Whether or not you believe in XXL magazine’s annual list of freshman rappers as an indicator of who’s next in hip-hop, you have the opportunity to vote local in shaping one of the genre’s most recognizable lists. Bobby Sessions, Erica Banks, Kaash Paige, and Tay Money are candidates for the contested 10th spot on the publication’s recurring feature. Sessions and Paige are (somewhat) recent Def Jam signees and Marvel collaborators. Erica Banks and Tay Money are currently ascending in part to their TikTok success.
The “Freshman Class” feature began in 2007 as an opportunity to highlight 10 emergent rappers with a yearbook-themed editorial cover. Ten years later, alumni from previous years have evolved into superstardom, such as Houston’s own Travis Scott and Megan Thee Stallion, alongside national acts like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole. Over the years, list have predicated Grammy award winning acts like Nipsey Hussle and Jay Rock to former Billboard charting musicians, like Asher Roth, B.o.B and Ugly God. The first (and last) Dallas rapper to be featured on the list was Oak Cliff’s Young Money signee Lil Twist, who made the spread in 2011.
For admirers, critics, and fans of the genre, the 10th spot spurs debate across group chats, social media, and in-person dialogue (remember that?) about the current and future state of hip-hop. The first nine spots get picked by XXL‘s editorial staff, but that 10th spot is meant to be an independent contestant, chosen by the fans. Dallas is historically overlooked in hip-hop, so the presence of four locals is an indicator of the industry’s sudden attention toward our city’s vibrant hip-hop community.
To vote, visit the website’s polling page and click on the artist’s profile. Voters are allowed to vote once every hour, so be sure to support local talent. You have until midnight on April 4.