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The 52 Best Albums By XXL Freshmen

  • freshmen albums best albums xxl

    There’s one stipulation we abide by when choosing XXL Freshman. Before the date of the photoshoot, none of them can have a major label debut.

    Throughout the years, XXL has been on the forefront of co-signing rap superstars the moment before they popped. In 2012, Future was placed on the cover and a year later exploded with the success of his debut album, Pluto. Likewise, many fans were unfamiliar with Macklemore when he made the same cover, but quickly caught on when “Thrift Shop” from The Heist became an international phenomenon. This time around, Logic looks destined to have a strong year with his untitled Def Jam debut scheduled to release this year. Judging by what he has put out so far, we can’t wait for it to come out.

    In the seven years since the Freshman franchise has been around, more than half of the inductees have released a debut album. Even a small percentage of them have gone on to their sophomore efforts off the foundation their first LP created for new fans. Yesterday, we gave you an extensive list of The 73 Best Freshmen Mixtapes, and now we are back for The Best Albums By XXL Freshmen. From known classics like Kendrick Lamar’s XXL-rated good kid, m.A.A.d city to critically-acclaimed efforts like Danny Brown’s Old, there are plenty here to revisit again. Sit back, relax, and go in.—Complied By Eric Diep, Dan Rys, Chris Mench & Ke'Andrea Ayers

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  • lupe fiasco food and liquor
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  • wiz khalifa no deal

    Wiz Khalifa, Deal Or No Deal

    Label: Rostrum Records
    Release Date: November 24, 2009
    Notable Songs: “This Plane,” “Chewy”
    Why Its Dope: While far from Wiz Khalifa’s most commercially successful work, his sophomore effort on Rostrum Records remained his most artistically consistent album. Released just months before his career-changing Kush & OJ mixtape, Deal Or No Deal showcased Wiz at his best. Smooth tracks like “This Plane” and “Chewy” find the ganja-loving rapper delivering solid rhymes without the aesthetic-compromising pop tracks that became an issue on Rolling Papers.

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  • freddie gibbs esgn

    Freddie Gibbs, ESGN

    Label: ESGN/Empire Distribution
    Release Date: June 19, 2013
    Notable Songs: “Eastside Moonwalker,” “One Eighty Seven (featuring Problem)”
    Why Its Dope: After years of quality mixtapes, Freddie Gibbs had a lot to live up to on his debut. ESGN is, in many ways, a culmination of a career’s worth of hard work. Gibbs’ gruff-voiced flow and bleak subject matter are in abundance, with the Gary, Indiana native spinning tales of street life over trap and jazz-inspired beats. While not everything one might wish for from the highly talented rapper, ESGN was nonetheless a solid debut from a long overlooked rapper.

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  • fashawn boy meets world

    Fashawn, Boy Meets World

    Label: One Records
    Release Date: October 22, 2009
    Notable Songs: “Samsonite Man (featuring Blu),” “Hey Young World (featuring Aloe Blacc & Devoya)”
    Why Its Dope: On Fashawn’s independently released debut, he evoked many of the elements of old-school hip-hop. Boy Meets World, entirely produced by Exile, was a collection of smart raps and smooth flow. Pushing the genre forward, and yet honoring its roots, Fashawn crafted an intelligent but still fun debut album. Exile’s production works as an updated version of classic hip-hop beats, giving the project a new, yet timeless appeal.

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  • future honest

    Future, Honest

    Label: A1/Freebandz/Epic Records
    Release Date: April 22, 2014
    Notable Songs: "Honest," "Sh!t," "Move That Dope" (featuring Pharrell, Pusha T and Casino), "I Won" (featuring Kanye West), "Covered N Money"
    Why Its Dope: Future's second offering established him as a true star out of The Dungeon Family. Mixing in trap bangers, loverboy anthems, and more, the ATL rapper/crooner showed a lot of growth and progression since his strong debut, Pluto. Plus, anyone who can get Andre 3000 to rap again is always a win.

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  • kid ink my own lane
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  • Major-Without-A-Deal
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    Big Krit Cadillactica Album best albums xxl freshmen
  • Mr.Wonderful
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  • RememberMyName
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  • Under-Pressure
    Logic Under Pressure Album best albums xxl freshmen
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  • Dizzy-Wright-Album
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  • The-Ecology
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Previously: The 73 Best XXL Freshmen Mixtapes
iStandard Selects The XXL 2014 Freshmen Producers
XXL Freshmen Class: By The Numbers
Check Out New XXL Freshmen And Profiles From This Year’s Class

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