Last year’s XXL Freshman freestyles did not impress, however in the new age of melodic rapping that is not expected of by the Freshman anymore. 2018’s Freshman list – consisting of Trippie Redd, Ski Mask The Slump God, BlocBoy JB, Lil Pump, J.I.D., Stefflon Don, Smokepurpp, YBN Nahmir and Wifisfuneral – follows the same pattern and expectations.
The individual freestyles are ranked based on lyricism, flow and delivery, with the latter two being key factors in substitute for lack of lyricism.
9. Lil Pump
Harvard’s most famous dropout unquestionably delivered the worst freestyle out the Freshman, recycling the second verse from his single “Esskeetit”. On a beat it may sound passable, though as an acapella performance Pump has nothing to showcase; not even the slight amount of humour he often possesses.
8. BlocBoy JB
BlocBoy JB sets the expectations from the start, rhyming “XXL” with “XXL”. Featuring similes obtained from the Similes for Beginners handbook, BlocBoy ensures his basic lyricism doesn’t secure him last place, delivering a few steady flows to maintain the listener’s interest for at least 60 seconds.
Smokepurpp’s freestyle is in identical vein to his peer Lil Pump’s, but that is masked to the best of his ability without a beat due to his speedy delivery.
6. Stefflon Don
Stefflon Don is far from the best of lyricists the UK has to offer. Despite this, her freestyle stands out from the crowd thanks to her British accent. American ignorance to her use of Jamaican slang is what may make some dislike her freestyle, but the “ah” adlib used at the start and the line “That sauce fake, that’s bellyache” is what really lets the freestyle down.
5. YBN Nahmir
YBN Nahmir begins his freestyle with the most boring delivery out the Freshman, eventually picking up the pace and bringing some substance to the freestyle for the first time out the freestyles ranked so far.
4. Trippie Redd
Reusing verses from previously-released songs or unreleased songs has been a common theme from the freestyles so far, and Trippie Redd’s is no exception. The flow at the start of the freestyle drags on for far too long, becoming irritating very quickly. However, Trippie Redd made an effort to showcase some lyrical ability rather than taking the easy route like most of his peers (“Bodies in piles, blood rivers resemble Niles / They need survival, they need to rehearse a recital.”)
3. Ski Mask The Slump God
Ski Mask’s freestyle, although not fantastic, achieves what Ski is all about; erratic flows and humorous lines (“My bitch like Sandy, ’cause of the Cheeks.” / “I just send ’em “XD Rawr” when I be textin’ your whore.”) He is not the lyrical warrior that fans claim he is, it is the flows that set him out from the rest of the Freshman freestyles.
Albeit a verse from a released song, Wifisfuneral attempts to pick out his best flows from his bag to deliver a freestyle that maintains interest from start to finish. There is no lyrical wonders here, just like with the previous seven, but Wifisfuneral managed to exceed expectations considering he is the underdog of the Freshman.
J.I.D. ensured he secured first spot by being the only rapper to exhibit elite MC’ing skills. For a full two minutes, J.I.D. switches flow multiple times, provides a variety of subject matter, includes extended metaphors and refuses to take his foot off the gas. There is no competition to challenge his performance at all – J.I.D. is the one to watch in the coming year. The Anderson Paak–esque voice may take time for new listeners to get used to, but J.I.D.’s freestyle proves he is the best lyricist out the 2018 XXL Freshman.
More than a motivator, immortal and innovative
Endorsin’ with pectoral fins
Swimming through the waves and of course a habeas corpus
I’m orbitin’ through my days, I’m fortunate
Aside the best-ranked freestyle, there was little of lyrical artillery brought out by the 2018 Freshman. With this said, the freestyles may be an improvement on the 2017 Freshman’s. Now it is up to the cyphers for the Freshman to prove anything else they haven’t already.