Wednesday, February 26, 2014

2014 Slim Pickens/XXL Freshmen Predictions

It's that time of the year again. I'm guilty of it, you're guilty of it, hip-hop fans everywhere are guilty of it. The XXL Freshmen issue is coming soon and we will all be up in arms at the choices and we act as if XXL is the holy grail when it comes to this stuff. We all know making the cover of XXL is like winning an ESPY. It really doesn't mean anything other than giving an artist publicity and there is no such thing as bad publicity. Since I will be going over the XXL cover when it comes out, let's get it on with the 2014 Slim Pickens, formerly known as the Slim Samurai Freshmen. Check out my picks from 2013 here. Let's just say it wasn't a good year for me in terms of selections. I really picked J. Pinder. I don't even remember why I picked that guy. Anyways, the way Slim Pickens works is that these are 10 rappers who I was really digging this past year (some have been buzzing for several years) who have yet to release a studio album. These guys/girls have yet to blow up and may not blow up this year, but I feel like they should get their proper if anyone reads this blog. But if you like this blog and like the artists I will be talking about, then tell people and spread the word. I now present...the 2014 Slim Pickens

Honorable Mentions: 
Amber London- check her out here

Kevin Gates- I love his Luca Brasi mixatape but out of respect for how long he has been in the game, i couldn't say that he was a freshman. check Paper Chasers

Boldy James- He would have been on here if My First Chemistry Set wasn't an album. If I could do it over, that would have been in my top 10 albums of the year. check Moochie

Rich Homie Quan- had a big year with Type Of Way and released I Promise I Will Never Stop Going In. Probably going to be on the XXL cover.

Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire
Here we have a 2013 Slim Pickens repeat. I will continue to put eXquire on this list until he gets his proper recognition. If you read my albums of the year list, you would have noticed that Kismet was my favorite project of the year. I held eXquire in high regards before that but when that dropped and  gave it a thorough listen, he became one of those rappers that I will follow their every move. There aren't many rappers where I will look for every track they are on and listen to but he is in that VIP club. Please download Kismet if you have not. Here is a link. And eXquire almost didn't make Slim Pickens because according to his twitter rant, Kismet was supposed to be the album that he dropped for Universal but they rejected it so eXquire decided to release it for free. I don't understand why a record label like Universal would sign eXquire then expect him to be something that he's not. That is what baffles me about record companies. What is the point of signing someone and then changing them which disregards why they were signed in the first place? I still got you Mr Muthafuckin. Keep doing you.

Chance The Rapper
Nothing really needs to be said about Chance The Rapper if you followed rap in 2013. Chancellor broke out with one of the more divisive projects of the year in Acid Rap, but whether or not you liked it, he got people talking. Personally I really enjoyed it and it was on my top 10 end of the year list. I think Chance is a breath of fresh air who has already made his presence felt in the hip-hop world. If you haven't heard of him, just go download Acid Rap and make your own opinion. Just get over his voice, it isn't going away.

Vince Staples
I've already talked about Vince Staples on this blog before. I crowned him the breakout star of Earl Sweatshirt's Doris and included his collaboration mixtape, Stolen Youth, with Mac Miller in my top ten albums of the year list. Obviously I feel that the kid from Long Beach has had a very good year. His verse on Hive was one of my favorite verses, if not my favorite, of the year. There is a lot of potential in Vince as the next west coast street rapper. To me, Vince Staples is like the 2014 remix of Spice 1. If there was twitter back in the early 90's I can see Spice saying some of the same stuff that Vince spouts off and I'm not even talking about their music yet. There is a believability in Vince's voice when he speaks. If he says he just robbed someone, he sounds pretty darn convincing. He is supposed to have another project coming out this year so we'll anticipate that. In the meantime you can catch him on tour with Schoolboy Q and Isaiah Rashad. Speaking of Isaiah Rashad...

Isaiah Rashad
This is one guy I fully expect to land on the XXL cover. He dropped an anticipated project in Cilvia Demo and he delivered on it for the most part. I couldn't say there were crazy expectations for it but at least the bar was set as to what kind of rapper the Chattanooga bred MC is. Btw, another reason I feel like he is going to be on the XXL cover other than being dope is that look at the trends of the Freshmen cover. Jay Rock was on it in 2010 (still the best class in my opinion), Kendrick was on it in 2011 (the second best class, TYBG), and Schoolboy Q and Ab Soul were on it last year. You see the pattern. XXL obviously likes having TDE on there and TDE feels comfortable putting their artists on there. It's a relationship. Anyways back to Isaiah Rashad. For some weird reason, when Cilvia Demo first came out, so many experts (aka people who post on forums) were complaining that the project was a dud and how Rashad was such a boring MC. However, once all the professional reviews started to pour in, all of a sudden the opinions changed to how Isaiah is the second best rapper in TDE behind Kendrick. Yeah, most of these opinions by internet people don't mean anything if you haven't already noticed because they will change it once they see an opinion go in the opposite direction. 2014 already started off strong for Isaiah Rashad and we'll see if he can keep that momentum rolling the rest of the year and build on it.

Fat Trel
Washington DC bred Fat Trel had a very fine 2013 for himself after releasing probably my favorite ignorant mixtape of the year in SDMG. If you don't know what that stands for, it is Sex, Drugs, Money, Guns. And I applaud Fat Trel because on that mixtape he followed that concept of SDMG very thoroughly. There wasn't any Aesop Rock lyrical dissection needed. If he said "I fucked your bitch," he meant "I fucked your bitch." That success brought him a deal with Rick Ross and MMG so i'm very interested to see if he can make an impact on the radio. Pretty much all of MMG, with the exception of Stalley and Gunplay (who ironically are considered the two best in the camp), have had their voices heard for mainstream America to hear so we'll see where Fat Trel fits into that dynamic. I'm a tad skeptical because my favorite tracks off of SDMG were No Lamez, Thots, and Bitches. Listen to those tracks and let me know if you could hear them played on your local radio station. Even the songs I like that are not on the tape don't have radio play success ingredients in them like Russian Roulette feat America's sweetheart Chief Keef and Fuk Yo Life. His Started From The Bottom jack did the beat justice though and She Fell In Love is a hilarious attempt at a love song I think. Speaking of She Fell In Love, the reason I stopped following Fat Trel on Instagram is because every ten minutes he would post a pic of him kissing a strippers bootyhole with #Shefellinlove and I don't need to be seeing that everytime I want to look at my feed. In addition to that Fat Trel is a part of the crew Slutty Boyz. Yeah, not exactly the recipe for radio but maybe Officer Ricky has something up his sleeve planned for him. Bottom line is that if you need trunk knockers, ignorance played at ignorant levels, and the police to come looking for you, then play some Fat Trel with the windows rolled down.

This trio comprised of Chris P and Ugly Frank and a producer whose name I don't know is new and was brought to attention by my homie a few weeks back but I like what they are doing. The first track I saw of them was Potty and I love the freshness of the sound they are bringing. The subject matter is nothing to bow down to but it's how they are presenting it that makes them stick out. I can't think of anyone at the moment who spits over the same beats that these two do. This is some super underground shit though that everyone is not going to like. They don't spit anything with some weight behind it though. ILLFIGHTYOU are just some young dudes talking about how dope they are so if you need to have lyrics in your life, then these aren't the guys for you. Case in point, "I'm on a mission for pussy, money, and liquor." However, if you need something to break the rhythm of lyrical overload on all those boom bap beats then these are the guys for you. Even though they are from Tacoma, Washington don't expect Macklemore to be collaborating with them anytime soon.

Azizi Gibson
Azizi is another guy that I have already mentioned on this blog before. His mixtape, Ghost In The Shell, made my top ten album of the year list. So go download that tape if you have not already. For those that don't know, Azizi Gibson is an MC signed to Brainfeeder, which is the label owned by Flying Lotus. Artists there have 100% creative control over their project so Ghost In The Shell was a complete reflection of who Azizi Gibson was as an artist. There wasn't any compromises made as to how he should have crafted that project. The only thing I'm disappointed about is that I haven't heard any music from him outside of that mixtape. On one hand I like the mysteriousness, but I want to hear some new music from him goddammit. Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough. The title track off of that mixtape was one of my favorite songs of the year btw. I'll keep that on repeat until I hear some new material.

The Underachievers
The Underachievers are a duo comprised of AK and Issa out of Flatbush, Brooklynand have also been featured by this blog on multiple occasions. I named their debut mixtape, Indigosm, as my second favorite project of 2013 at my end of the year list, and compared their rap success to the success that Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio have enjoyed. Trust me, it seemed like a good idea at the time. They dropped a second mixtape in 2013 called Lords of Flatbush which was not as good as the first mixtape but it wasn't really comparable because they were two different projects. Lords of Flatbush was more of a side project and it was just a bunch of bangers produced by Lex Luger that I didn't like at first but it eventually grew on me. Like Azizi Gibson, The Underachievers are signed to Brainfeeder so they got creative control over their projects and it shows. Along with that Brainfeeder association, they are aligned with Pro Era (Joey Badass and friends) and the Flatbush Zombies which together they form Beast Coast. UA were also featured on the new Talib Kweli album which I cannot find online for the life of me but that shows they got one of the greatest of all time in Talib in their corner. They are supposed to be dropping their studio debut this year so I'll be anticipating that and we'll see what this year has in store for the duo.

Denzel Curry
Denzel Curry is a rapper out of Florida who I jumped on the hype train pretty late. He is a part of Raider Klan which is led by Space Ghost Purp and are still salty about ASAP Mob getting shine. Curry released Nostalgic 64 in 2013 and that album caught me by surprise. When I hear Raider Klan, I did not expect Curry's album to sound anything like it did lyrically. The hooks and the production I saw coming and nothing he said through the first listen really impressed me. Once I went back to it, I realized that he had some skill and wasn't just spitting mindless/boring stuff that Space Ghost Purp is prone to do (honestly he just needs to stick to producing). He's got great flow, something to say, and an understanding of what is happening around him which is what is needed to become successful in music. Be warned though, if you're a generally happy go lucky person you might not want to venture into Denzel Curry. His material is pretty dark. But if you're a depressed person you might not want to listen to this because you just might go out and kill and rob people. So the only people that can listen to Denzel Curry are level headed people.

Finally the last spot on the coveted Slim Pickens list goes to none other than the His Coldness out of Berkeley, 100s. The project that kind of put him on the map was 2012's Ice Cold Perm. It was an underrated one yet one that if you heard it, you loved it. I don't know when it happened but he is now signed to Fools Gold, the record company founded by A-Track and home to artists such as Danny Brown, Trackademicks, and Run The Jewels (El-P and Killer Mike). 100s gained more notoriety in 2013 with appearances on the GTA V soundtrack. Players of the game might remember Life Of A Mack as one of the standout tracks of the entire game. To put it bluntly, 100s is not one of those artists you really want to listen to with your parents. It will be bound to get awkward real quick and your relationship with them may never be the same. In of the very rare interviews he gave, 100s mentioned that his next project will be on some r&b stuff and Ten Freaky Hoes could very well be a preview of what is to come from the mysterious one. When he said he was changing his sound up, I got a little scared but I'm glad to see him keeping that pimp persona that he plays so well. He really is the modern day Too Short remix. 1999 will forever be my anthem.

Now onto my predictions as to who will make the XXL Freshmen cover:

Chance The Rapper
Rich Homie Quan
Vince Staples
Jarren Benton
Fat Trel
Ty Dolla Sign
Isaiah Rashad
Troy Ave
Jon Connor (that Dr Dre cosign tho)
Young Thug

AK feat Juice- I'm High

Freddie Gibbs- Eastside Moonwalker

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