The 73 Best XXL Freshmen Mixtapes

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  • xxl-freshmen-1
    <p>There’s a great deal of preparation that goes into choosing <em>XXL</em> Freshman. Research. Attending shows. Debates over whom are the hottest. However, sometimes the deciding factor is over who has the streets talking with their mixtapes. </p><p>Tapes are the best way to gauge how your music is doing. It’s a melting pot of your talents to showcase your progress, as well as who you align yourself with in the rap industry. A lot of the times, tapes that have an MC rapping over other people’s instrumentals catapulted them into the conversation of who’s next. Few of our Freshman picks like Jon Connor and Fashawn have made undeniable classics in the underground by jumping on beats rapped on by Jay Z and Nas.</p><p>There are plenty of tapes to choose from when highlighting the best mixtapes by <em>XXL</em> Freshman. Some rappers have year’s worth of mixtape before their debut albums, while others have made a dent in the rap game by having one extremely well received release. The formula for what a mixtape is these days keeps changing rapidly. To be clear though, Isaiah Rashad doesn’t have tape out, so he is excluded from this list. We still fuck with <em>Cilvia Demo</em> heavy.</p><p>So, with that said, from Lil Boosie to J. Cole, these are The 73 Best XXL Freshmen Mixtapes.—<em>Complied By Eric Diep, Dan Rys, Marvin Jules And Jeffrey Whaley</em></p>
  • boosie-freshmen-mixtape-1
    <h2>Lil Boosie, <em>Superbad: The Return of Mr. Wipe Me Down</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>March 2009<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Levis," (featuring Webbie and Lil Phat), "Loose Off The Goose," "Take You Down." (featuring T-Pain)<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>This mixtape is a massive helping of 100 percent realness from one of the South's most revered artists.</p>
  • joell-ortiz-freshmen-2
    <h2>Joell Ortiz, <em>Covering The Classics</em></h2><p></p><b>Release Date: </b>May 2009<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "T.R.O.Y", "Rappers Delight", "4,3,2,1"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>Mr. Yaowa himself hopping on classic instrumentals from the Golden Era of hip-hop was a match made in musical heaven.
  • papoose-freshmen-3
    <h2>Papoose, <em>King of New York</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>October 2011<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Otis", King of NY", Party Bout 2 Pop"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>Papoose giving us his normal formula of street life rhymes and a mix of original and industry beats made for an overall solid offering.</p>
  • lupe-freshmen-4
    <h2>Lupe Fiasco, <em>Enemy of the State: A Love Story</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>November 2009<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Say Somethin", "Fireman", "Turnt Up"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>Hearing Lupe Fiasco, who usually shuns conventional mainstream production on his own albums, hopping on industry beats and absolutely wrecking the mic, was something that everyone can enjoy.</p>
  • crooked-i-freshmen-5
    <h2>Crooked I, <em>Psalm 82:06</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>June 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Nikki", "Monsterous", G.A.N.G"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>Raw and rugged rhymes was what we expect from Crooked I, and that was exactly what he delivered on this mixtape.</p>
  • rich-boy-freshmen-6
    <h2>Rich Boy, <em>Gold Kilos</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>June 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "She Bad", "Hard Work (Remix)", "Hater Curse"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>This mixtape showcased an improved Rich Boy from his "Throw Some D's" beginnings. Features from Dom Kennedy, YG, and Ty Dolla $ign added to the quality of this tape.</p>
  • plies-on-trial-7
    <h2>Plies, <em>On Trial</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>February 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Some Money", "Can't Let Em Bury Me", "Heart So Cold"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>Plies made up for what he lacked in pure lyricism with infectious energy, leaving his loyalfans happy at the end of the day.</p>
  • young-dro-freshmen-8
    <h2>Young Dro, <em>Equestrian Dro</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>February 2011<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Make A Movie (Remix)", "Lotta Money (Remix)", "Grand Hustle Kings"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>A jam packed mixtape in regards to features, Dro knows just what buttons to push to create a bumping mixtape from top to bottom.</p>
  • saigon-freshman-9
    <h2>Saigon, <em>Warning Shots</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>2004<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "NY Streetz", "Let A Nigga Know", "L.O.V.E"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>This was the tape that solidified Saigon as a NY mixtape legend, and introduced the rest of the world to his no-nonsense rhyme style.</p>
  • gorilla-zoe-freshmen-10
    <h2>Gorilla Zoe, <em>Gorilla Zoe World</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>March 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Then Niggas", "Dope Boys", "Obsession"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>Gorilla Zoe stuck to the script and delivered the listener a healthy dose of songs about the streets, partying and introspection. The perfect trifecta.</p>
  • wale-freshmen-11
    <h2>Wale, <em>More About Nothing</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>August 2010<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "The Guilty Please No Hands", "The Breakup Song", "The Friends Stranger"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>This mixtape was Wale at his best, a goodie bag of songs that references love, money, and the conquests of the rap game.</p>
  • currensy-freshmen-12
    <h2>Curren$y, <em>Drive In Theatre</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>February 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Godfather Four", "Hi-Top Whites", "10 Gs"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>Curren$y's signature slow flow, drawling raps about cars, money, and hoes, and bumping production made for a terrific recipe.</p>
  • charles-hamilton-freshmen-13
    <h2>Charles Hamilton, <em>Its Charles Hamilton </em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>October 2008<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “Lacey Duvalle”, “Emotional Distress”, “Mr Perfect”<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>Charles Hamilton’s quirky style matched with dope beats definitely worked on this tape.</p>
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    <h2>Kid Cudi, <em>A Kid Named Cudi</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>July 2008<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> ‘Day N Nite”, “Man On The Moon (The Anthem)”, “Is There Any Love”<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>This was the mixtape that introduced the entire world into the world of Cudi, and made him a household name.</p>
  • blu-freshmen-15
    <h2>Blu, <em>Below The Heavens </em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>July 2007<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “Show Me The Good Life”, “Cold Hearted”, “The Narrow Path”<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>This project sent shockwaves through the indie rap scene. It is still widely regarded as one of the best indie projects of the past 10 years.</p>
  • bob-freshmen-16
    <h2>B.o.B, <em>No Genre </em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> December 2010<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “Cold As Ice”, “Grand Hustle Kings”, “Higher”<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>B.o.B’s unique, slick rap/sing combination made for an enjoyable tape from top to bottom.</p>
  • asher-freshmen-17
    <h2>Asher Roth, <em>Pabst & Jazz </em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> December 2011<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “In The Kitchen”, “Choices”, “Pabst & Jazz”<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>The “I Love College” rapper showed us he could do more than rap about frat parties on this tape. The smooth soundscapes and smooth rhymes he showcased on this tape changed a lot of peoples’ minds about Asher Roth.</p>
  • ace-hood-freshmen-18
    <h2>Ace Hood, <em>Starvation 2 </em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> January 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “This n That”, “It’s Going Down”, “Got Damn”<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>19 tracks of hype music was just what we expect when we hit play on an Ace Hood mixtape, and that was exactly what we got. Features from French Montana, Meek Mill, and Plies made this tape a definite banger.</p>
  • mickey-factz-19
    <h2>Mikey Factz, <em>Mickey MauSe </em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> March 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “The Factory”, “Hulk Hogan & Crack”, “Crowded”<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>This tape took you on a unique ride that hip-hop and visual art enthusiasts appreciated.</p>
  • cory-gunz-freshmen-20
    <h2>Cory Gunz, <em>Son of A Gun </em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> July 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “Speed”, “Bedtime”, “Know My Name”<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>The Bronx-bred rapper released this mixtape shortly after getting his big break in the mainstream through his feature on Lil Wayne’s “6 Foot 7 Foot”, and for the most part, he didn’t disappoint. </p>
  • j-cole-freshmen-21
    <h2>J. Cole, <em>Friday Night Lights</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>November 2010<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "In The Morning" (featuring Drake), "Blow Up", "Looking For Trouble"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Though most people knew that J. Cole had the skills to go toe-to -toe with anyone on the mic, <em>Friday Night Lights</em> was the mixtape that made sure everybody knew that he was the real deal.</p>
  • wiz-freshmen-22
    <h2>Wiz Khalifa, <em>Kush & OJ</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>April 2010<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Glass House" (featuring Curren$y, Big K.R.I.T.), "The Statement", "Still Blazin"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Wiz Khalifa's laid back demeanor, paired with smooth instrumentals made for optimal wake and bake music, inevitably drawing comparisons to another marijuana enthusiast, Snoop Dogg, along the way.</p>
  • big-sean-freshmen-23
    <h2>Big Sean, <em>Detroit</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> September 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b>"Higher", "24 Karats Of Gold", "Mula"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>This mixtape caused Datpiff to crash on the day it released, showing how anticipated it was. Star-studded collaborations with artists like J Cole, French Montana, and Common made for a solid offering from the Detroit native.</p>
  • nipsey-freshmen-24
    <h2>Nipsey Hu$$le, <em>Crenshaw</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> October 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b>"Checc Me Out", "The Weather", "If U Were Mine"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Nipsey made headlines with this mixtape prior to its release, with various media outlets reporting that it would be selling for $100 apiece. However, what many people overlooked was that the $100 price tag was only for the special edition hard copy of the tape, and it would still be available for free online. <em>Crenshaw</em> was filled with the type of quality songs that fans of Nipsey have come to expect over the years.</p>
  • oj-freshmen-25
    <h2>OJ Da Juiceman, <em>Culinary Art School 2</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> March 2011<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b>"Bought A Chicken", "Gahlee", "Jack Boyz"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> This mixtape from OJ delivered what everyone knows OJ is good for: More trap tales from the Atlanta spitter. </p>
  • freddie-freshmen-26
    <h2>Freddie Gibbs, <em>Baby Face Killa</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> September 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b>"Tell A Friend", "Go For It", "Krazy"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Freddie Gibbs's songs about struggles and street life struck a chord with almost anyone who listened to this. Features from artists such as Curren$y and Young Jeezy only serve to improve the tape.</p>
  • kendrick-jay-rock-freshmen-27
    <h2>Kendrick & Jay Rock, <em>No Sleep Til NYC</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> September 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b>"Dead Presidents III", "New Pimpin", "Halfway Crooks"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Showcasing a young Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar going back and forth on classic beats such as "Shook Ones," "Big Pimpin", and more, this tape was a great listen for those wanting to hear what greatness in the making sounds like.</p>
  • donnis-freshmen-28
    <h2>Donnis, <em>Southern Lights</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> April 2011<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b>"Blackberry Molasses", "PSA, "Penthouse Suite"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Donnis's smooth flow paired with a wide array of topics ranging from partying to attempting to break into the mainstream, made for a solid all-around tape.</p>
  • pill-freshmen-29
    <h2>Pill, <em>The Epidemic</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> February 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b>"Why It Gotta Be Like Dis (Mama)", "It's So Hard", "Scarface"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>This was Pill's first project post-MMG, and his rhymes filled with emotion gave many fans of Pill what they wished they had the opportunity to do on MMG.</p>
  • fashawn-freshmen-30
    <h2>Fashawn, <em>Ode To Illmatic</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> June 2010<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b>"Life's A Bitch", "C.A State of Mind", "It Ain't Hard To Tell"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>California-bred Fashawn's <em>Ode To Illmatic</em> was a new age twist on a classic, all while paying homage to one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.</p>
  • kendrick-freshmen-31
    <h2>Kendrick Lamar, <em>(O)verly (D)edicated</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>September 2010<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "The Heart Pt. 2," "Ignorance Is Bliss," "Michael Jordan"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Since it’s debut release, Kendrick Lamar’s <em>(O)verly (D)edicated</em> has made its way up to a classic listen among TDE supporters. The Compton-native did a great job with this tape by delivering a variety of songs with high packed energy and witty word-play as displayed on "The Heart Pt. 2" and "Ignorance is Bliss." He also maintained a fun and laid-back attitude on songs "P&P 1.5," as well as "H.O.C."</p>
  • bit-krit-freshmen-32
    <h2>Big K.R.I.T., <em>Return Of 4Eva</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>March 2011<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "R4 Theme Song," "Country Sh*t (Remix) (featuring Ludacris, Bun B)", "Dreamin'"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> One of Big K.R.I.T’s best qualities as an artist is his ability to maneuver himself as a rapper and producer. Being able to channel many of his influences within his music from UGK, Outkast and more, K.R.I.T delivered this self-produced mixtape full of soulful vibes as he brings you into his world of Cadillac whipping, lean sipping, Pimp C blasting through speakers, and just living everyday life in his hometown of Mississippi. </p>
  • mac-miller-freshmen-33
    <h2>Mac Miller, <em>K.I.D.S</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>August 2010.<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Nikes On My Feet," "Senior Trip," "Good Evening"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Mac Miller's most memorable mixtape, <em>K.I.D.S</em>, was a fun project and was believed to be a fan favorite among many. With help on the production side from Big Jerm, The Watcherz and ID Labs, Mac Miller rapped about hanging out with friends, experiencing good vibes and enjoying life as a youth. Mac Miller rarely missed the mark when it comes to releasing mixtapes and this was one of those projects you can listen to from start to finish.</p>
  • yelawolf-freshmen-34
    <h2>Yelawolf, <em>Trunk Muzik</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>November 2010<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Pop The Trunk," "Good to Go," "Mixin’ Up the Medicine (Remix)" featuring Juelz Santana<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> <em>Trunk Muzik</em> was Yelawolf’s fourth mixtape and many would argue this project served as an introduction to whom the Alabama-based rapper is today. Judging from appearances, you would think this just another White rapper but looks can be deceiving. With this tape, Yelawolf proved he wasn't just another fast-paced MC, but more of an well-rounded artist with the ability to make catchy songs and tell vivid stories. </p>
  • yg-freshmen-35
    <h2>YG, <em>Just Re’d Up 2</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>January 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "I’m 4rm Bompton," "Good to Go," "Mixin’ Up the Medicine (Remix)" featuring Juelz Santana<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> YG was one of the many artists responsible for bringing back West Coast culture in hip hop. Some would say YG’s <em>Just Re’d Up 2 </em>served a prelude to the success we see from him today because of popular songs like "I’m 4rm Bompton" that helpd YG transition from underground to mainstream success. Also, production from DJ Mustard on this tape made the music that much enjoyable to listen to. </p>
  • cyhi-freshmen-36
    <h2>CyHi Da Prynce, <em>Royal Flush</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>October 2010<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Ring Bellz," "Hero," "Fast Lane"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>Cyhi Da Prynce has yet to release a debut album since signing to G.O.O.D Music but every now and then, he releases a brand new mixtape to cater to fans. If we were to go down the list of every mixtape released from Cyhi, nothing compares to his earlier work especially his tape <em>Royal Flush</em>. The Atlanta rapper didn't hold back when speaking about being one of the best. </p>
  • diggy-freshmen-37
    <h2>Diggy, <em>Airborne</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>September 2010<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Airborne," "Big Bad World," "Oh Yeah"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>Queens' own Diggy Simmons first stepped onto the scene back in 2009 with his first tape, <em>The Flight School. </em>Since then, a level of growth has been shown from the young freshmen with his third mixtape <em>Airborne</em>. On this tape, it was interesting enough to see him longside the greats like Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell Williams on "Oh Yeah" and Raekwon on "Super Hero Music." This project lived up to the hype as promised.</p>
  • fred-the-godson-freshmen-38
    <h2>Fred The Godson, <em>Contraband</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>March 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Call Me The God," "Poetic Justice," "ShotGun"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>At a time where New York hip-hop wasn't as prevalent as the golden age of hip-hop, you can always count on artists like Fred The Godson to deliver for an East Coast style of rapping and sound in his music Fred The Godson teamed up with popular producers, The Heatmakerz, to create an outstanding project describing New York street life from his perspective with gritty and clever lyricism. </p>
  • meek-mill-freshmen-39
    <h2>Meek Mill, <em>Dreamchasers 2</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>May 2012 <br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Amen (featuring Drake, Jeremih)," "Burn (featuring Big Sean)," "A1 Everything (featuring Kendrick Lamar)"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>It wasn’t hard to tell why <em>Dreamchasers 2</em> would be considered Meek Mill’s best mixtape until this date. Starting off the project with an intense intro featuring an excerpt from a Mike Tyson press conference speech, the Philly MC didn't turn down anytime soon as he kept the energy high. Another great element about this tape was the competitiveness between Meek, Drake, Kendrick and Big Sean as each MC tried to do one another on the tracks they were on together. </p>
  • lil-twist-freshmen-40
    <h2>Lil Twist, <em>The Golden Child</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>December 2011<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Light Up," "Godzilla Twist," "Getting Crazy"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>Young Money was a roster full of talented artists from Drake, Tyga to Nicki Minaj and when discussing Lil Twist, just know the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. His mixtape, <em>The Golden Child,</em> was packed with the perfect combination of lyrical content over party tracks. This mixtape proved Lil Twist was more than capable of standing alone as a solo artist even with help from his mentor Lil Wayne as well as his labelmates.</p>
  • lil-b-freshmen-41
    <h2>Lil B, <em>Red Flame: Devil Music Edition</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>February 2011<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Don’t Let Me Die," "Devil Music," "Prayer To Music"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Before pressing play on any Lil B material, it was highly unlikely to predict the direction he’ll go in with his music. The good thing about <em>Red Flame: Devil Music Edition</em> was you don’t have to be a Lil B fan to enjoy it. This was one of Lil B’s better mixtapes.</p>
  • danny-brown-freshmen-43
    <h2>Danny Brown, <em>Hot Soup</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>July 2008<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Ten G’s A Week," "Sittin’ So High," "Swagger To The Max"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Danny Brown has come along way since signing with Fool’s Gold Records and releasing his critically acclaim project <em>XXX</em> back in 2011. Most of Danny Brown’s songs today have a darker tone to it but if you weigh in on his mixtape <em>Hot Soup,</em> you’ll be surprised his sound was totally different. With this tape, Brown rapped over more soulful sounds and jazz sampled instrumentals which can be heard on songs like, "Ten G’s A Week" and "Swagger To the Max." If you want to hear a different side to Danny Brown’s music, definitely give this a listen.</p>
  • french-freshmen-44
    <h2>French Montana, <em>Mac & Cheese 3</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>November 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Ocho Cinco" (featuring Los, MGK, Diddy, Red Café), "Water," "Sanctuary"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> French Montana has been on the underground circuit for some time now, but <em>Mac & Cheese 3</em> was the tape that garnered the most attention. This tape came shortly after French signing his deal with Bad Boy/MMG and elevated his career from underground to mainstream success. The tape featured hit radio records like "Ocho Cinco" and "Water" which helped boost the status of the BX native.</p>
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    <h2>Future, <em>Streetz Calling</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>September 2011<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Same Damn Time," "Never Be The Same," "Unconditional Love"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Since coming onto the scene with his popular hit record "Tony Montana" featuring Drake, Future has done no wrong when it came to releasing new material. One of his most profound mixtapes to be released was <em>Streetz Is Calling.</em> The tape featured one of Future’s major hits, "Same Damn Time," which most could say took his career to a whole another level and prepared the Dungeon Family member for the mainstream.</p>
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    <h2>Kid Ink, <em>Rocketshipshawty</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>November 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "OG," "Poppin’ Shit" (featuring Los), "Bossin’ Up"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> If you never heard a Kid Ink record or body of work before, it's recommended you start with his mixtape <em>Rocketshipshawty</em>. Without a doubt, every song on this project was flawless and has the ability to be played from beginning to end. Kid Ink shined for his fusion of pop and hip-hop records, which meant he had the potential to be a threat on the charts.</p>
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    <h2>Machine Gun Kelly, <em>100 Words And Running</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>February 2010<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Arsonist," "Can’t Stop Me," "Still Get It In Ohio"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Machine Gun Kelly doesn’t hold back as he delivered one great freestyle after the next on his mixtape, <em>100 Words And Running.</em> The Cleveland rapper took it upon himself to rap over popular beats from Jay Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye, Waka Flocka Flame and more. This was one tape that should not be slept on.</p>
  • don-trip-freshmen-48
    <h2>Don Trip, <em>Guerrilla</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b> February 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Trap’d In The Trap," "Human," "Spread Out"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> <em>Guerrilla</em> was one of the better mixtapes from Don Trip not only because of his clever lyricism but also for production reasons. Don Trip connected with fellow producers, The Renegades and Drumma Boy, to create some memorable songs on here like "Ruff," "Trap’d In The Trap," "Human" and more. Don Trip did a great job of keeping your attention with this tape and there was never a dull moment after pressing play.</p>
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    <h2>Iggy Azalea, <em>Ignorant Art</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>September 2011<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Pu$$y," "My World," "The Last Song"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>With so many female MC's popping up every now and then, Iggy Azalea was one of the few who really had staying power. Iggy connected with YG, Chevy Jones and Problem for <em>Ignorant Art</em>, as she rapped over mostly trap and some EDM-inspired beats here. Her song "My World" was her biggest record from the project. </p>
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    <h2>Roscoe Dash, <em>Roscoe Dash 2.0</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>August 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Sativa," "Zodiak Sign," "It’s My Party" (featuring Lil Jon and MGK)<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Roscoe Dash was the epitome of the term “Turn Up” and had a wide range of songs to choose from his popular mixtape <em>Roscoe Dash 2.0</em> to prove this theory. One of many standout tracks on this mixtape was his song "It’s My Party" featuring Lil Jon and MGK. Whether you were riding around with friends or at a party function, you can never go wrong playing this mixtape. </p>
  • macklemore-freshmen-51
    <h2>Macklemore, <em>The Unplanned Mixtape</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>September 2009<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "The Town," "Church," "Letterhead"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Before releasing his Grammy Award-winning album, <em>The Heist</em>, with Ryan Lewis, Macklemore created an awesome free project entitled <em>The Unplanned Mixtape.</em> This tape was packed with ten songs with features from Geologic, Sapient, and Illmaculate and production assisted by Jake One. The tape was very impressive as Macklemore delivered fun and witty lyrics on tracks like "Letterhead," but also can be serious on songs like "Church," which involved sensitive subject matters about religion. </p>
  • hopsin-freshmen-51
    <h2>Hopsin, <em>Raw 2.0</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>February 2011<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Animal Instinct," "Tomorrow Never Comes," "Ruthless"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>If you’re looking for a project with dark lyrics over rugged instrumentals, then Hospin’s mixtape <em>Raw 2.0</em> was the tape for you. The West Coast rapper didn't hesitate to speak his mind about how he feels regarding the music industry as well as his feelings towards other rappers on this tape. The project contained 17 songs and featured guest appearances from SwizZz, Vice Grip, Abyss and more. </p>
  • ab-soul-freshmen-53
    <h2>Ab-Soul, <em>Longterm 2: Lifestyles Of The Broke & Almost Famous</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>June 2010<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “Long Term,” “MayDay,” “Turn Me Up ” (featuring Kendrick Lamar)<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> It’s widely known that TDE doesn’t release mixtapes, but rather independent albums. Still, those rare occasions when the West Coast juggernaut offers free material, you know you are in for something special. When Soul was an up-and-coming spitter, he released the second installment of his Longterm series, which showcased hip-hop at its finest with meticulous lyrics, banging beats and an overall sense of purpose to be greater than his peers. At this early stage of his career, he was already on track to becoming a big deal out of Cali.</p>
  • school-boy-freshmen-54
    <h2>ScHoolboy Q, <em>Setbacks</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>August 2011<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “Druggys Wit Hoes” (featuring Ab-Soul), “Say Wassup,” “iBETiGotSUMWEED”<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Q’s first major mixtape/free album would be a major turning point for the Black Hippy crew. While they were relatively under the radar, Q’s confidence as the next rapper to blow up garnered the right attention for them. On <em>Setbacks,</em> he painted his hood tales with a laidback style that was easy to get lost in. Nowadays, Q is rubbing elbows with 50 Cent and 2 Chainz and just came off a No. 1 album, <em>Oxymoron,</em> on the Billboard 200. Good things come to those who wait.</p>
  • joey-badass-freshmen-55
    <h2>Joey Bada$$, <em>1999</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>June 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “FromdaTomb,” (featuring Chuck Strangers), “Survival Tactics,” (featuring Capital STEEZ) “Hardknock” (featuring CJ Fly)<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Joey Bada$$ was just a teenager when he made <em>1999.</em> At 17, Joey had a unique gift of channeling the 1990s era of hip-hop with a modern flair. Over breezy beats by MF Doom and J Dilla, he showcased his talents alongside promising Pro Era spitters Capital STEEZ and Chuck Strangers. At the same time, Joey was able to create a relaxing a tranquil vibe that sums up the “Beast Coast” perfectly. With such a strong debut as youngin, rap fans are waiting at the edge of their seats for his debut album, <em>B4.DA.$$.</em></p>
  • bronson-freshmen-55
    <h2>Action Bronson, <em>Blue Chips</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>July 2008<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Ten G’s A Week," "Sittin’ So High," "Swagger To The Max"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Action Bronson’s grind was pretty admirable up to this point. After numerous collaborative mixtapes with Tommy Mas, Statik Selektah, and Harry Fraud, the Queens rapper found his sweet spot with Party Supplies. <em>Blue Chips</em> paired him up with the Brooklyn producer who laid down hazy loops that fit perfectly with Bronsolino’s grainy voice and whirlwind wordplay. The results were a foolproof product that they’ve entirely made as their own thing. No Ghost comparisons, here.</p>
  • dizzy-wright-freshmen-56
    <h2>Dizzy Wright, <em>Free SmokeOut Conversations</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>June 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “Independent Living” (featuring Hopsin, SwizZz), “Can’t Trust Em (Remix) (featuring Jarren Benton, Angel Haze)” “Funk Volume 2012”<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Dizzy Wright came into his own after a successful debut in SmokeOut Conversations. Never to leave the mixtape game behind, Dizzy dropped a follow-up to his album called Free SmokeOut Conversations. Keeping everything in-house with smooth beats by DJ Hoppa, Hopsin and SwizZz, Dizzy holds it down with charismatic rhymes all over. “Brother, Las Vegas won’t have another / Tell <em>XXL</em> I want the motherfuckin’ cover!” he raps on “Can’t Trust ‘Em (Remix).” Foreseeing the future.</p>
  • angel-haze-freshmen-57
    <h2>Angel Haze, <em> Classick </em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>July 2008<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “Doo Wop (That Thing),” “Cleaning Out My Closet” <br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Angel Haze’s <em>Reservation</em> EP set the stage for her to bubble out of the underground with tracks like “New York” and “Werkin’ Girls.” With all eyes on her, Haze dropped an inventive mixtape called <em>Classick,</em> which found her remixing tracks by Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott and Eminem. The best showcase of both her talent and vulnerability came in “Cleaning Out My Closet,” where she recalled an sexual abuse and overcoming the trauma. The introspective track cemented her as a female rapper destined to be something greater.</p>
  • james-freshmen-58
    <h2>Trinidad Jame$, <em> Don’t Be S.A.F.E. </em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>October 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “Females Welcomed” (featuring Reija Lee), “All Gold Everything,” “Southside” (featuring Fortie Bowie)<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Who didn’t get turnt up when “All Good Everything” came on? Just off the strength of the song, the viral video and its remix, many listeners tuned into his debut mixtape <em>Don’t Be S.A.F.E.</em> James was pretty capable of delivering catchy hooks, and several of these songs here show that he was hip-hop’s next big hitmaker. Evolving from random Atlanta rapper to capable rap star, his success story couldn’t be duplicated in 2012.</p>
  • logic-freshmen-59
    <h2>Logic, <em> Young Sinatra: Welcome To Forever</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>May 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “On The Low” (featuring Kid Ink, Trinidad Jame$), “The Come Up,” “Man Of The Year”<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Why Logic? We answered the question when we placed the Maryland MC on 2013’s <em>XXL</em> Freshman class. Based on his tireless work ethic, endless tour schedule and impressive lyrical talent, Logic became our secret weapon we shared with a mass audience. Fresh off making the cover and inking a deal with Def Jam, he dropped his biggest mixtape to date, <em>Welcome To Forever.</em> It was a refreshing take on conscious rap that helped him rise to prominence. Let’s hope his debut album does the same.</p>
  • kirko-bangz-freshmen-60
    <h2>Kirko Bangz, <em> Progression 2: A Young Texas Playa</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>January 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “Drank In My Cup,” “Knowmtalmbout (featuring Paul Wall),” “The Crew”<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Drop any comparisons to Drake or Lil Wayne. Kirko Bangz carved his own lane after his smash “Drank In My Cup” broke him out of regional popularity to the mainstream. <em>Progression 2: A Young Texas Playa</em> was his best display of both singing and rapping, especially on deep cuts like “Play Me” and “Touch My Sky.” H-Town stand up.</p>
  • travis-scott-freshmen-61
    <h2>Travi$ Scott, <em> Owl Pharaoh</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>May 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “Upper Echelon” (featuring T.I., 2 Chainz), “Uptown” (featuring A$AP Ferg), “Quintana” <br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> After several high profile co-signs from the likes of Kanye West and T.I., Travi$ Scott had a lot of hype going into his debut mixtape, <em>Owl Pharaoh.</em> It certainly lived up to expectations with sharp production, strong rhymes and an overall atmosphere that banged. From rider-friendly tracks (“Hell Of Night,” “Dance On The Moon”) to bouncy joints (“Quintana,” “Blocka La Flame,”) Scott showed that he wasn’t going anywhere soon.</p>
  • chief-keef-freshmen-62
    <h2>Chief Keef, <em> Back From The Dead</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>March 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> “I Don’t Like” (featuring Lil Reese), “Designer,” “3Hunna (Remix)” (featuring Soulja Boy)<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Keef was already an rare anomaly in hip-hop before his breakthrough mixtape, <em>Back From The Dead.</em> At 16, Keef’s video for “Bang” invited us into his troubled world in Southside Chicago through raw lyrics that reflected everything around him. Months later, <em>Back From The Dead</em> served as Keef’s shining moment. Backed by explosive beats packed with gunshots from Young Chop, the aggressive nature of Sosa attracted everyone who was intrigued to learn more about his street topics. Rap’s next big thing had the game on lock, which was a huge feat for someone his age.</p>
  • jon-connor-freshmen-65
    <h2>Jon Connor, <em>The Blue Album</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>February 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Takeover," "Best In The World"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>For a tape written in only four days, Connor put his <em>Best In The World</em> series on full-on display, showcasing his rapid-fire rapping skills over much of the production that Jay Z rode toward becoming the greatest rapper alive. Connor's released more installments in the series—including his fantastic Kanye West-inspired project he dropped earlier this year—but his rhymes over Hov's multi-talented producers proved early on that he was not to be dismissed.</p>
  • lil-bibby-freshmen-66
    <h2>Lil Bibby, <em>Free Crack</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>November 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Water," "How We Move" (featuring King Louie), "Whole Crew"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>For a kid that is still entrenched in his teens, Lil Bibby has the voice of a man in his third decade in the game. But that was just a surface observation; any closer look reveals a kid particularly in tune with his surroundings who was willing to tell the street life the way it was, complete with all the drama, hardship and struggle that comes along with it. Bibby's <em>Free Crack</em> connected because it was different than the rest of the street rap flowing out of the gutters of Chicago; it was more perceptive, more lyrical in a sense, and it provided a more detailed look at a scene that had for so long seemed one-dimensional. "Trying to keep my head above water" has become a catchphrase that has extended beyond the confines of just his own neighborhood today.</p>
  • lil-durk-freshmen-68
    <h2>Lil Durk, <em>Signed To The Streets</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>October 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Dis Ain't What U Want," "Traumatized," "Bang Bros"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Durk’s tendency to craft effortlessly catchy hooks that still reflect the no mercy Chicago drill sound in which he crafts his tales sets him apart from his friends in the game, but it might be his ability to easily and simply describe the problems and issues surrounding him that will set him on a trajectory toward stardom. This entire tape was filled to the brim with club-worthy bangers, but Durk's pop sensibility—and by that we mean his ability to turn the street narrative that he's known for spitting into an easily-digestible sound bite—has always set him apart from his Southside Chicago partners in drill. If Durk was one of many before, this tape put him among a very select few.</p>
  • troy-ave-freshmen-68
    <h2>Troy Ave, <em>Bricks In My Backpack 3: The Harry Powder Trilogy</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>June 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Red Cup," "Chiddy Chiddy Bang Bang," "Merlot" (featuring Fabolous, Mila Brown)<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> New York City has had an uphill struggle to regain the dominance it once held over the hip-hop landscape, and<em> Bricks In My Backpack 3</em> was Troy Ave's most definitive claim to "Bringing New York Back" since the young Brooklyn rhymer emerged on the scene. Blending the street toughness of 50 Cent with the pop sensibilities of Ja Rule—and yes, that's no typo, though he may have to keep looking for his own Ashanti—Troy oozed the New York swagger that kept so many salivating at the feet of the New York OGs in their heyday. </p>
  • jarren-benton-freshmen-69
    <h2>Jarren Benton, <em>Freebasing With Kevin Bacon</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>June 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Billion Bucks" (featuring Rittz and Jon Connor), "Skitzo"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> With the Atlanta hip-hop scene dominated by the likes of 2 Chainz and Future and upstarts in that vein such as Rich Homie Quan, Jarren Benton has flown largely under the radar during his years in the game. But this tape put him firmly on the national radar, as influential independent label Funk Volume came calling based off the viral success of his single "Skitzo." Aligning himself with Hopsin, Dizzy Wright and the Funk Volume crew, Benton was able to catapult the success of Freebasing With Kevin Bacon into even greater national acclaim the following year, with this tape marking the turning point between well-respected underground rapper and nationally-touring main stage act.</p>
  • ty-dolla-sign-freshmen-70
    <h2>Ty Dolla $ign, <em>Beach House</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>October 2012<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "My Cabana" (featuring Jeezy)<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Dolla $ign's first real introduction to the mainstream as a lead artist set the tone for the ratchet R&B-esque tunes that he would eventually ride to bigger success with "Paranoid" and "Or Nah." "My Cabana" became one of the go-to tracks of the summer of 2013, proving that even if a mixtape doesn't catch on initially, sometimes the raw emotion and infectious energy of a project will have legs beyond many people's initial reactions. If his <em>Beach House</em> EP was his thesis statement, then <em>Beach House</em> was Dolla $ign's hypothesis, the one that put him on many a radar and helped catapult him into becoming one of the most exciting artists in hip-hop today.</p>
  • august-alsina-freshmen-71
    <h2>August Alsina, <em>Tha Product 2</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>May 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "I Luv This Shit" (featuring Trinidad Jame$), "Downtown" (featuring Kidd Kidd)<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> If you hadn't heard of the young Def Jam crooner before then, he was nearly impossible to escape following the release of <em>Tha Product 2.</em> With features from Juelz Santana, Curren$y, Kidd Kidd, The-Dream, Roscoe Dash and Jazze Pha—as well as his Trinidad Jame$-assisted, gold-selling single "I Luv This Shit," which peaked in the top 50 on the Billboard 200—August proved he was more than just another singer in the mold of Chris Brown or Trey Songz. The New Orleans singer isn't quite R&B and isn't at all a rapper, and he's defining the new wave of hip-hop with every new release.</p>
  • kevin-gates-freshmen-73
    <h2>Kevin Gates, <em>The Luca Brasi Story</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>February 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Paper Chasers," "Wylin'," "Narco Trafficante"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> For many in the South, Gates' ascent has been little surprise; to those outside his Louisiana home, <em>The Luca Brasi Story</em> was the first indication that hip-hop had another budding star on its hands. With an uncanny knack for storytelling and a seemingly effortless ability to craft a catchy hook, Gates took his tales of the streets to new heights and new audiences, announcing himself as one of those rare talents who can break out of the hometown bubble and really connect with a wider audience. Who needs a YMCMB co-sign when you've got all the talent in the world to tell your story in any way you feel necessary?</p>
  • rich-homie-quan-freshmen-74
    <h2>Rich Homie Quan, <em>Still Goin' In (Reloaded)</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>February 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Type Of Way," "Choices," "Differences"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> Were you, by any chance, alive in the summer of 2013? Then you know who Rich Homie Quan was. His ubiquitous "Type Of Way" became the go-to song of the summer, turning up everywhere from afternoon barbecues to late-night club sessions to the celebratory dance circle of the Michigan State college football program. Quan was able to turn the success of the song into a major label bidding war, and eventually wound up crooning the hook to the unofficial song of the winter of 2014—YG's "My Nigga"—meaning he's ruled two of the past four seasons of hip-hop. Tough to bet against his return to the forefront in the very near future.</p>
  • chance-the-rapper-acid-raop-75
    <h2>Chance The Rapper, <em>Acid Rap</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>April 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Juice," "Cocoa Butter Kisses" (featuring Vic Mensa and Twista), "Acid Rain"<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b> How can you explain the single best mixtape of 2013? To those not paying incredibly close attention, Chance took the hip-hop world by storm with his infectious, upbeat <em>Acid Rap</em>, redefining what was required of a mixtape from a kid who at the time was not even out of his teenage years. The defining feature of the tape becomes most apparent when trying to choose the standout tracks from a project that was so consistent and solid throughout that to highlight one track without nodding to those that follow or come before does it a disservice. If every track was your favorite, then what becomes the best? It was an achievement that hasn't been matched since, and that's saying something.</p>
  • Vic Mensa Innanetape
    <h2>Vic Mensa, <em>INNANETAPE</em></h2><p><b>Release Date: </b>September 2013<br /><b>Notable Songs:</b> "Orange Soda," "Hollywood LA" featuring Lili K, "Tweakin'" (featuring Chance The Rapper)<br /><b>Why Its Dope: </b>There was an early stigma attached to Vic's solo debut tape wherein he was compared—sometimes correctly, other times unfairly—to his childhood buddy Chance The Rapper. But once the majority began taking a second look at the young SaveMoney rapper/producer/singer/whatever you want to call him, it became very clear that he wasn't just another oddball Chicago guy trying to make a name for himself. Vic's rapid-fire delivery and always on-point narratives kept this tape in rotation for months, and he's since used the buzz to jump into newer, bigger and grander arenas. "Orange Soda" will soon become one of those songs he hates to perform as his career eclipses his initial output.</p>

Previously: XXL Freshmen Class: By The Numbers
XXL Freshmen 2014: Check Out The Latest Profiles And Freestyles