Bang Bang!

Who is he most like from ’09: N/A

11. Trinidad Jame$

Trinidad James

Did I know this was going to happen… of course.  Am I happy about it… no.  Do I understand it… yeah sure fine.  Look if you like Trinidad James you most likely have a tumor applying pressure to the intelligence segment of your parietal lobe get that shit checked out before you die… or don’t, I don’t care.

Essential Listening: Don’t

Why he made the cover: “Popped a molly I’m sweatin'” & “Nigga nigga nigga nigga”

Who is he most like from ’09: Ace Hood

Why: Not good, made it because the radio exists and top 40 DJs get girls drunk as hell

Peep the preview here see what I got right and when I was talking out my ass: https://popcultureche.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/xxl-freshmen-2013-nominees/

XXL asks us…

13 Best Ever

and I answer them: I don’t know let’s find out.

Class of ’13 ratings out of 10:

Joey Bada$$:  9.2/10

Logic: 9/10

Schoolboy Q: 8.2/10

Action Bronson: 7.9/10

Ab-Soul: 7.4/10

Dizzy Wright: 7.4/10

Tavi$ Scott: 6.9/10

Angel Haze: 5.8/10

Kirko Bangz: 5.7/10

Chief Keef: 5.0/10

Trinidad James: 3.4/10

Class of ’13 score: 6.9/10

Class of ’09 ratings out of 10:

rating when cover came out not today

Blu: 9.4/10 (-) | 8.9/10

Wale: 9.0/10 (-) | 8.5/10

Kid Cudi: 8.9/10 (-) | 8.1/10

Charles Hamilton: 8.5/10 (-) | 0/10 (I wait for his return with baited breath… his ACTUAL return not bullshit recorded in his bathroom on his 8GB refurbished Sony Walkman)

Curren$y: 7.8/10 (+) |  8.8/10

B.o.B.: 7.5/10 (-) | 6.9/10

Mickey Factz: 7.0/10 (-) | 6.2/10

Asher Roth: 6.2/10 (=)

Cory Gunz: 5.0/10 (=)

Ace Hood: 4.3/10 (=)

Class of ’09 score: 7.36/10

(+) indicates an improvement since 2009

(-) indicates a decline since 2009

(=) indicates no change since 2009

So my answer to you XXL is not quite but nice try, A for effort.  Definitely better than the 2010, 11, and 12 covers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: