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Introduction to the 2014 'Freshmen Class'

XXL's 2014 Freshman Class Cover
XXL's 2014 Freshman Class Cover
XXL Magazine

Yesterday, XXL Magazine released its 7th annual list of hip hop artists that are expected to make a break in the industry. Many successful hip hop artists have been named a Freshman in previous years such as Kendrick Lamar, Action Bronson, Danny Brown and even Mackelmore. Being named a Freshman is a huge opportunity for these newcomers. Here is a little introduction to the artists that are nominated this year:

Chance The Rapper

Chance the Rapper is a 21 year old from Chicago, Illinois. Chance is one of the most notable unsigned artists on the list this year. His mixtape 'Acid Rap' was one of the most successful mix tapes. 'Acid Rap' is certified platinum on and was nominated for Best Mixtape at the 2013 BET Awards. Chance The Rapper has worked with Twista, Action Bronson and even Justin Bieber. XXL is correct in putting Chance on the list but he’s been big for a while now.

Download 'Acid Rap' here

Rich Homie Quan

Rich Homie Quan is an Atlanta based artist and is most famous to people for his song 'Type of Way' released by Def Jam Recordings. Quan has been featured on tracks with YG, August Alsina and Yo Gotti. In 2013 he toured with one last year’s Freshman Trinidad James. Rich Homie Quan is a fresh face in the recent expansion of Atlanta hip hop artists.

Lil Durk

Chicago seems to have taken over this year’s cover. Lil Durk is also from Chicago and currently is most famous for his beef with Tyga. Lil Durk fired shots at Tyga on an Instagram video on April 26 and now the two are going at it. Besides that, Lil Durk is signed with Def Jam Recordings and is also affiliated with French Montana’s Coke Boyz. Lil Durk has an upcoming mixtape coming out titled ‘Signed To the Streets 2’ which is set to drop this year.

Jon Connor

Jon Connor is an underground new rapper from Flint, Michigan and is inspired by the old school greats like Jay Z and Eminem. Connor's has a deep lyrical value and old school vibes. On last years BET Awards Connor revealed that he signed with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath which is an extension of Interscope Records. Jon Connor’s most recent album ‘Unconscious State,’ which was released last summer, reached 24 on the U.S. rap charts. In March 2014 Connor started a project titled ‘#ConnorSeason’ which began with his own rendition of Ross and Hov’s ‘Devil Is A Lie.’ He then released a Kanye West inspired mixtape titled ‘The Late Registration Of A College Dropout Who Had A Dark Twisted Fantasy Of 808s And Heartbreak.’ Next on the table is a Notorious B.I.G. inspired mixtape. Jon Connor is a classic hip hop head.

Jarren Benton

Jarren Benton was awarded ‘People’s Choice’ award which means that the fans voted him on the cover. Benton is a 32 year old rapper from Georgia who is most notably affiliated with Hopsin’s independent album Funk Volume. Jarren has a distinct style of rap that is somewhat similar to Hopsin with talks on obscene images. His most recent album ‘My Grandma’s Basement’ was released summer 2013 and peaked at number 12 on the US rap chart. Benton has a strong following and will most likely get stronger after his new award.

Troy Ave

Troy Ave is an underground rapper from Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Troy has collaborated with infamous rappers such as Lloyd Banks, Pusha T and Mac Miller. In November 2013 he released his first studio album ‘New York City: The Album’ under BSB Records.

August Alsina

August Alsina is one of the two singers that appear on the cover. Alsina is a 21 year old R&B singer from New Orleans. His most recent album was released April 15, 2014 titled ‘Testimony.’ The album was released under Radio Killa Records and Def Jam. ‘Testimony’ reached number on the US R&B charts. August has collaborated with artists like Young Jeezy, Trinidad James and Rich Homie Quan.

Vic Mensa

Vic Mensa is ANOTHER young rapper from Chicago. At only 20 years old, the young rapper has already release two mixed tapes ‘INNANETAPE’ and ‘STRAIGHT UP.’ Mensa is a close affiliate with Chance The Rapper and even appeared on ‘Acid Rap.’ He used to be in a group titled Kids These days which broke up back in May 2013.

Lil Bibby

Yet another Chicago native, Lil Bibby is a young 20 years old. He is a young underground rapper with not a lot of released music but puts his word out there that he has a lot stirring. Bibby has been seen in the studio with Juicy J, Migos and Hit Boy. His newest project is called ‘Free Crack.’

Isaiah Rashad

Isaiah Rashad is most famous for being the newest TDE signee. Rashad is from Chattanooga, Tennessee and in January 2014 released his first EP titled ‘Cilvia Demo.’ The EP peaked to number 6 on the US rap charts and features rappers such as Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar and SZA. Time will only tell if he will become as successful as his fellow TDE members.

Ty Dolla $ign

Ty Dolla $ign is the most radio played artist on the cover. Currently he has two singles ‘Paranoid’ and ‘Or Nah.’ Ty is signed to Wiz Khalifa’s label Taylor Gand and Atlantic Records. He has worked with DJ Drama and DJ Mustard since 2011 and reached the first taste of fame when he wrote and produce ‘Toot It and Boot It’ for YG. His EP ‘Beach House EP’ was released January 2014 and has reached number 7 and on the US R&B charts.

Kevin Gates

Personally, Gates is the best rapper on the cover. Kevin Gates is from Baton Rouge, LA and is affiliated with Lil Boosie and Gucci Mane. In 2013 he released ‘The Lucas Brasi Story’ which immediately got him signed to Atlantic Records. From there, he has only grown and March this year he has released his newest mixtape ‘By Any Means’ which is getting a lot of buzz from fans and fellow artists alike.

Make sure to listen to the Freshmen's music. Next up in the next couple of months are interviews, freestyles and even a U.S. tour. Read the full story here.

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