It’s that time of year again. XXL just announced the 12 members of their annual freshmen class, and as always A3C alumni are well represented. This year is exceptional however, with Jarren Benton, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Durk, Lil Bibby, Vic Mensa, Troy Ave, August Alsina, Jon Connor, Kevin Gates, and Rich Homie Quan (10 of the 12) all having performed on the A3C stage. Chance the Rapper and Isiah Rashad round out the list. Chicago dominates the list with four MCs whereas only one freshman, Troy Ave., hails from New York.
As always, there’s got to be some kind of controversy – we all know that’s half the fun. This year, fans can’t help but noticing a few glaring omissions. Chief among those seems to be Rapsody. On April 30th XXL named the 26 year old North Carolinian on their “20 Greatest Female Rappers of All Time” list. That’s next to names like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, M.I.A., and Lauryn Hill, some of the best MCs, whatever their gender, to ever touch a mic. To then leave Rap off your entirely male freshmen rap list — bizarre.
A somewhat less understandable complaint is the inclusion of Ty Dolla $ign and August Alsina as the first R&B singers to ever make the list. Purists aggressively tweeted their feelings, knocking the young crooners. But it seems futile to argue against the pretty clear cut case for the importance of R&B in hip-hop. We can start with all those important early break beats that built the foundation of the music. Then we can talk about hybrid performers like the aforementioned Lauryn Hill, Nate Dawg, Z-Ro and the late Big Moe.
Whatever the issue, XXL’s Freshmen Class undeniably kicks hip-hop’s hornet nest every summer. Whether you call it political, corporate or correct, the list most assuredly puts artists left out back in the booth. All LA rapper Casey Veggies had to tweet: “Back to work.”
Back to work
— Casey Veggies (@CaseyVeggies) May 5, 2014
A3C will be keeping up with our freshmen alumni, so check back soon for interviews and more.