Class Is In Session

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“Immaculate, this scatter rapping, no passing my blunt


Don’t you put me on freshman covers, I’m posing with lunch


Think they worthy of presence presently passing ’em up


No competing with bleachers jogging I’m running a muck” 

– Isaiah Rashad (“Soliloquy”)

Well, it’s that time of year again and everyone’s favorite debate can now begin; who should grace the cover and make the 2014 XXL Magazine freshman list? As the years go on, I find this list to be irrelevant, simply because of the over saturation of rappers and how rapidly new ones emerge on the scene. Additionally, at this point, there is a something for everybody and there really is no need to complain about the artists you don’t like. Just remember, having millions of YouTube hits and Twitter followers does not always translate in to mainstream success!

Both in 2012 and 2013, I got 5 out of the 10 correct, so I’m hoping for a better score this year! Feel free to share your list with me: You can post your list in the comment section at the bottom of the page or Tweet me @BreezyOnTheBeat! As always, I will update this page once the official cover is out!

Predictions for Cover:

August Alsina – August had a strong single and radio rotation with his single “I Luv It” featuring Trey Songz and Chris Brown, he also has a great sense of melody, and signed with Def Jam this year. His debut album, Testimony, is scheduled to be released on April 15th.

Sage The Gemini – Say what you want about Sage, but with two big singles (“Red Nose” and “Gas Pedal“), and girls twerking all over Vine, you can’t deny the impact his music has had in the clubs and on the radio this year.

Troy Ave – Acclaimed as one of the leaders of the new New York City hip-hop, Troy Ave has been putting in a lot of work this year in order to make himself a staple in the industry.

Ty Dolla $ – The Taylor Gang representer from the West Coast has had a great year so far with his own singles, as well as producing and writing for others including Chris Brown (“Loyal“) and Jennifer Lopez (“Girls“). His recently released Beach House EP has been well received thus far.

Chance The Rapper – The Internet has spoken.

Lil’ Bibby – With a co-sign from Drake and an impressive debut mixtape, Free Crack, Lil’ Bibby is one of this years leaders of the Chicago hip-hop scene.

Isaiah Rashad – TDE’s latest addition has been a nice fit to the crew and slowly proving that he can hold his own in a room full of superstars.

Young Thug – According to DJ Drama’s interview with The Breakfast Club, Young Thug declined to be on the cover.

K Camp – Atlanta’s K. Camp has been creating a strong buzz with his singles “Money Baby” and “Cut Her Off” featuring 2 Chainz; he recently signed a deal with Interscope as well.

Rich Homie Quan – “Type of Way” was a major his this year, he is featured on YG’s breakout single “My Hitta,” and he helped Michigan State win the Rose Bowl. Don’t feel any type of way when he’s on the cover Just work harder! 

Vic Mensa –  #SAVEMONEY

Perhaps a trip to the XXL office?

vm

Fat Trel – MMG’s latest signee has had a strong buzz over the last few years and with the help of Rick Ross, Fat Trel should have no problem being at the forefront this year.

Honorary Member: Doe B. (RIP)

Honorable Mentions:

See you in 2015!
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Update: I didn’t do so bad!
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2014 Freshman Class
Chance The Rapper. Rich Homie Quan. Isaiah Rashad. Ty Dolla $ign. Lil’ Durk. Troy Ave. Vic Mensa. Lil’ Bibby. Jon Connor. Jarren Benton. August Alsina.
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21st Century Soul: An Interview with John Legend

John Legend Flyer

This past Friday (March 29), I had the opportunity to talk with 9-time Grammy Award winning singer John Legend. Along with Julia Klein of Slope Media Group, she and I traded off questions to Mr. Legend ranging from his college days at The University of Pennsylvania, philanthropic endeavors, his passion for music, and of course his new album Love In The Future, which is due out on June 25th. One of the things I hope you conclude from both reading this article and listening to the interview is that John Legend credits passion and luck to where he is today. As he mentioned to us, “You’ve gotta meet the right people, you’ve gotta have a roommate who’s Kanye’s cousin and that helps.”

John Legend Breezy

Going into this interview I wasn’t the biggest fan of John’s music, but I certainly have great respect for him and his talents. After about 15-minutes of speaking with him, followed by about an hour or so lecture and performance, I now know that John Legend truly enjoys sharing his voice to his audience through teaching. As a committed philanthropist, John Legend is on the board of Teach For America and the Harlem Village Academy. He also spends a lot of time trying to improve inner city schools and education reform. I guess we’re all just ‘ordinary people’…

The promotion for your new album Love In The Future is now underway. Last week you released two new tracks; the first being the Hit-Boy produced “The Beginning” and the official single “Who Do You Think We Are” featuring Rick Ross. What has the initial feedback been on these tracks?

It’s been great. Only time will tell with these things because a lot of it is determined as things get to radio and they kind of build an audience from week to week so we’ll see how it goes, but so far I’ve almost seen nothing but positive feedback and so I feel good about it. I feel very proud of the songs themselves, I feel very proud of the album and I think it’s going to be my best album yet so I’m excited.

Personally, I think “Who Do You Think We Are” is an incredible track. The passion and soul you incorporate with the Jean Knight sample is really something everyone could enjoy. On top of that, Rick Ross’ vocals glide right over the beat. Obviously the chemistry between you guys is undeniable from “Magnificent” to “Sweet Life”, “Rich Forever” and Meek Mill’s “Maybach Curtains.” With that being said, can you explain your relationship with Rick Ross and when are we getting a collaboration album! 

Well, Rick and I aren’t close friends who call each other up and hang out, it’s more of a professional relationship, but it’s one of mutual respect for each other as artists and the recognition that we really do sound good together. So we’ve done a lot of those tracks and we have similar musical sensibilities, I think. When it comes to bringing hip-hop and soul together, our voices just work really well together. And, it is often been kind of discussed the idea that we could do something together as a full album and I think that it is still possible.

Love in the Future, new album is coming out June 25th, and the title has a few meanings. Of course you’re getting married so congratulations on that, and on top of that you said it’s about the style of music that’s on the album which you called a 21st century soul album. So what is the meaning behind a 21st century soul album and what can we look for?

Well you know, when I went into this project the main thing I talked about with my collaborators was, everyone knows I do kind of a vintage soul sound, everyone compares me to singers that came like 40 years ago. How do we keep that but still move the music forward? That was really the mission musically and creatively, thinking about how to make a really beautiful modern soul album that was the goal.

In regards to your 2008 album Evolver, you’ve mentioned that during that time period Kanye wasn’t really around to be fully invested in your project…

Kanye’s been more involved in this album then any of my other albums.

Kanye/John

Does it feel like the Get Lifted era again?

I think there are some elements of that, but he’s actually more creatively involved in this album then Get Lifted. Once again, he was involved in those albums, but this time less as a beat maker and more of a creative advisor or executive producer.

I wanted to take a moment and reflect on your career, specifically as a member of G.O.O.D. Music. When you see everything from Consequence acting crazy on VH1’s Love and Hip Hop to G.O.O.D. Music affiliate Travi$ Scott on this years XXL Freshman cover to Big Sean & 2 Chainz becoming hip-hop superstars, what are you thoughts on the evolution of G.O.O.D. Music and where it is now? 

GOOD Music

Well, I think Kanye has great taste and he is a great executive producer and a great creative mind, and so he’s been good at signing some really talented people. Some of those people are more unofficial G.O.O.D. Music members, like 2 Chainz, but either way, Kanye knows talent and he knows people that have something special and he’s able to help them become even better than they were without him. I think those two things; the ability to help them get better and ability to find them in the first place, are two things that make a great label executive.

Signed "Cruel Summer" CD

Signed “Cruel Summer” CD

What’s next for you in preparation for the album?

We have a video for “Who Do You Think We Are” that we shot last week, and that will be coming out in April. The video is awesome. Then we’ll put out another single right before the album comes out and we’ll keep on moving. We’ll be touring in Europe over the summer doing festivals, then we’ll come back to the States and do a U.S. tour in the fall/winter and I’m excited to roll this out.    

Update: John Legends album “Love in the Future” will now be released on September 3rd, 2013

At The Top It’s Just Us

10spot

“You never see me on lists inside these magazines /
But I’m The Source of rap discussions, they Vibe-in with Ortiz”

– Joell Ortiz (“Nursery Rhyme“)

Last January, I wrote an article titled Too Many Indians, Not Enough Chiefs. The article expressed my views on the over saturated hip-hop industry and its correlation to XXL Magazine’s Freshman list. Again, this year the publication has selected 50 artists to fight for a chance to land on the “covenant” list. Through the power of Twitter, fans have the ability to vote and contribute; generally, the list is released in February. Below are my predictions for who will end up on the cover, honorable mentions, and wildcards.

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Personally, I don’t think this list is very relevant anymore. We are at a point in time where we are seeing many artist reach a level of success their own way, independently. Nonetheless, many people tend not to agree with the final list, but it makes for good debates. I have selected my lists based on popularity, impact, and regional dominance. What’s talent these days, anyway?

Last year, I got 5 out of the 10 correct and 3 of my honorable mentions made the list as well. Feel free to share your list with me: You can post your list in the comment section at the bottom of the page or Tweet me @BreezyOnTheBeat!

To vote, click here

Predictions for Cover:

Ab-Soul | Action Bronson | Casey Veggies | Hit-Boy

Gunplay | Lil’ Reese | Rockie Fresh | Schoolboy Q | Trinidad James | Joey Bada$$

Honorable Mentions:

A$AP Ferg | Chinx Drugz | Chris Webby | Lil’ Durk | Riff Raff | Troy Ave

Wildcards:

Tito Lopez | Young Scooter | Ty$ | King L

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Updated with official list: I got 5 out of 10 again this year. Let me know your thoughts! Twitter: @BreezyOnTheBeat

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                                  Ab-Soul | Action Bronson | Logic | Kirko Bangz

Angel Haze | Travi$ Scott | Dizzy Wright | Schoolboy Q | Trinidad James | Joey Bada$$

Too Many Indians, Not Enough Chiefs

“Too many chiefs, but not enough Indians

See everybody needs to play they position”

– E-40 (“It’s All Gravity”)

Every year, XXL Magazine, one of the largest hip-hop publications, releases their top freshman class for the upcoming year. Some past alums have gone on to be successful such as Lupe Fiasco, B.o.B., and Wiz Khalifa; and some have gone on to be the biggest busts in hip-hop history. Shout out to Charles Hamilton and Papoose! But what is it about this list that excites everyone UNTIL the actual cover is released and your favorite new artist didn’t make it? Everyone is a critic these days. The power of the blogs has created the ability for people to post comments and share their thoughts: the modern day industry executive.

This year XXL decided to do something different. They posted 50 nominees on their website, and fans got to vote 1 time for their favorite artist. 50 artists!!!! That right there is problem #1. For an industry that is so small, and already saturated, there are too many people trying to enter the game. GO TO SCHOOL PEOPLE! GET AN EDUCATION! Just because you “rap,” have a computer, and can upload a video to YouTube doesn’t mean you have talent or ability to succeed in the industry! Yes it’s true that you don’t actually need a record deal to achieve success in this day in age (See Maintaining Independence: Hip-Hop’s New Business Model), but use some common sense people! It’s cooler to tell someone that you’re a doctor or a lawyer rather than saying you’re an up and coming rapper, because (1.) it’s bullshit and (2.) it sounds silly. If you really wanted to drive a fancy car or buy out the bar, get a profession that actually gives you that ability!

Cortez Bryant – manager to Lil’ Wayne, Nicki Minaj & Drake – via Twitter, Jan. 18

Be smart and invest in yourself wisely!

Anyway, XXL only chooses 10 artists for the cover so here are my predictions. I put honorable mentions as well.

My Predictions:

Don Trip                                          Danny Brown

Chase N Cashe                             A$AP Rocky

MGK                                               Future

Casey Veggies                               French Montana

Stalley                                            Schoolboy Q

Other close possibilities: Action Bronson, Chip Tha Ripper, Roscoe Dash, Chevy Woods, Kirko Bangz, Los, Iggy Azalea, Macklemore, and Slim The Mobster

Top freshman producers: Hit-Boy, Mike Will Made It, Clams Casino, Beat Billionaire, Lil’ Lody, and Jahlil Beats