With the release of XXL’s 2018 freshmen class, I could take the easy route and just rip on how bad this class is with the exception of J.I.D. Instead of taking the low hanging fruit, I decided to put together my own 2018 freshmen class. I kept the criteria relatively loose on this, but I went with the 10 rappers who I feel are most likely to break out in 2018.
This is the only one I had in common with XXL because J.I.D. deserves every bit of publicity he gets. This dude comes from Atlanta but is far from the standard Atlanta sound that’s been dominating the scene. With an indistinguishable tone and uncanny ability to squeeze syllables together, J.I.D. is my top pick to break out this year. Check out his XXL freestyle below as well as his 2017 debut album, The Never Story.
27 year-old rapper out of South Carolina, Grant has already been endorsed by rappers like Killer Mike and Big K.R.I.T. He boasts some great socially conscious lyrics rapped over head-nodding jazz and R&B samples. This guy’s wordplay and ability to float over a beat will bring you right back to the great albums of the 90s.
Fresh out of Chicago, this kid is only 18 years old but has a strong influence from classic 90s Hip-Hop. He’s already worked with heavy hitters like Chance The Rapper, Ab-Soul, and Isaiah Rashad.
Perhaps the most polarizing rapper on this list, Hobo Johnson started garnering attention on the internet in early 2018 with his unorthodox delivery and ironic hipster vibe. Despite his dissension from traditional hip-hop, his lyrics feel genuine and I can see a future where outcast high school/college kids identify with him.
Coming out Brooklyn, SAINt JHN brings a mellow R&B/hip hop fusion to the freshmen class. He burst on the scene with his debut album Collection One, and it wouldn’t surprise me to him on a TON of features this year a la Khalid.
Bishop Nehru is one of those guys who has been around for a couple years already but hasn’t quite gotten the notoriety he deserves. I heard “Stressin” in 2015 and thought it was only a matter of time before his popularity exploded. This kid also produces some incredible jazz-influenced beats that are only going to get better as he grows as an artist. He’s only 21 years old right now, so he’s got plenty of time.
This kid has been endorsed by people like Pharrell and Kendrick Lamar, and I’m super high on him. Has yet to release a debut full length album, but when it does he’ll get crazy popular.
Belly was born in Palestine and moved to Canada. I thought Mumble Rap was one of the more under-appreciated releases of 2017. He’s already had collaborations with French Montana and The Weeknd, so I see him definitely continuing to pick up steam in 2018.
If you’re like me and can’t stand the new wave of “Lil” rappers, I encourage you to give a pass to lil skies. His lyrical content isn’t deep, but he’s able to make actual decent, catchy hip hop songs and sometimes that’s all you need.
Joyner has been gaining popularity through all of 2017 up until now with the use of his powerful lyrics and provocative videos. In the current age of trap beats and weak lyrics, Lucas has gone against the trends and continues to cover powerful topics with his songs.