Torch hits on six of 10 XXL Freshman Class of 2020 predictions; entire class is more than worthy


Back in August of 2020, XXL magazine announced their Freshman Class for this year. Annually, ten artists are selected to the lineup whom voters feel are rising stars in the rap industry. Earlier this year, The Torch made its predictions for this year’s selections. Read on to see how our predictions matched up with XXL’s official choices.

The Torch was able to guess six of the ten artists who were chosen: NLE Choppa, Lil Tjay, Polo G, Lil Keed, Jack Harlow, and Calboy. Apart from the discussed reasoning in our earlier issue, these rappers have made their case even clearer since then. 

NLE Choppa released his anticipated Top Shotta, which includes the tracks “Narrow Road” featuring Lil Baby, “Shotta Flow 4” featuring Chief Keef, and “Shotta Flow 5.” The success of the album along with NLE Choppa’s former releases solidified his spot on the list

Lil Tjay came out with an EP titled Stage of Emergency. Lil Tjay, the self-proclaimed King of New York, released a total of seven tracks, which often featured many other New York artists such as Fivio Foreign, Jay Critch, and Pop Smoke. 

Polo G dropped THE GOAT, which many people believed was one of the best albums of the year. “Flex” featuring Juice WRLD was one of the best songs on the entire album, along with “21” and “Be Something” featuring Lil Baby. His appearance on Lil Durk’s “3 Headed Goat” and Murda Beatz’s “DOORS UNLOCKED” along with the success of his album almost guaranteed him a position on this year’s roster.

Lil Keed also dropped a project. Trapped on Cleveland 3 acts as the sequel to previous albums. He shines on “Obama Coupe” while receiving help from his YSL team: Gunna on “Fox 5” and Young Thug on “Hibachi” and “Kiss Em Peace.” He was seen as a lock for this year any way; therefore, the album proved why he belonged on the list.

Jack Harlow remixed his song “WHATS POPPIN” and turned it into an absolute megahit.  Obtaining verses from DaBaby, Tory Lanez, and the legendary Lil Wayne, Jack Harlow shows the world he is bigger than what everyone thought months back. The track peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and has stayed in the top 10 ever since. The artist of the song that many believe was the song of the summer surely deserves to be a part of the list.

Calboy released a deluxe version, a common theme of 2020, to his Long Live The Kings. Along with the original songs, “Clueless,” “Rounds” featuring Fivio Foreign, and “Holy Water” were all standouts from the release. 

Our predicted artists that weren’t selected were Lil Tecca, Don Toliver, Stunna 4 Vegas, and Doja Cat. According to XXL editor-in-chief Vanessa Satten, Toliver was originally selected for the list; however, he told the magazine that he didn’t want to participate in the various activities that a freshman must do, such as the freestyles and cyphers that are highly anticipated by fans.

Lil Tecca’s manager announced via Twitter that the rapper and his team declined the opportunity to be on the list. This was most likely done because the rapper felt he was already big enough and didn’t need to be on the list. Given his current fame and success, that may be true. Other artists who have declined the spot in the past include the late Juice WRLD, Young Thug, and Rich the Kid.

Doja Cat may have been declined the opportunity to be a part of this year’s list due to racist behavior surfacing on the internet back in May. Along with this, she isn’t the typical female rapper as she is more of a R&B/Soul musician, so the magazine may have felt other rappers deserved the position over her.

Stunna 4 Vegas was simply less of a guarantee on our part than all of the other rappers. We believed that he could occupy one of the last positions; however, very easily could another rapper take his spot on the list. Although he had a great year and has had some hit songs, being one of the top ten new artists isn’t easy in the slightest.

The artists who were selected that we didn’t predict are 24kGoldn, Fivio Foreign, Mulatto, Rod Wave, Baby Keem, and Chika.

24kGoldn earned his spot for good reason. Prior to his selection, his hit song “Valentino” peaked at #92 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The track’s powerful hook along with multiple verses previews the 19 year old’s versatility. “CITY OF ANGELS” was another big song off of his DROPPED OUTTA COLLEGE project. If XXL needed more reasons to choose him, he dropped his collaboration with iann dior titled “Mood” back in July. The song blew up on TikTok and has recently reached the top 10 on Billboard Hot 100 at the #8 spot. 

24kGoldn also appeared frequently on Internet Money’s B4 The Storm album. “Take It Slow” featured him and TyFontaine while he was able to join forces with Wiz Khalifa to create “Giddy Up,” one of the best songs on the entire album. As his popularity continues to grow, it seems more obvious on why he was selected by XXL.

Fivio Foreign, after a death scare back in August, earned his redemption when XXL announced he was a Freshman later in the month. The Brooklyn drill rapper rose to fame when he released “Big Drip.” The song was later remixed with Lil Baby and Quavo as features, which only increased the noise he was making in the industry.

Fivio has featured on many legends’ songs. Back in May, he had one of his best verses on Drake’s “Demons” while more recently appearing on “Spicy” by Nas. The fact that these veterans notice his potential should solidify his spot on the list.

When the name Fivio Foreign comes up, one can’t simply forget his roots. He represents the state of New York as strong as anyone. He does so by collaborating with other New York rappers, such as Lil Tjay on “Zoo York” and Pop Smoke on “Showin Off, Pt. 1,” “Showin Off, Pt. 2,” and “Sweetheart.” As Lil Tjay was also selected and Pop Smoke, before his death, was also selected, it is no wonder why Fivio Foreign appears on this year’s issue.

Mulatto was one of two female artists on the list. Last month, she dropped her debut studio album Queen of Da Souf. The release debuted on the Billboard 200 chart, which ranks the top projects of rap. Reaching the #44 spot, it is safe to say that she has a lot more success to come and great potential.

From her album, she obtained features from 21 Savage, 42 Dugg, and Gucci Mane. The latter appeared on one of the top songs from the entire project “Muwop.” Her biggest track “B*tch From Da Souf” earned her first appearance on the Hot 100 at the #95 spot. Saweetie and Trina were featured on the remix, which only made the tune more of a hit. Mulatto has a bright future ahead, and the XXL selection definitely previews her to a bigger audience than ever before.

Rod Wave has been making noise over the past year, releasing multiple projects and many hit songs. His emotional and moving style has made him very unique in an industry that is appearing more ubiquitous as time goes on.

Rod Wave’s latest two albums, Pray 4 Love and Ghetto Gospel both reached the Billboard 200 at the respectable positions of #2 and #10. From the latter, “Cuban Links” featuring Kevin Gates was the top charting song from the project at #92. “Heart on Ice (Remix)” featuring Lil Durk was another top song from the project. From his more recent album, plenty of songs had chart success: “Girl of My Dreams” (#65), “Rags2Riches” featuring ATR Son Son (#12), “Thief in the Night” (#74), “Pray 4 Love” (#67), “The Greatest” (#78), “Ribbon in the Sky” (#84), “F**k the World” (#64), “I Remember” (#77), “Thug Life” (#95), “No Weakness” (#99), and “Letter from Houston” (#62). 

Clearly, simply seeing all the success that Rod Wave has had with this album, one can only imagine what a list without him would be like. He is clearly loved by his fans, and his future is only getting brighter as he continues to drop music and chart on the top lists.

Baby Keem is another teenage phenomenon added to the list this year. When listening to his music, he might remind fans of the legendary Kendrick Lamar with the tone and cadence he uses on his songs. The two artists are actually cousins, and Baby Keem co-wrote “NILE” by Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé

Baby Keem has done a lot more than simply co-write a song. His latest mixtape DIE FOR MY B**CH was one of the top projects from 2019. “STATS” and “MOSHPIT” reveal the vast creativity endorsed by the artist, along with humorous lyrics that completely shock listeners. His biggest track “ORANGE SODA” peaked at #98 on the Hot 100. The beat is completely floated on by Baby Keem. The entire album received high praise from Drake when he said it was one of his top two favorite albums of 2019. If icons, such as Drake and Kendrick Lamar see the talent in Baby Keem, XXL’s choice cannot be questioned.

Lastly, Chika was the final member of this year’s list. She rose to fame on several occasions. Back in 2016, she seemed to mock the newly elected president on Instagram. She also freestyled over a Kanye West beat to address his support for President Trump.

Earlier this year, Chika dropped her second EP INDUSTRY GAMES. In only seven songs, the rapper packs a quick punch and shows off her potential. “SONGS ABOUT YOU” features a relaxing beat and allows Chika to do her thing. The hook leaves listeners in awe as if they should’ve known this song before. “BALENCIES” discusses her tendency to help others while her problems need to be addressed. She raps, “I’m fightin’ everybody demons but can’t face mine.” She is definitely the most underrated artist of the class, and XXL choosing her should open the eyes of fans and give her the fame that she definitely deserves.

The 2020 XXL Freshman Class will be one to remember. In such a chaotic year, rap fans were given some sense of normalcy when the annual list came out. Hopefully, the artists prove the magazine right and continue to please fans with their art. On the XXL Youtube page, the highly anticipated cyphers and freestyles for each of the selected artists can be viewed and enjoyed by fans.