We've been covering emerging rappers since January 2009, even before XXL Magazine released their first official "Freshmen Class" issue. With MTV & XXL already taking a stab at guessing which emerging rap talent will reign supreme in 2012, we're back at it to add some sanity into the mix with our second annual Freshman Class.
The Masked Gorilla's 2012 Freshman Class is compiled of the ten new school rappers (excluding the previous XXL 30 & The Masked Gorilla's 2011 Freshman Class) who have the highest potential to gain the most amount of mainstream success in 2012. Nothing else.
Tyler, The Creator closed out our 'TMG 10 in 2011' list last year, so it's only right that his "brother" wraps up the 2012 selections. Earl Sweatshirt is without a doubt the most buzzed about emerging rapper out. Hype sells and the recently turned 18 year old Los Angeles rapper has made a career out of it thus far. Being banished to Samoa for over a year, his return was heavily speculated upon leading to the "Free Earl" campaign. He's finally back, possibly not-affiliated with Odd Future anymore and more popular than ever. Oh yeah, he's still only released about half a song since his return. It will be interesting to see whether the hype will die out once he fully steps into the mainstream spotlight and the mystery is gone. Either way, he's currently working with huge names and is bound to have many successful projects to come in 2012 and beyond.
Former chef, yes he was seriously a gourmet chef just years ago, Action Bronson came out of left field as one of the most promising emerging rappers. Hailing from Flushing Queens, New York, Bronson has an old school flow, reminiscent of whoever he's being compared to this week, with lyrics that most of the time make a whole lot of no sense. With a handful of videos, mixtapes and albums already under his belt, he's well on his way to being in the ranks of those he's so frequently compared to.
Although the name may be new to most, Azalea Banks has been making a rumble the last few years in the UK under her former Miss Bank$ pseudonym. Thanks to the recent success of other female rappers, such as Nicki Minaj, Azealia now has a full lane paved for her back here in America. Already apart of the industry and friends of the elite, it's only a matter of time before Azealia Banks makes her mark on the mainstream airwaves.
Chip Tha Ripper
There was no rapper more visibly upset by being excluded from XXL's 2012 Freshman cover than Chip Tha Ripper. He claimed he turned the cover down, XXL called him a liar. Regardless of the politics, there's no denying that Chip Tha Ripper is one of the most well known and respected emerging rappers out today. After releasing mixtape after mixtape, Chip's debut album is set to have the help of Kanye West and undoubtedly a verse, hook, or both from his buddy Kid Cudi. Chip will most likely never altar his sound to gain mainstream appeal, regardless he'll continue to make noise in 2012.
Machine Gun Kelly
This past summer we met up with Machine Gun Kelly to film an "Enrollment" episode at his debut headlining New York City concert. The venue was at most, at half-capacity, with Juggalo's making up a good portion of that half, making it clear that his take on hip hop has him in a lane of his own. After signing to Bad Boy Records the transition has been smooth into the mainstream spotlight with his massive Waka Flocka featured hit "Wild Boy". Starting this month MGK will be on a massive 90 stop tour alongside Tech Nine, it will be interesting to see where another single and a debut album fit into the mix.
It may be hard to believe but with the exception of a re-release, Los Angeles' Casey Veggies hasn't released a new project since December 2010. He didn't put 2011 to waste however, Veggies' embarked on a three month tour with Mac Miller establishing him as more than just a "former member of Odd Future." With his new 'Customized Greatly Vol. 3' mixtape on the way, the recent high school graduate just sold out his first headlining concert in LA.
Last April I met up with Kendrick Lamar a few month's prior to the release of his now infamous 'Section.80' project. If you watch the interview closely enough you can see a disinterested ScHoolboy Q, sprawled out on a chair in the back of the shot. For a while it wasn't clear if Q would ever escape Lamar's shadow and step out of the background. With the release of his 'Habits & Contradictions' project in early January, Q finally cemented himself not only as a separate entity from the rest of TDE, but one of the most promising emerging rap talents of the year.
On July 6th we posted A$AP Rocky's "Purple Swag" music video, as a favor to a friend. After listening to the song from the than unheard of rapper for a few more days I grew fond of the sound. I took to my personal Twitter page to praise the song, while questioning if A$AP could produce another hit in the future. Just hours after the tweet was posted, ASAP tracked me down on Facebook and sent me this message: "they told me wat u said on twitter, and ill show u i have a lot in store, god bless…..A.S.A.P". Uh, yeah, I think it's safe to say he was right. 2010 was the year of Wiz Khalifa, in 2011 Tyler, The Creator reigned supreme, it's no questioning that 2012 is A$AP Rocky's year just as he claimed.
Did we miss your favorite rapper? Chances are we already included them last years classe. Check it out right here:
Masked Gorilla's 2011 Freshman Class