Top 10 [New York] Freshmen for ’93

Last night’s Freshmen ’10 Live Show was a success to say the least. Everybody did their thing. New York’s own, Cam’ron, came through and repped the city in full force—literally.

Harlem was definitely in the building.

Killa’s U.N. partner Vado held it down, as well, and proved he’s worth keeping an eye on in he future. For me, though, I was imagining a Dipset reunion as Cam ran through Dip classics. I caught even more crazy flashbacks of when Harlem great Big L was that dude in the city, as Vado rocked “Large in the Streets.”

Flashing back even further to 1993 when L was hot, Nas had Queens on lock, and Biggie Smalls was biggin’ up Brooklyn, New York could have had its own Freshmen 10. No debate, no bullshit. But then again, you can’t make everyone happy. So I’m sure there will be some debate after this one.

Going off who was hot back then, and NOT taking into account what they eventually accomplished in their career, this is what an all New York Freshmen list could have looked like in 1993, IMHO. Remember, no members of groups. So don’t go ape shit if you don’t see Buckshot, Ghostface, Meth, or Raekwon. —Rondell Conway

My 10 [New York] Freshmen for ’93 Cover

L was the hottest in Harlem. He inked a deal with Columbia in 1993 and released his debut single “Devil’s Son.”


After stealing the show on MC Serch’s “Back To The Grill Again” the Queenbridge disciple went hard with “Halftime.”

He was discovered in the Source’s Unsigned Hype, linked up with Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs and from here his career was way more than party and bullshit.


With a distinct style the Ak had a serious buzz that was a big as a bomb.

With his Erick Sermon’s co-sign and futuristic flow, Mr. Murray was poised to be that next lyrical giant from LI (Long Island). Plus, his style was mad hostile.

The rapid-fire flow was cool, but Jigga was still a few hot lines away from running the city but he could definitely get open.


The fat gangster’s flow needed some work back then, but he had a street banger with “Flow Joe.”

One of the biggest singles in the nine-trey was “Whutcha Want?


Under the guidance of DJ Premier, the East New York, Brooklyn rapper was dropping knowledge in the streets and always would come clean.

Two words: “Time’s Up.”

Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • sealsaa

    Nas. No question.

  • sealsaa

    Nas. No question

    • yessir343


      • Mistah R.E.D.


    • b

      u damm right at that time couldnt hanlde him

  • OhioHustle

    in 93′ I’d have to go with Nas… after being featured on Main Source’s “Live @ The BBQ” and MC Serch’s “Back To The Grill” I think EVERYBODY was waitin for him to drop an album… Even in Ohio, we knew a true classic was coming right around the corner

  • house

    Nas definitely had a huge buzz at that point.

    When you look at the recent freshmen classes you can see why the quality of hip hop has suffered.

  • jonny bizness

    At the time i was feeling keith murray more than anybody else on the list cos the hit squad was at their peak at the time.when keith dropped the most beautiful it was a even made me look at a dictionary !!!!!!!!!!

  • $yk

    Nas in ’93.

    Respecting them O.C., Jeru & Nine picks. We just started seeing that west coast life in Boyz & Menace so we knew we weren’t alone in the hoods. If I’m correct this was the 1st old school/new school conflict in Hip Hop.

  • $yk

    Nas in ’93.

    Respecting them O.C., Jeru & Nine picks. We just started seeing that west coast life in Boyz & Menace so we knew we weren’t alone in the hoods. If I’m correct this was the 1st old school/new school conflict in Hip Hop.

    • El Tico Loco


      Actually old school/new school conflicts were around for a while ironically Krs “bringin back that old new york rap” one went at melle mel in I’m still number 1 but he cleared it up the same verse which was dope, and Just Ice went at Kurtis Blow.

      • Pierzy

        What’s good, y’all?

        Nas was incredible in ’93. He was the total package (no Lex Luger) at that time.

        Jeru + Preemo was perfect for us on the east coast at the time too.

        And Jigga was 3 years away from his Reasonable Doubt flow…

      • $yk

        “Rap is still an art, and no-one’s from the old school/’Cause rap is still a brand-new tool

        I say no-one’s from the old school ’cause rap on a whole/Isn’t even twenty years old

        Fifty years down the line, you can start this/’Cause we’ll be the old school artists

        And even in that time, I’ll say a rhyme/A brand-new style, ruthless and wild…”

        ^ forgot about that. Kris was deadly.

  • HipHopDoctor

    “Remember, no members of groups. So don’t go ape shit if you don’t see Buckshot, Ghostface, Meth, or Raekwon. —Rondell Conway”

    While that may be the rules of this article, Meth (and the WU in general) had WAY more buzz than everyone on this list, save for Biggie and Nas.

    • ms_spittuh

      Not just the Wu at this time HipHopDoctor, but don’t forget Redman! I was 6 or 7 years old at this time. “Time 4 Sum Aksun” and “Tonight’s Tha Night” and “Funkorama” was the shit. I was feeling Reggie Noble a lil bit more than Keith Murray. ;)

  • raazi36

    NaS ! Mos Definetly

  • El Tico Loco

    Pudgee the Phat Bastard

  • SuperNi**a

    Nas you couldn’t walk a step without hearing about that dude, Nas was and can still be N.Y.’s king.

  • JihaD


    Ya’ll niggas wouldn’t have picked no Camel. He didn’t even have a buzz like that in NY when his album dropped. That shit is blatent pandering…


  • epinz

    i dnt know if yall remember a boy named hood. he was down with de la and them and was on the scenario remix. he was killed but homeboy had major underground buzz, moreso than jay-z….

    • EmCDL

      I was wondering who was flowing like that on the remix, dude was ill with it

    • sb

      that was like 91-92

  • El Tico Loco

    Seriously the Jay Z pick was a helluva stretch there when his buzz was not that heavy at the time not even in the underground 94? 95? maybe, if you pull that “can I get open” shit on me you know that wasn’t 93. So actually how could you classify Jay Z he paid his dues (since the 80′s) but his buzz used to fluctuate until he dropped an album. He was like the first Pappoose/Saigon.

  • El Tico Loco

    Seriously the Jay Z pick was a helluva stretch there when his buzz was not that heavy at the time not even in the underground 94? 95? maybe, if you pull that “can I get open” shit on me you know that wasn’t 93. So actually how could you classify Jay Z he paid his dues (since the 80′s) but his buzz used to fluctuate until he dropped an album. He was like the first Pappoose/Saigon..

  • EmCDL

    I always thought Biggie had the biggest buzz; when I was living in Virginia at the time, all the folks around there were bumpin’ Biggie hard everywhere….hell, Bad Boy in general. Heard some Nas here and there too, but mostly Biggie reigned in VA.


    93′ freshman > 10′freshman

    thats fact


    BIG L period . Nas was nce coming off the BBBQ record but L was nasty , shoot he even did J in on the freestyle joint .

    I do remember a kid in high school telling me that all he listened to was Biggie Smalls but i had not heard him yet so i didn’t know .

  • Lowedwn

    Nas, no doubt. But the nostaglia this list brings up can’t be beat, so props to every artist on this list. And Nas, definitely had the biggest buzz, but my nigga back then was Keith Murray

    We need a new “Time’s Up” for this new crop of rapsters.

  • Dj Point

    Gay-Z was like 39 as a freshmen and i cant wait til somebody caps Joe Camel..Catch you slippin and i’m gonna hit you wit the lama..

    Nas hands down would ether any of these dudes

  • El Tico Loco

    Back then I had my money on Akinyele because of his verse on BBQ, he showed the most energy on that cut, then Nas, then Fatal til I found out that Pudgee the Phat Bastard (google it) ghostwrote his verse.

    • $yk

      ^ Totally forgot about Top Quality-’Magnum Opus’

    • El Tico Loco

      I forgot about dude, hence no mention on the list that’s like the most slept on member of the Hit Squad. He had a major battling reputation.

    • sb

      live at the bbq was one of the best posse cuts..easily in the top 10

  • Sleepy Wonder

    Chances Are You Idiots At XXL Would Have Passed On Nas To Put MC Hammer Or Vanilla Ice On Your Cover.

  • mav

    jay-z wasnt really known nationally like that till hard knock life real talk 93 he was probly still husslin and shit xxl is retarded 4 that

  • Garrett “Reservoir”

    Man, XXL should probably do Freshman 10′s through the years… that’d be dope!


    Didnt NINE’s “Whatchu Want” come out in 95′?

  • Fireforreal

    Nah Homie that was I think early 94. I heard it on a kid capri tape. Dude sounded like Dmx. The difference with the freshmen class then and now is now or even 08,09 they don’t inspire you and only a few(asher roth,Lupe,Wale and Lil boosie) Have dropped albums. The rest of those freshmen seem to be lefted back I guess because hip hop sucks ass in the 2010.


    “Method Man” & “Proteck ya Neck”

    • sb


  • Dee El

    Jay-Z, a FRESHMAN in 1993????!!??? This dude already had been heavily featured on two albums by then, if not more. HP Get’s busy(86) Word to the Jaz (88), The Originators(90) (Hence the Originators’98 subtitle for Jigga What Jigga Who). Come on guys get it right. I’d expect this type of mis-information from the likes of Rolling Stone and VH-1, not XXL. Damn, this is why youngsters don’t know shit about hip hop.

    Dee El sends

    • big coke

      Yeah jay gets no love in 93 but you guys are really not giving REDMAN love he held it down most of early 90′s

  • General

    Hate to break up the usual NY love fest on these blogs, but there was one cat that had a much bigger buzz nationally at this point than any of these cats and should have been included…

    Snoop had the music industry and fans trippin waitin for him to drop somethin solo after his appearance on the Deep Cover track and The Chronic. Not only was his buzz bigger than all those on the list, but I think he easily ended up being the more prolific and relevant compared with this group. I’m not sayin he’s better than Nas or BIG, but he did more overall than both…

    As far as Jay, c’mon, he shouldn’t even have been on this list, cuz nobody was really checkin for Jay at this point

    • http://xxlmag jruckNYC

      u right kid. I was wondering where snoop was at. And Jay had no buzz at that time. real talk.

  • Anonymous

    How is it that WuTang didn’t play a part on this?

  • Trin

    Jay Z isn’t supposed to be on this list at all he had NO buzz in 93 at all in NYC or anywhere. Im from the area no 1 knew who he was till 96-97 I remember when “aint no nigga’ shit dropped with foxy on it every one was asking who was that rapper with foxy No 1 really knew Jay like that in 96. heck resonable doubt aint even sell like that that year… PPl need to stop jocking Jayz nuts and really say the real..

    Nas had the biggest Solo buzz, Redman was up there too. Wu and Bootcamp on the clicks

  • Trin

    Remember we talking 1993, BIG wasnt even making that much noise till 1994, Craig Mack had a big single too.

  • Trin

    And the NINE single aint drop till 94-95 I bought that tape when it first dropped, SMH at poor blog writing! word up!

  • esco702

    NAS hands down this by far has been one of the better articles on this site.

  • Jhon da Analyst

    Buckshot and Black Moon were doin their thing. Might even have to put Prodigy up there. Yeah, Pudgee the Phat Bastard was doin some nice shit. Caught him on the 2 train and he was tellin me he went on tour and some chick spent all his loot. damn……

  • HERM

    Can you imagine seeing a magazine cover with all these cats?

  • Chris S

    i was 3 yrs old in ’93 but looking back now:

    1. Nas
    2. Big L
    3. Jay-Z
    4. Notorious

    big l may have been the most talented out of the group. maybe…

  • SMH

    Jay shouldn’t even be on this list.

  • Pingback: Daily Recap – 4/2/10 at SNICKA

  • newyawka631

    Keith Murray is still a beast……Long Island stand up……Who’s from Long Island???Rakim,Public Enemy,De La Soul,Epmd,Busta,Keith Murray,K-Solo…don’t sleep on us……

    • King Joffy Joe

      What? I thought that Busta was from Flatbush?

  • kedordu


  • Fireforreal

    That’s true because snoop had a bigger than Drake buzz. That’s why for 10 years he held the record for biggest 1st week for a debut album. It wasn’t until 50′s get rich or die tryin came out. And why isn’t the wu on there ?

  • lmao

    nigga i was 3 in 93…hellutalmbout….im 20 nah…

  • sam123

    nas had it on locked but Big later toke over fro everybody

  • grammyboy

    Mad niggas had bars back then, even fat Joe was ill. But Nass was def a top dog in 93

  • watchuwant

    son look at all the ugly hoes surrounding Akinyele. lol. i wonder if our women are gunna look wack in pictures ten years later

  • LongWinded

    Imma break it down the way it is suppose to…

    First, if we are to imagine that the freshman ’93 mag came out in 1993 then that means that all of the freshmen would have had to begin creating their buzz in middle to late 1992 so we need to begin looking at artists who had joints in 1993.

    @epinz is correct when saying that at that time The Scenario (Remix) was the shit and Kid Hood, the dude that rapped first and has the infamous line “Imma bad bad man” was that nigga until he got murdered.

    Jay-Z’s buzz was not hot as of yet due to the fact that he was still running behind Big L and only had that uptown connect due to Dame Dash. Jay-Z’s buzz really began in late 94-95 due to those R&b remixes that he was appearing on. You can make an argument that Fab got the blueprint for R&B remixes from Jay.

    Can’t use OC cuz Time’s Up dropped in 1994 and the joint he debut on with Organized Konfusion “Fudge Pudge” was hot but didn’t really create that much of a buzz for him like Time’s Up did.

    Can’t give you Fat Joe on this list. Flow Joe was a cool record musically but Joe really benefited from being connected to the right heads uptown including DITC to get some music out. Lyrically, he was impressing no one at the time…no shots.

    Can’t use Keith Murray because EPMD had dropped Business Never Personal in 1992 and was killing the Game with Headbanger track and was to busy selling to the world Das EFX and Redman. Keith came up after EPMD broke up under Eric Sermon with that Hostile record towards the end of 1993 so he would probably qualify for Freshmen list ’94.

    Can’t use Nine cause his biggest record “Whutcha Want” didn’t even dropped till 1995 and he had no kinda buzz before that.

    During the early 90′s it was more about rap groups instead of solo artists, not that there wasn’t solo artists but more groups were popping during this year.

    Too much sleeping on the West Coast. The west had the game in a smash during this time so where are the west coast artists in this freshmen list?

    The Freshmen of ’93 were (in no particular order:

    Biggie Smalls (as he was known at the time)
    Big L
    Snoop Doggy Dogg (as he was known at the time)
    Kid Hood (R.I.P.)
    Domino (Getto Jam)
    MC Eiht
    Jeru The Damaja
    Casual – song called I Didn’t Mean To (Remix) better known as the beat that Biggie freestyles over called The Wickedest

    • SB


  • jadaqwest

    11-Raekwon/Black Thought(tied)
    9-Big L
    8-MC Eiht
    7-Keith Murray
    4-Method Man
    3-Notorious BIG
    1-Snoop Dogg

    • http://xxlmag jruckNYC

      Domino 1st album is a banger. idc what anyone says.

    • LongWinded


      if we are following the rules that the solo artists can’t be from a group then Meth, Rae and Black Thought cannot qualify. I agree that Meth’s buzz based off the Wu movement was crazy. Roots’ first album Organix didn’t create any buzz back then to qualify Black yet. That didn’t happen till 1995 Do You Want More. And at that time, Rae’s buzz was getting crazy. OC’s buzz came in 1994, Keith’s buzz didn’t begin till the end of 1993 making him eligible for freshmen 1994.

  • rob

    what bout pac he from ny yall sum hating dick sucker s

    • LongWinded


      Pac wasn’t a freshman at this time. He had already dropped 2pacolypse in 1991.

  • yessir

    If PAC, BIG,and BIG L didn’t die, Jay-Z would not be on top like he is right now.

    But like Jay said “When you play with skills good luck could happen”

  • CrunchyBlack187

    Yeah I remember ’93. Although life as a one-year old made it hard for me to keep up on the latest hip-hop news.

  • Anonymous

    LMAO @ Nas having a big buzz in ’93. Illmatic was considered to be one of the most overlooked albums at one point along with Word…Life.

    Biggie had a buzz that was larger than life.