Succeeding the XXL Freshman freestyles are the cyphers; MCs are put into groups to rap together. Trippie Redd may have opted to not participate in the cyphers, however with lyricists present such as J.I.D. and the energy of the likes of Lil Pump this year’s cyphers proved to be much more entertaining and lyrical than last year’s.
Here are the 2018 XXL Freshman cyphers ranked worst to best – both overall and as individual performances.
3. Lil Pump, BlocBoy JB, Smokepurpp
The trap trio aimed to recreate the entertainment factor of 2016’s cypher featuring the likes of Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage and Kodak Black – all of which were hyping up each other and having fun. Lil Pump, BlocBoy JB and Smokepurpp pull this off to an extent, ad-libbing each other throughout and carrying a carefree attitude. Props to the trio for this, however it is still the weakest lyrically.
2. YBN Nahmir, Stefflon Don, Wifisfuneral
With a more interesting beat to work with than Pump and co., YBN Nahmir, Stefflon Don and Wifisfuneral all perform well in their respective cypher. All three artists do their best to rap, however the hostility between the three pours into their performances, feeling disjointed and lacking entertainment.
1. J.I.D. and Ski Mask The Slump God
The two strongest MCs out the Freshman were smartly put together to do the work of three or four artists all by themselves. Both J.I.D. and Ski Mask The Slump God bring necessary contrast between each other, with J.I.D. stealing the show lyrically and Ski Mask going acapella to flex his choppy flow. Interaction is also there, ticking all boxes that a cypher should cover.
8. BlocBoy JB
As charismatic as BlocBoy JB might be, his performance in the cyphers was the worst. Using the same flow as his freestyle, BlocBoy brings his typical similes about cheese, pulling levers, and his tool. The interest runs thin practically straight away.
Purp doesn’t do anything blatantly wrong, delivering acceptable metaphors for his genre’s standards through a steady flow. It is an average freestyle that is easily forgettable.
For a Freshman that had one of the better solo freestyles, Wifisfuneral’s performance is lifeless. His flow nor content is interesting, leaving one to scratch their head as he ends his group’s cypher with much to be desired.
5. Lil Pump
Lil Pump ran the show in his freestyle, commanding his group’s performance by practically turning the cypher into a song with his repeated “Bust down sittin’ on left wrist, bust down sittin’ on right wrist” after each verse. His flow is impressive, introducing his verse in double-time and ensures he inserts references about his diamonds, hoes and “ooh’s”. A step up from his solo freestyle.
4. YBN Nahmir
YBN Nahmir’s guntalk is enough to strengthen his performance. He switches his flow a couple times and appears to be freestyling naturally.
3. Ski Mask The Slump God
The only Freshman to go acapella, Ski Mask allows himself full control of his choppy flow, skittering across the deafening silence to showcase some of the best technical rapping the cyphers had to offer. Technically, his performance is superb, however his lack of lyrical bars is easily masked behind the flow.
2. Stefflon Don
As the British (and female) anomaly of the Freshman, Stefflon Don’s freestyle may easily be overlooked by American viewers, but she easily had one of the best performances of the cyphers. Her introductory speedy flow is a surprise and the most rhythmic the cyphers have to offer while coming across as more cutthroat than YBN Nahmir and technical than Ski Mask. It will be a wake-up call for those that sleep on UK rappers.
Just like with his freestyle, J.I.D. ensures he secures top spot again, and may be one of the best cypher performances in XXL Freshman history. The same bases are covered – flow, lyricism and charisma – adding to those factors through his chemistry with Ski Mask in the most confident manner possible.