Each year since 2007, one of the most highly-anticipated events in media and hip-hop has been the reveal of the XXL Freshman cover, which details the famed magazine’s picks for the 10 hottest up-and-comers in rap for the next 12 months. While there have been a few misses, for the most part placement on the list has been the launching pad for some of rap’s biggest names, including J. Cole, Future, Big Sean, and Kendrick Lamar (notably, Drake and Nicki Minaj were both either bypassed or refused).
Today (June 11), XXL revealed its 2018 picks, and for anyone who’s been listening to the radio or watching Spotify’s top playlists over the past year, there aren’t too many surprises. Florida is heavily represented with Lil Pump, whose “Eskeetit” and “Gucci Gang” have dominated charts for the past year, Ski Mask The Slump God, Smokepurpp, and anti-Soundcloud rapper, Wifisfuneral. Memphis’ Blocboy JB, who received Drake’s cosign and whose boisterous energy notoriously made 21 Savage look nervous in his “Rover 2.0” video, is featured, as well as Birmingham, Alamba’s YBN Nahmir, who caught a strong buzz after his song “Rubbin’ Off The Paint” went super viral. Stefflon Don, from London, rode the wave of Caribbean-influenced music and a few high-profile features to a spot, while Canton, Ohio’s Trippie Redd and Atlantan J. Cole signee J.I.D. round out the list.
A few names are pretty conspicuously absent, as Lil Skies turned down the 10th spot and his replacement, Rich The Kid, also refused to show up. Instagram rabble-rouser Tekashi69 is also a no-show despite his “Gummo” and “Billy” becoming monstrous hits. Perhaps his shenanigans overshadowed his musical output, as he was also denied entry to Hot 97’s Summer Jam festival over the weekend as well.
XXL will be releasing further content featuring these rappers, as well as hosting a showcase in Los Angeles in July.