XXL’s Freshman Class Of 1993: What We Would’ve Said
As we roll out our annual Top Ten Freshman List for 2013, XXL decided to take a look back 20 years to weigh in on who would have been the members of the Freshman Class in the year 1993. All decisions were based on our current Freshman guidelines, meaning entire groups and artists who had released their debut albums prior to the list date were excluded.
The year 1993 is arguably one of hip-hop's most formative and sonically diverse dates in its lengthy history. It saw the West Coast's G-funk movement take full form through the newly founded Death Row Records. At the same, 1993 proved integral to the resurgence of of New York's then-dwindling hip-hop scene, as a new crop of hardcore lyricists took up the torch from forefathers like Rakim, KRS-One and Big Daddy Kane.
Editor's Note: Before anyone gets heated, the Notorious B.I.G. was not placed on the list, as his early hits "Party & Bullshit" and the remix of Mary J. Blige's "Real Love" were not released until later in '93.
Big L - "Devil's Son," Showbiz & A.G.'s "Respect"
Although it wouldn't be until 1995 that he released his acclaimed debut Lifestylez Ov Da Poor And Dangerous, Big L made his first mark in hip-hop with his appearance on the remix to Lord Finesse's "Yes You May." That same year, L would go on to join Finesse's Diggin' in the Crates collective, as well as appear on Showbiz and AG's "Respect" off their 1992 debut Runaway Slave. However, it was the success of his solo single "Devil's Son" that confirmed the Harlem native would be a major force in hip-hop.
Buckshot of Black Moon - "Who Got Da Props"
Buckshot of Black Moon enjoyed a successful year in 1992, perfectly preparing himself for for a massive freshman year in '93. Black Moon scored a Billboard Hot 100 hit with 1992's single "Who Got Da Props," and that same year, the Brooklyn crew signed a record deal with Nervous Wreckchords. At the forefront of the group was was the B.D.I. Thug, letting suckers know who got the props in '92.
Nas - Main Source's "Live at the Barbeque," "Halftime"
Even though he's more likely associated with 1994 as a result of his seminal debut Illmatic, Nasty Nas firmly established himself as one of hip-hop's must-watch MCs in '93. After his iconic debut on Main Source's "Live at the Barbeque" in '91, Nas kept his name ringing in the following 12 months with the release of his Extra P-produced single "Halftime." That same year, Nas inked a deal with Columbia and hired 3rd Bass alum MC Serch as his manager, prompting many listeners to dub him the second coming of Rakim.
Jeru the Damaja - Gang Starr's "I'm the Man," "Come Clean"
Jeru the Damaja's ascension to the top of hip-hop's class came about as dramatically as his rhyme style. The East Brooklyn emcee first gained notoriety after appearing on "I'm the Man" from Gang Starr's seminal third LP Daily Operation in 1992 with fellow Foundation member Lil Dap. Shortly after, Jeru scored a massive underground success with his Premo-produced single "Come Clean," solidifying his spot on the '93 freshman list.
Kurious - Powerule's "Young Stars From Nowhere," "Walk Like a Duck"
Although it wouldn't be until 1994 that he would release his successful debut album A Constipated Monkey, Kurious' career leading up to then was exceedingly promising. The Spanish Harlem representative cut his teeth alongside the likes of Powerule and the Prime Minister Pete Nice - an association that helped him sign a deal with Columbia Records - on songs like "Young Stars From Nowhere" and "3 Blind Mice," respectively. However, it would be his 1992 single "Walk Like a Duck" that helped solidify his spot on 1993's freshman class list.
Method Man - Wu-Tang Clan's "Protect Ya Neck," "M-E-T-H-O-D Man"
Though RZA was the gang-leader, Method Man was Wu-Tang's standout member right away with a perfect blend of a raspy street-inspired voice, quick-witted humor and crossover charm. The rest of the Wu accepted him as a star right away, giving him the b-side of their debut "Protect Ya Neck" single for the seminal hit, "M.E.T.H.O.D. Man." In 1993, the Wu released their full-length, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), and Meth was featured on nine of the album's thirteen tracks.
Ganksta N-I-P - "Actions Speak Louder Than Words"
Even though the East and West coasts largely dominated hip-hop in '93, Houston's Ganksta N-I-P carved a niche for himself as of independent hip-hop's fastest rising artists. In 1992, the horror core veteran released his debut album The South Park Psycho via Rap-A-Lot Records. Although the LP didn't boast a single, it managed to peak at #63 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and #5 on the Top Heatseekers charts, selling over 100,000 copies at the local level. The success of his little-known album helped N-I-P secure a record deal with Priority.
Snoop Doggy Dogg - "Deep Cover," "Ain't Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang"
Few other artists had quite the level of buzz as Snoop Dogg leading into 1993. The Long Beach California MC released one of hip-hop's most iconic cuts "Deep Cover" with Death Row honcho Dr. Dre. However, it was Snoop's extensive work on Dre's solo debut The Chronic that reaffirmed his growing clout in hip-hop, contributing star-making verse to songs like "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang," "Fuck With Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')" and "Bitches Ain't Shit."
Lady of Rage - Chubb Rock's "Bring 'Em Home Safely," Dr. Dre's "Stranded on Death Row"
The Lady of Rage got her start as a member of the Queens-based Outlaw Brothers, through which she contributed a verse to production collective the L.A. Posse's "Total Chaos." Her next major feature came on East Coast veteran Chubb Rock's anti-war song "Bring 'Em Home Safely" that same year. However, it would be her show-stealing contributions to Dre's Death Row debut The Chronic that solidified her place in 1993's freshman class.
RBX - Dr. Dre's "High Powered," "The Day The Niggaz Took Over"
Like his fellow Death Row inmates Snoop and Rage, RBX's appearances on Dr. Dre's The Chronic helped catapult the Long Beach MC to hip-hop notoriety. In 1992, the "High Powered" rapper and cousin of Snoop Dogg and Daz Dillinger signed with the budding West Coast label and contributed extensively to Dre's debut. Although he tenure at the label proved brief - he split from Death Row in 1994 - his work with the Cali collective ensured his legacy in later year.