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No, we don’t have inside information, and no, these aren’t OUR picks, we just think we have a pretty good ear for what’s happening in the industry. So place your bets, here are our predictions for XXL’s Freshman Class issue for 2014.

1. Jon Connor – This Flint, MI emcee has been slaying tracks on the mixtape scene, and received great critical acclaim with the release of his album, Unconscious State. What the album lacked in polish will surely be made up for on his major label debut, as he is now signed to Aftermath. Shoe-in.

2. Troy Ave – We think its pretty likely that we’ll be hearing an announcement of Troy Ave’s major label signing any day now, if not right around the time the XXL Freshman 2014 cover is released. Troy has a huge buzz in New York City, with the intent to bring back the sound curated by G-Unit and the Ruff Ryders, after southern styles of French Montana and A$AP Rocky have taken over the region.

3. Chance the Rapper – As we detailed in our review of Acid Rap, we don’t really see what the hype on Chance The Rapper is, but that’s probably because we are old and we don’t know shit about anything. The numbers on Chance don’t lie, and if anything, he is a healthy alternative to the detrimental-to-society rap that’s currently coming out of Chicago from any number of rappers with “Lil” attached to their name.

4. Isaiah Rashad – TDE’s buzz couldn’t be stronger at the moment, and their youngest-in-charge, Isaiah Rashad, proved to be worth the label’s endorsement with the release of Cilvia Demo. A timely release, which is likely to cement his place on this list, and secure him a deal with Interscope for his next project.

5. Problem – LA’s Problem has been putting it down for a minute now, with a brief breakthrough back in 2008 with “I’m Fucked Up”. His buzz resurfaced in the last year or so, thanks to his verse on E-40′s “Function”, and his comeback hit, “Like Whaaat?”, which was one of the biggest west-coast hits of the summer.

6. IamSu & Sage The Gemini – It’s likely that these two Bay Area HBK Gang reperesentatives will be treated as one entry on the list, much like Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul were last year, as they share an almost equal buzz, and Su was just as responsible for “Gas Pedal” crossing over as Sage. If it is narrowed down to one, Sage has the upper hand with “Red Nose” being an equally hot club cut of the moment.

7. Ty Dolla $ign – Ty broke through briefly in 2011 on “All Star”, which borrowed its melody from Swedish House Mafia’s “One”, as well as on YG’s “Toot It Or Boot It”, another artist who is currently receiving a second childhood. The success of both is owed to the DJ Mustard-led West Coast resurgence and creation of the “ratchet” sound, which is currently helping propel “Paranoid”-led Beach House EP to heavy buzz for a full-length debut.

8. Riff Raff - There’s always at least one melanin-deficient MC on the list, whether they have a legitimate buzz or not (ahem: Logic). We won’t be surprised to see walking trainwreck, Riff Raff, on this list, as he not only is making noise in the club with his current single, “How To Be The Man”, but also carries the backing of perhaps the most buzzworthy industry-wide producer of the moment, Diplo.

9. Rich Homie Quan – This list wouldn’t be complete without an Atlanta, GA representative, and aside from Migos, whom are likely to be excluded due to being a group, Rich Homie Quan held the biggest buzz this past year with “Type Of Way”. Mr. CEO is what his title say.

10. Gunplay - Although Gunplay’s legal troubles have gotten him more mainstream press than his music, MMG’s resident wild card is next to join the ranks of Meek Mill and Wale, thanks to his astute pen and underground buzz. The only thing we see holding him back is his name, which might not “sit well” on Wal-Mart shelves or Clear Channel radio playlists. 5-to-1 he’s called G-Play or GP when his album drops….

There you have it. We may be off slightly, but we’re guessing we’ll end up with at least a 70% by the time the list drops. Usually the list includes one female emcee as well, however perhaps not this year with such heavy male competition, not to mention the lackluster success of Angel Haze and Iggy Azalea in past years.

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17 Responses to "We Predict XXL’s 2014 Freshman Cover"
  • blackmanta777 says:

    Wow this whole website has turned to shit.
    might as well change the name to
    damn damn damn.

  • The Doorman says:

    Says at the top that these aint HHS picks but how they think XXL will vote

  • WuBrotha#1 says:

    I bet Isaiah Rashad and Jon Connor make it. And with the love peeps have for Chance, probably him as well. I’ll throw in Bishop Nehru as a prospect.

  • khordkutta says:

    reading IS fundamental

  • Dnpmonk25 says:

    If you haven’t seen the Nardwuar interview with Riff Raff TWO years ago you are doing yourself an injustice. The way he belittles him is perfect.

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