XXL Freshman season is in full swing. After announcing their 2014 picks, the solo freestyle sessions just wrapped up and the group cyphers are next up. What better time than now to look over the last 5 years of 50+ rappers and pick out the biggest flops.
So here's the ground rules: The 2009 – 2013 XXL Freshman Class selections are all up for grabs. 2008 wasn't an official Freshman Class and 2014 is way too recent to make any calls yet. The list is the Top 10 rappers who fell of the face of the earth, and as of today, don't come close to measuring up to their classmates.
11. OJ Da Juiceman
Classmates: J. Cole, Jay Rock, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Nipsey Hussle, Pill, Fashawn, Freddie Gibbs, and Donnis.
After releasing over a dozen mixtapes, Atlanta rapper OJ Da Juiceman released his debut album ‘The Otha Side of the Trap’ in 2009. The album charted on Billboard and produced the low-key hit “Make Tha Trap Say Aye” featuring Gucci Mane. However in some circles, the Juice Man is still most well known for having the worst XXL Freshman Freestyle of all time. It was terrible. However his music isn’t actually that bad. OJ was years ahead of his time. Releasing classic trap tapes just before the sub-genre took over the mainstream. Seriously, play 2010’s “Bread In The Kitchen” or “6 Rings” from the XXL Freshman mixtape right now. They could easily pass for hit songs today, in a similar vein as The Migos' hits. Let’s keep it 100 though, flop or not, OJ Da Juiceman was rich before rap and will be rich after rap. Aye!
Clasmates: J. Cole, Jay Rock, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Nipsey Hussle, Pill, Fashawn, Freddie Gibbs, and Oj Da Juiceman.
Donnis is a name that doesn’t necessarily ring a bell when mentioned in conversation. In 2009 the Atlanta, Georgia rapper released his first mixtape ‘Diary of an ATL Brave’ which led to a deal with Fool’s Gold/ Atlantic Records and a spot on XXL’s 2010 Freshman List. That June Donnis released free mixtape ‘Fashionably Late’, along with his subsequent major label debut ‘Fashionably Late EP’. He released two projects in 2011 and 2012 respectively, but hasn’t released any new music since. Donnis isn’t a “wack” rapper, his 2012 project ‘Southern Lights’ is actually pretty tight. But with that being said, his personality and music just don’t necessarily have any defining characters, leaving him easily forgettable.
Classmates: J. Cole, Jay Rock, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Nipsey Hussle, Fashawn, Freddie Gibbs, and Oj Da Juiceman.
As you can probably already tell, this Top 10 XXL Freshman Flops list has 11 rappers on it. Don't blame our sub-par math skills, blame Pill. After reading over the full 50+ Freshman roster, we compiled the Top 10 Flops. We missed Pill though, with his generic name being easily glanced over in the process. His Un-Googleble name isn't the only thing Pill has working against him. In 2012 he signed to Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group, alongside Meek Mill and Wale. He was instantly the odd man out in the crew and this video of him awkwardly standing in the background on Jimmy Kimmel while Meek Mill and Wale performed their songs says it all. Pill was soon dropped from MMG and hasn't really been heard from since.
8. Fred The Godson
Classmates: Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T., Mac Miller, Lil B, Yelawolf, Lil Twist, Meek Mill, Cyhi The Prynce, YG, and Diggy Simmons.
Fred The Godson seemed to be selected as a placeholder. The street-rapper from New York City that XXL used to round-out their list. Fred is actually a pretty good rapper by the classic definition of the word. His wordplay game is top notch, Fred has bars. But beyond that the NY rapper has little to no mainstream appeal or potential. We wanted to include a little more info for you, but he’s one of two rappers out of the 60+ named to the list over the years to not have a Wikipedia page. That pretty much says it all.
7. Cory Gunz
Classmates: B.o.B, Kid Cudi, Curren$y, Wale, Ace Hood, Asher Roth, Mickey Factz, Blu, and Charles Hamilton.
Son of rapper Peter Gunz, 26 year old rapper Cory Gunz has been in the music industry for over a decade. Officially singing his first record deal at only 14 years old, Cory released 5 mixtapes before landing on the 2009 XXL Freshman Cover. At the time the New York rapper was a puzzling pick for the cover and 5 years later he still is. The sole highlight of his career is appearing on Lil Wayne’s hit single "6 Foot 7 Foot" in 2011. After a failed MTV reality show and dodging jail-time for a gun charge, Cory Gunz’ career is going nowhere fast. He’s currently signed to: After Platinum Records, Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records, and Universal Republic Records. The music industry is all he knows. Regardless of talent, we're sure he'll still be floating around the industry for another decade.
6. Don Trip
Classmates: Danny Brown, Hopsin, Machine Gun Kelly, Macklemore, French Montana, Future, Kid Ink, Iggy Azalea, and Roscoe Dash.
Don Trip is easily the least recognizable name from our Top 10 Freshman Flop list. In 2011 Trip somehow caught the attention of Cool and Dre, then later Dr. Dre and Interscope Records. Right before XXL released their 2012 Freshman Class, the Memphis rapper used those connections to release his song “Letter To My Son.” The story-telling track cracked onto the radio and ended up being in heavy rotation in certain markets. Juxtaposed against 2012 picks like Future, Iggy Azalea, and Roscoe Dash, Don Trip was definitely XXL’s attempt to round out the list with a lyrical rapper. He’s a tight rapper, but hasn’t made much noise since that one single in 2012. The best part of this slide? You didn't even recognize that isn't Don Trip in the above photo. We told you, he really is the least recongnizable.
5. Lil Twist
Classmates: Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T., Mac Miller, Lil B, Yelawolf, Meek Mill, Cyhi The Prynce, YG, Diggy Simmons, and Fred the Godson.
Do we even really need to get into this one? Young Money signee Lil Twist was a stretch to be named a 2011 XXL Freshman at the time and is still a stretch years later. Thanks to Birdman and Lil Wayne, Twist was forced onto the masses as a cutesy little kid rapper. Now 21 years old, the kid-rapper gimmick is long over without one solid song, let alone project, under his belt. But don’t feel bad for him, these days Twist travels the world with Justin Bieber doing drugs, smashing groupies, and blowing money. Pretty tight life for a failed musician. Here’s a quote from his Wikipedia page: “Lil Twist… is best known for his association with Justin Bieber.” When Lil Wayne signs you and you’re still best known for hanging out with Bieber, that’s the definition of a flop.
4. Mickey Factz
Classmates: B.o.B, Kid Cudi, Curren$y, Wale, Ace Hood, Asher Roth, Cory Gunz, Blu, and Charles Hamilton.
From 2007-2009 The Cool Kids perfectly embodied the new wave of hip hop. Riding the wave close-by was New York’s Mickey Factz. The rapper released a string of mixtapes between 2006 and 2009, leading up to his semi-breakout hit "Rockin' N Rollin'", featuring none other than The Cool Kids. With the music video in heavy rotation on MTV, the New York emcee landed on the freshman cover. Unfortunately for Factz, that was the apex of his career. After singing a major label record deal with RCA, he was ultimately shelved, failing to gain even the slightest bit of traction with the handful of mixtapes he released after 2009. Upon further investigation Micky Factz actually retired from the music industry in late 2013, making him the only rapper on the list to officially call it quits.
3. Angel Haze
Classmates: Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Dizzy Wright, Trinidad James, Logic, Kirko Bangz, Travi$ Scott, and Chief Keef.
Your chances to succeed are limited just being a female rapper to begin with. Name 5 female rappers who had a song on the radio in the last 10 years. Nicki Minaj, Eve, uhh does Gwen Stefani count? With that being said, Detroit, Michigan rapper Angel Haze was already fighting an uphill battle. After being named a 2013 XXL Freshman, Haze began to prep her debut album to be released on Universal Republic and Island Records. On August 28th, she released her first single from that record. On December 18th, Haze leaked the whole album on Twitter following a dispute with the label. The leak wasn’t some PR stunt though crafted to fuel record sales. It was a real leak leading to one of the biggest flops of all time. Dirty Gold sold 857 copies in it’s first week on sale in the UK. By comparison, Kreayshawn went platinum. Angel Haze is now last remembered for e-beefing with Twitter-troll Azealia Banks. That’s never a good look. Her career is still very young though. So altough she's high on the list for the time being, Angel Haze is only one release away from not being on the list at all. All we can do is wait and see how this one turns out.
2. Diggy Simmons
Classmates: Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T., Mac Miller, Lil B, Yelawolf, Lil Twist, Meek Mill, Cyhi The Prynce, YG, and Fred The Godson.
Growing up on MTV, son of legendary, multi-millionaire, Run-DMC rapper Rev Run, Diggy Simmons has the world at his fingertips. While still in high school Diggy started to dabble in hip hop. One of his earliest releases to strike a chord was his freestyle over Nas’ classic song “Made You Look.” Let’s be real, the freestyle was tight. Justifiably so the track launched a bidding war amongst the major record labels. Diggy ultimately chose Atlantic Records, effectively sealing his fate when he signed his name on the dotted line. Atlantic, who has a track record for turning rappers into pop-stars, did just that with Diggy. He’s one of the few legitimate flops in true meaning of the term. With a full court major label press promoting his debut album Unexpected Arrival, the record literally flopped only selling 20,000 copies first week. Which in 2011 was even worse than it may be now. After taking a year or so off, Diggy just released a song featuring him singing. Yeah, this one isn't turning around anytime soon.
1. Charles Hamilton
Classmates: B.o.B, Kid Cudi, Curren$y, Wale, Ace Hood, Asher Roth, Mickey Factz, Cory Gunz, and Blu.
In 2008 Charles Hamilton was one of the most promising emerging rappers. The than 20 year old New York City emcee had a low-key hit in “Brooklyn Girls”, with the song cracking onto the charts and appearing on HBO series Entourage. After being named as an XXL Freshman in early 2009, and being signed to Interscope since 2007, Hamilton was preparing to release his debut studio album This Perfect Life that summer. The album was never released however, and Charles was dropped from Interscope all together in September of 2009. This would begin his downward spiral. Not only in his musical career, but general mental health. Between getting punched by a female rapper in the middle of a rap battle, and checking in and out of mental hospitals, Charles Hamilton’s career-that-almost-was is easily the most depressing story from this list.