Predicting XXL Magazine’s 2020 Freshman Class

NLE Choppa (left), Lil Tecca (center) and Doja Cat (right) have earned the right to claim XXL Magazine's Freshmen Class status.

NLE Choppa (left), Lil Tecca (center) and Doja Cat (right) have earned the right to claim XXL Magazine’s Freshmen Class status.

XXL magazine annually chooses around ten upcoming artists in the world of music to preview to the world. Although most of these artists are already very well known, the nominee as a Freshman is an accomplishment held very high in pop culture. XXL attempts to choose artists who can use the fame or those who have had such an amazing first year on the scene that a spot on the list is only deserving. With the Coronavirus crisis, no one really knows how the list will be announced since being selected requires the artist to appear for a photoshoot, interview, and a popular freestyle and cypher with other artists. What we at The Torch know for sure is that the following artists deserve to be on this year’s list.

Memphis Rapper NLE Choppa is a top-tier candidate for this year’s selection. He should be selected due to the vast amount of hits he has at his young age of 17. His most popular song, “Shotta Flow” is certified platinum from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and peaked at #36 on Billboard Hot100 list. Choppa linked up with 2019 Freshman Blueface and Lyrical Lemonade’s Cole Bennett to drop a music video for the remix of the song on YouTube, which has amassed nearly 150 million views. The sequels, “Shotta Flow 2” and “Shotta Flow 3” were also certified gold. “Camelot” allowed him to own another platinum certification, and, with the remix featuring BlocBoy JB, Yo Gotti, and Moneybagg Yo, the song only gets better. More recently, he dropped a single featuring Roddy Ricch, another 2019 Freshman, titled “Walk Em Down,” which is scheduled to be the lead single of his next album. Although his EP, Cottonwood, wasn’t that great in our opinion, he definitely deserves a spot on this year’s list.

Many could have made the argument for Lil Tecca to be a Freshman in 2019, but he wasn’t selected. As another year has passed, he has solidified his spot on the list, and it would be robbery for him not to be on this year’s list. He and Cole Bennett have worked together many times to shine light on Tecca’s superstar ability and talent. The release of his top single “Ransom” featured a music video with over 235 million views. The song absolutely blew up and peaked at #4 and was certified platinum twice by the RIAA. Late rapper Juice WRLD hopped on a remix, which led to more buzz around Lil Tecca’s debut project. His mixtape We Love You Tecca featured both versions of “Ransom” and many other hits. Four other songs were able to reach the Billboard Hot 100 with “Love Me,” “Did It Again,” “Shots,” and “Out of Luck” earning respectable peaks of #97, #64, #84, and #80. Trippie Redd linked with Tecca on “How I Was Raised,” which was one of the top songs on Trippie’s album. Lil Tecca’s next album with a possible title of Virgo World looks to be a fantastic work with “All Star” featuring Lil Tjay (more on him soon) and “IDK” already being great lead singles.

Lil Tjay is another young artist with enough talent to be on the list. His melodic style and fast flow make him unique in a genre where many are starting to sound the same. He used this approach on his latest album True 2 Myself. “Ruthless,” featuring Jay Critch, is one of the top songs on the project and is certified gold. “Brothers” is certified platinum while “Leaked” is gold. In our opinion, “Hold On” is one of his best songs, although it didn’t earn any certifications or rankings on the chart.  His most popular single, “F.N” was certified platinum while peaking at #56. Tjay has been on a run in 2020 so far as he started the year off with “20/20,” which peaked at #94 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. He was featured on Lil Tecca’s “All Star” and helped Polo G have one of the top songs of 2019 in “Pop Out.” The track went platinum four times over and peaked just outside of the top ten at #11.

Polo G is yet another growing rapper that belongs on this year’s list. His name grew and practically went viral upon the release of his four-time platinum song “Pop Out” featuring Lil Tjay. Polo G continued to dominate with this song as he remixed it with verses from Atlanta artists Lil Baby and Gunna, which was titled “Pop Out Again.” He uses such great emotion in his songs from the experiences he has lived in order to make such great tracks. His debut album Die a Legend contained both versions of “Pop Out,” the platinum certified “Finer Things,” and “Through da Storm.” He has continued his success in 2020, releasing “Go Stupid” with NLE Choppa and Stunna 4 Vegas and featuring production from Mike Will Made It and Tay Keith. The song was able to go viral on TikTok, which helped it peak at #60 on the Billboard Hot 100. As he continues to drop hits after hits, Polo G is a deserving XXL Freshman candidate.

Lil Keed is yet another YSL Records out of Atlanta artist that has achieved fame due to great songs. He would be the second member of Young Thug’s record label to reach the status of a XXL Freshman in two years after Gunna in 2019. His high-pitch style, which is similar to Thug’s, has earned him many fans. His debut album Long Live Mexico, which honors a late friend of his named Mexico, had many great songs, such as “Ride The Wave,” “Rockstar” featuring NAV, and “Million Dollar Mansion” featuring Young Thug. “Snake,” in particular, has also used TikTok to its advantage as it has sparked a viral challenge in recent weeks, which has led to even more success for Keed. We believe Keed is already pretty well known in the hip-hop community; however, a Freshman accolade would bring him to higher levels and boost his fame even more, which would solidify him as another Atlanta superstar.

Doja Cat is the lone female artist of this year’s predictions, and she belongs for great reasons. Her latest album Hot Pink had plenty of catchy songs that appeal to many. Once again, a rising star used TikTok to grow their platform as her song “Say So” created an entire dance challenge on the site. Her name has expanded in the community since then. The track peaked at #7 on Billboard Hot 100, and, as of April 2020, it is the most streamed song by a female this year. It also has a music video with over 65 million views. Doja collaborated with Tyga on her already popular track “Juicy.” It peaked at #46, which shows that she isn’t simply a one-hit wonder. Her music video with Tyga for this song broke 100 million views as well. Doja Cat simply is a breath of fresh air and an appearance of hers on this year’s list should be an easy decision for XXL.

Don Toliver has blown up over the past two years, and his spot on the list is almost guaranteed, given that he isn’t too prominent. Don was signed to Travis Scott’s record label Cactus Jack Records. He rose to fame as the artist with spotless melodies on Travis Scott’s “Can’t Say.” He continued to use his God-given voice on his 2019 track “No Idea,” which went TikTok famous and thus contributed to more fame for the artist. It peaked at #43 on the Billboard Hot 100. In December of 2019, he was a part of a collaboration project that featured those on Travis Scott’s label, titled JACKBOYS. He stole the show by singing the hooks on “GANG GANG” and “HAD ENOUGH” while dominating the majority of the song “WHAT TO DO?,” which peaked at #56 on the Billboard Hot 100. The great Eminem included Tolliver on his track “No Regrets,” and being asked for a feature from a great artist like Eminem is an accomplishment not many can claim. As a solo artist, he has had success as well. His debut album, Heaven or Hell peaked at #7 on the Billboard 200 list that ranks music projects. “Euphoria” featuring Travis Scott and Kaash Paige was a fan favorite along with “Cardigan” and “After Party.” The 25 year old also obtained a feature from Wiz Khalifa on “Back Up,” which was a part of the Madden 20 soundtrack.

Stunna 4 Vegas is the 3rd artist on the 2020 song “Go Stupid” that we predict to be on the XXL Freshman List in 2020. His verse on the song does exactly what the song’s title says, and Stunna has other great works that have put him in the spotlight so far in his career. “UP THE SMOKE” with Offset is possibly the best song from his 2020 studio album Rich Youngin. Offset assists Stunna in a song that seems to get better the more one listens to it. “DO DAT” featuring common collaborator and 2019 Freshman DaBaby and Lil Baby is another popular pick among fans as they love the teamwork and chemistry the three artists have together. From his 2019 album BIG 4x, “Ashley,” featuring DaBaby, has broken over 25 million views of its music video on YouTube. Stunna 4 Vegas is only going to get bigger as he continues to drop catchy songs with other artists and a spot on the list will only aid his growth.

Kentucky rapper Jack Harlow has been in the game for years now; however, he has erupted in 2020 with help from his track “WHATS POPPIN” that has taken TikTok and the rest of the internet by storm. Lyrical Lemonade had the music video on its YouTube channel amass nearly 30 million views. It also reached a respectable #48 on the Billboard Hot 100 and served as the lead single for his Sweet Action EP. Harlow’s pitch for being a part of the list on the XXL Instagram accurately explains why he should be a Freshman as he is super-relatable and unique. Bryson Tiller helped Harlow out on “THRU THE NIGHT” which was a popular song off Harlow’s 2019 mixtape Confetti. Harlow’s catchy flows, top notch lyrics, and his likeable character makes him a great option for this year’s selection.

Calboy highlights the 10th and final spot of the 2020 campaign. The 21 year old has had a short career so far, but he is continuing to grow due to the success of many different songs. His 2018 hit “Envy Me” has a well-known hook on it that allowed it to go double platinum and peak at #31 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. His 2019 EP Wildboy included the track and others, such as “Chariot” featuring Meek Mill, Young Thug, and Lil Durk. On this song, Calboy proves he can hold his own with other artists who have already established themselves in the game. In 2020, Calboy is off to a hot start with his EP Long Live the Kings that had “Barbarian” featuring Lil Tjay and “Givenchy Kickin” featuring Lil Baby and Lil Tjay. “Barbarian” has a YouTube music video with over 5 million views. Although he isn’t the biggest artist as of now, a spot on the list would definitely boost the buzz around his name and possibly transform him into one of the genre’s favorites.

The 2020 XXL Freshman List is one to be excited for. Outside of these artists, many others have been working hard, grinding for years, to possibly be selected. These are the artists we believe to be most deserving of the honors; however, XXL has years of experience with selections, so fans should know that the chosen artists will represent the class extremely well.

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