Living In A Land Of Lists: From XXL Freshmen List to JXN Top Ten Rappers

Living In A Land Of Lists: From XXL Freshmen List to JXN Top Ten Rappers

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Last week, XXL released their annual Freshmen List and received their annual backlash. The list has a pretty solid selection of artists that have been...

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Last week, XXL released their annual Freshmen List and received their annual backlash. The list has a pretty solid selection of artists that have been working to build their brands up. Some people I was happy to see make the cut were Kyle, Kap G, Amine, Kamaiyah, PNB Rock and Madeintyo (even though I hate his song “Skateboard P”). However, despite the fact I don’t listen to or enjoy the music of everyone on the list; I still don’t think it is trash. Most of the artists have the views, plays, fan base, content, and media attention to justify themselves being on the cover.

Most of the artists have the views, plays, fan base, content, and media attention to justify themselves being on the cover. A lot of people have instantly written the list off because they are unaware of who the artists on the cover are; even though the whole point is to provide publicity to buzzing artists in the industry. Everybody on the list either has a solid buzz going on around them in music circles or has been around for a few years and getting their well-deserved shine. The only person I take offense to being on the cover is XXXtenacion because his rise has been

The only person I take offense to being on the cover is XXXtenacion because his rise to stardom is problematic. He gained a significant fanbase while he was in jail serving time for assaulting his pregnant girlfriend, holding her hostage and other forms of abuse. None of this stopped his single “Look At Me” from gaining an insane amount momentum from word of mouth thanks to his devoted fan base. There were even rumors of Drake wanting to hop on a remix of the track and footage of him that sounded like he was performing a reworking of the song at a concert. In my opinion, he’s a scumbag and doesn’t deserve publicity to further his career but I digress.

The Freshmen List is by no means a list of the best new artists working in Hip Hop, it is more of a speculative collection of which artists will blow up and be hitmakers over the next year. In that regard, XXL hasn’t really been wrong with their predictions and most of their alumni have gone on to find success to some degree in the music world. As with anything else in life, the list is subjective and is by no means definitive.

Also, rather than using this as an opportunity to talk about how trash Hip Hop is now, we introduce people to the artists that are getting heavy rotation in our playlists.

 

The release of the list also spurred the citizens in my hometown of Jackson, MS to put together their own top 10 lists of artists from their city. The amount of controversy that came about was baffling, everyone felt jilted. I thought it was a good opportunity for artists to gain some free exposure but most so it as a chance to compete. At the end of the day it makes no sense for there to be so much division in a music market as small as Jackson. Artists should be working together to help elevate the state as an entity.

Some artists and brands did use it as an opportunity to get things going like cyphers, mixtapes, showcases and much more. So there was a bit of good coming out of the controversy at the end of the day.

My advice to the artists looking to gain recognition:

  1. Work Harder – Simply dropping your music on SoundCloud is not going to make people listen. Promote yourself, get involved in the music scene and make connections. Always being in the studio making music is not the key to success. Getting that music to the right ears is one of the most important things you can do.
  2. Think Bigger – Your friends, significant other or neighborhood rocking with your music alone does not make you a successful artist. Being popular in your hometown shouldn’t be your main/only goal with your music. If it is, you may be in the wrong field.
  3. Invest In Yourself – Maximize on every opportunity that comes your way. Sell merchandise, sell CDs and USBs with your music. Do media runs. You don’t have to spend a fortune to be heard and make some money back but you should be willing to invest something into your craft to move to the next level.
  4. Be Able To Take Criticism – Something that I’ve noticed a lot lately is that artists do not want to listen to anyone that isn’t praising them. How can you say you truly want to be an artist if you can’t even handle basic criticism without going into a tantrum and discrediting the critic? People write entire think pieces about artists these days just because, so if you’re not ready for that level of scrutiny; again you may be in the wrong field.
  5. Don’t Fear Collaboration – There are so many artists that want to be “the one” these days and that has many people running away from the idea of collaboration. Collaboration is largely positive and will help introduce you to a whole new audience if its done correctly. Collaboration can also help legitimize an artist that has skill but is lacking renown. Pairing with the right person can take both of your careers to completely new heights.

I know some people will say, “who the hell is he to give me advice on what I’m doing?” and that is fair. I’m just a writer with a little bit of involvement in a local music scene, I’m not Diddy or Hov by any means. However, I have seen the steps that artists who are truly making moves have been following to find success. This is just some free game that I’ve picked up and think might help some people progress.

Also, please send us your music or hit us up and let us know how can we help you promote yourself to a larger audience. We’re here to help, this a totally underutilized platform. Even though, a large majority of artists that have been featured on this site, our podcasts, or our mixtapes are out moving and leveling up. Just food for thought.

 

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