Post #120, August 12, 2020: The XXL Freshman Class 2020 Review Post


This is not going to be what I normally do which is album reviews. I saw the chance to make a review on something music related that still can make some sort of an impact on this blog which is the XXL Freshman Cover of 2020. Now XXL can be either hit or miss with their lists, it depends on who is out and big that year, for example in 2016, this was one of the best years they have ever had because it had artists on the cover such as Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Denzel Curry, Lil Yachty, etc. all mainstream figures in the current state of rap. This cover is decent, I noticed that this is the only cover where not everyone is together, it’s photoshopped so everyone looks together, good for XXL to be practicing social distancing. I plan on going through every single artist in order and giving my opinion on what I think about their spot on the list and at the end I will give my thoughts on who I think should have been on the list in replace of the people who I don’t think should’ve been on the list. I’ve only ever talked about the XXL Freshman Covers with my friends in conversation so I’m definitely excited to talk about it here.

XXL Freshman Cover 2020

“Rod Wave”– This pick makes a lot of sense to me because all year long all I’ve been hearing is Rod Wave, on Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc. all I see and hear is Rod Wave and it’s on a daily basis at this point. Back in April I did a review on his project Pray 4 Love where I ended up giving it a 6/10 rating, people seem shocked when I tell them I don’t like Rod Wave but the reason is because his music sounds very alike, I do enjoy his messages and what he has to say because a lot of what he raps is relatable to a lot of people. I totally get this pick and I saw it coming, you can’t have hits like “Rags2Riches” and “Heart On Ice” and not make the Freshman List.

“Mulatto”– When I saw the cover early yesterday I said “Who’s Mulatto?” because I’ve never heard of her up until this past Friday, she was a feature off of NLE Choppa’s album that released this week. When I went to listen to some of her music for this review I listened to “B*tch From Da Souf” and I knew exactly who this was, I’ve heard this song all over Tik Tok. This pick makes sense to me because 1. She has over 20 million streams over her “B*tch From Da Souf” song and for the remix which is really impressive. 2. She has the attention from Gucci Mane from what I believe. 3. XXL has to put a female on the cover despite their popularity, sad but it’s true, XXL won’t have an all male cover so sometimes it’s like they just grab a female rapper and throw them on the cover but she’s the excuse because it seems to me that she has some major stats under her belt.

“Fivio Foreign”– I’m still not entirely sure who Fivio Foreign is but I’ve heard about him plenty of times this year. I recognize him from Pop Smokes music but I don’t know any of his own music. Through listening to his music I noticed that he uses a lot of the grime production style that has become a thing for New York recently, most recognized by Pop Smoke. I personally don’t see how he’s a good rapper or what it is that people like about him. I think this is a bad pick but that’s just my opinion, nothing pops out about him, pretty generic.

“24kGoldn”– All year long Ive heard a lot of noise from 24kGoldn through remixes or some sort of antic on social media. I’m a big fan of “CITY OF ANGELS”, “VALENTINO” & “DROPPED OUTTA COLLEGE”, I really enjoy his melodic sound and the raspiness of his voice. Now I wouldn’t say that 24kGoldn is a top pick for the cover but he definitely deserved it for all of the exposure he has had this year. Overall I think this is a decent pick.

“Polo G”– This is hands down the best pick off of the whole list. Polo G has had an amazing year so far, The Goat charting at number 2 on billboard, appearing on major albums such as PTSD and Legends Never Die and of course earning a spot on the XXL Freshman cover. I am a fan of Polo G’s music and as a matter of fact I did a review on The Goat where I ended up rating it a 9/10, this album is one of my favorite of 2020 for several reasons. I love how relatable Polo G is and how he tells his stories, he is definitely one of the most talented out of the rest of the list and honestly out of the list of rappers that have come out within the last year or two. Amazing and smart pick.

“Calboy”– I’ve seen this name one time before and it was off of Pop Smokes posthumous album that released about a month ago. The feature from Calboy wasn’t anything memorable and I actually went to listen to some of his music to see if I knew who he was based off a popular song and I do, the song “Envy Me” is extremely popular on Tik Tok and currently sits with over 300 million streams on Spotify. I listened to a few more of his tracks and I think he is alright, he’s more on the melodic and singer side of rap but that’s just fine with me. I think that this pick could have been used on someone better or more popular in my opinion.

“NLE Choppa”– I 100% agree with this pick right here. I’m fresh off the review for Top Shotta and in that review I said that NLE Choppa is one of my favorite newer rappers so I was definitely excited to see his name on this list. I think he is more than deserving of a spot on this list, I think it would be absolutely stupid to not have him on the list because he has had such an impactful year and goes hit for hit with almost every song he releases, he honestly might have the most hits out of anyone on this list. Amazing pick.

“Lil Keed”– Lil Keed is a terrible rapper and doesn’t deserve a spot on this list point blank period. His song “Snake” is his only good one and the whole Young Thug sound a like thing rappers like to do nowadays is getting old. There is already a Young Thug and a Gunna, no need for another one. This is a waste of a pick and whoever at XXL said “let’s put Lil Keed on the freshman cover” needs to be fired ASAP.

“Chika”– Ummmmmm? Who? I’ve never heard of Chika but I do remember reading something about a female rapper being introduced to Jay Z by Diddy and this must be her…impressive. When I went to go listen to her music I was shocked to see that she was a RAPPER, an actual artist that RAPS. She is an overly skilled rapper who knows how to change flows with ease and has lyrics as sharp as glass. On a skill aspect I totally see how she got a spot on this list, makes a lot of sense but as far as popularity goes I think this pick was wasted. XXL has a history of only picking people that will bring them attention so I appreciate that they actually went with skill for this pick. My final opinion on the pick is that it’s a good call, I’m for Chika on the cover in all honesty.

“Lil Tjay”– Tjay has had an amazing year as well as some of the other acts on the cover. Tjay sparked a lot of attention and some controversy with 6ix9ine when “GOOBA” released because Tjay likes to call himself the King of New York but we all know 6ix9ine doesn’t let anyone have that title besides himself. I’m personally not a big fan of Tjay but he definitely has my respect, he actually raps, he has major numbers on his spotify page and he has the attention from other and bigger artists. I totally agree with this pick and am in full support of it.

“Baby Keem”– Baby Keem is DEFINITELY one of the most odd and unique in style and sound off of this list. Baby Keem is the cousin of Kendrick Lamar and has done some things with Kendrick, nothing major but small things. Baby Keem has made some of my favorite songs of 2020 such as “ORANGE SODA”, “HONEST”, “MOSHPIT”, and “BUSS HER UP”, although these were all released in 2019 they didn’t get onto my radar up until early this year. Baby Keem’s music is big on Tik Tok which is where I noticed him with “ORANGE SODA” trending there. I definitely think this is a smart pick because he makes really good music and has such a unique persona to him and his music, can’t wait to see what he does next.

“Jack Harlow”– The last pick, Jack Harlow. If you were to say this name and associate it with anything I think the first thing that people would say is “WHATS POPPIN”. This track just took over, I am personally shocked by how big it got, I did a review on his Sweet Action project to which “WHATS POPPIN” was already released but was just gaining some sort of popularity. I would definitely call myself a fan of Jack Harlow and he’s definitely come a long way from when I first noticed him back in 2018 through small music reviews here and there. This is an amazing pick and I’m glad they used their last pick on Jack Harlow, by the way the remix to “WHATS POPPIN” is one of my favorite remixes of 2020.


Rod Wave



Polo G

NLE Choppa


Lil Tjay

Baby Keem

Jack Harlow


Fivio Foreign


Lil Keed


Don Toliver (conformed he turned down the cover)

Lil Tecca

Pop Smoke

Doja Cat (before her controversy)

Benny the Butcher

King Von


I am surprised that Lil Tecca didn’t get a spot, unsure if he turned one down but it truly doesn’t make sense to me how he didn’t make it on the list. I could easily see any one of these replacements on the list instead of the artists that I disagreed with but there is always next year. I really enjoyed talking about this cover because so many people have different opinions on the cover, I feel like 2016 and 2019 had the most agreed upon covers from the public but this one is just decent.

Thank you for being here for another post by myself, I’m glad I made this because I did not expect for the cover to come out yesterday but I’m glad I did because it gave me something to talk about. If you enjoyed this post let me know what you think, plenty of opinions were shared here today so I definitely want to hear yours. Don’t forget to like and follow the blog and head over to @tylersmusicthoughts on Instagram to follow that too. See you tomorrow for a Throwback Thursday Post.

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