For the past two years, the staff at XXL Magazine has compiled a list of 10 artists who appear on the cover of the premier magazine. The group is known as the Freshman 10, a compilation of 10 “new” artists who XXL feels have generated a major buzz and may be one of the next big stars in rap. Thus far, the magazine has made some very good predicitons, with such artists as Kid CuDi, B.o.B and Wale going on to have very successful debut albums, as well as Wiz Khalifa, J. Cole and Big Sean creating major buzz through mainstream media. There have been some major snubs as well, with Drake and Nicki Minaj being left off of the list. With the announcement being months away, I’ve decided to try my hand and predict some of the Freshman 10 for 2011:
Diggy Simmons

This is an obvious choice. Son of a Hip-Hop legend, extreme popularity, major label signing and a serious flow to go with it, Diggy Simmons is a sure in for the cover. He exploded onto the scene with his “Made You Look” freestyle, which led to him inking a deal with Atlantic records. MTV nominated Diggy for “Newcomer of the Year” along with artists such as Wiz Khalifa and Justin Bieber. His latest mixtape “Airborne” is critically acclaimed, he’s a member of the rap super-group All-City Chess Club along with heavyweights like Lupe Fiasco, Wale and J. Cole, & he’s already been working with music producing legend Pharrell. He’s the real deal.
Jay Electronica

Lyrically, he’s probably one of my favorite artists out. The New Orleans native isn’t your typical south rapper. He was probably known most as being the father to Erykah Badu’s daughter until he released “Exhibit” singles, most notably Exhibit C with super-producer Just Blaze and had the greater NYC region buzzing before expanding that popularity globally, leading to him signing to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.
Kendrick Lamar

Straight outta Compton, Kendrick Lamar isn’t your generic LA rapper with lyrics about gang violence. He has a very unique flow, but his delivery is very dope and his lyrics are full of content. I first heard of him when he remade the Jay-Z song Empire State of Mind. Recently, he received a huge co-sign from West-coast rap founder Dr. Dre, so I’m sure he’ll get the nod from XXL.

While we’re on Dr. Dre, Interscope Records/Shady Records might have found a gem. He’s from Alabama, he’s white, he skateboards, he drinks… heavily, and he raps. But don’t get mistake, he’s definitely Hip-Hop. He has one of the most unique deliveries I’ve ever heard. He gained a lot of attention for his feature on Juelz Santana’s Mixin Up The Medicine and his mixtape Trunk Muzik propelled him to underground stardom. He’s often compared to label head Eminem, but he’s nothing we’ve EVER heard before.
CyHi Da Prynce

Anytime you have a Kanye West co-sign, good things are bound to happen. The Chicago native and G.O.O.D. Music signee has been everywhere the past year. He’s made appearances on a number of West’s records, including being featured on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which may be the album of 2010. He also released his own mixtape, Royal Flush, to critical acclaim.
Dom Kennedy

Question: Why has Dom Kennedy not been on the cover the last 2 years? The West-Coast rapper has been one of the biggest acts in California since his 2008 release of 25th Hour. Since, he’s been a staple in the mixtape scene, collabing with artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y, Big Sean, Asher Roth and Fly.Union. This is the year he makes it.

Tyga may be the face of the new West-Coast rap movement. The Young Money artist has been on the scene since his 2008 release Coconut Juice, and exploded into mainstream since. With hit records like Bed Rock and Dueces under his belt, as well as the success of his 2010 individual mixtape release Well Done & collaboration mixtape Fan Of A Fan with Chris Brown, Tyga has become one of the rising stars in rap. Is it possible that XXL passes on a YMCM rapper for the 3rd time?
Thee Tom Hardy

I’ve seen that XXL has developed quite a fondness of Thee Tom Hardy, posting a number of his songs on the sites blog. But do not get it confused, that is not the only reason he’s on our list. The North Carolina rapper, signed by legendary producer 9th Wonder is the truth, erecting memories of the golden era of Hip-Hop with dope metaphors over a sample-based beat. His 2010 release Secret of the Green Magic has garnered a lot of attention from a number of high-profiled media outlets, and the momentum will just continue.
Mac Miller

No major label? No major co-sign? No problem. The Pittsburgh native has created a major buzz through utilizing the internet and releasing good music. His 2010 mixtape K.I.D.S. has reached 90k downloads since its release, as well as being featured on popular hip-hop blogs across the country.

Vado is easily the hottest underground rapper in New York. An affiliate of The Diplomats, Vado has been the center of a lot of controversy in 2010, whether it be the controversial statements made by childhood friend & Young Money artist Jae Millz, to “beef” with J. Cole to Justin Bieber freestyling over his beats, he’s been a constant in the ear of New York fans. But he’s also made some pretty dope music, and is definitely looked upon as the standard in New York rap today.
What do you think? Who did we miss? Drop a comment and let us know!