Skip to main content

XXL Freshmen List 2017: 5 must-hear songs

Our picks for five songs you must hear from this crop of up-and-comers.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

Be the first to impress your friends with knowledge of the Freshmen's finest hours.

Right now the headlines are filled with room-temperature takes on "The internet is mad at XXL's Freshmen List," as they are every year because the internet is in a constant state of anger. Despite the fact that your friend who raps didn't make the list and you maybe aren't familiar with some of the names, there's actually some gems on this year's list that are absolutely worth hearing.

Here's our five favorites!

Kamaiyah - "How Does It Feel?"
From: Bay Area, CA
The two biggest criticisms of XXL's choices over the years have been a stark lack of 1) women and 2) Bay Area representatives. Checking both of those boxes is our favorite of the list, Kamaiyah. A stellar syllable-stacking lyricist with a deep arsenal of flows and an impeccable ear for beats, her performance on "How Does it Feel?" absolutely slaps.

Aminé - "Caroline"
From: Portland, OR
If you recognize one name on the list, it's probably Aminé, who had a genuine massive hit in "Caroline" and destroyed Soundset a few weeks back. As fun of a jam as that track is, it was his amazing performance on Fallon shortly after the election last year that made us realize that he's a tremendous talent.

Kyle - "iSpy (Remix)"
From: Ventura, CA
If Kyle seems like he came out of nowhere with his catchy springtime earworm "iSpy," you might be forgetting his previous buzz under the name K.i.D. Looking to pull a 2 Chainz with a successful re-name/rebranding, one listen to the Yachty-free "iSpy" remix displays Kyle's skills as a solo artist, even outshining last year's freshman Kodak Black.

Kap G - "Ay Yi Yi"
From: Atlanta, GA
Kap G's album SuperJefe unquestionably has this year's best cover art. Unfortunately, it also has the distinction of dropping the same night as Kendrick Lamar's Damn. Temporarily overshadowed, hopefully his refreshingly unique persona and compelling ear for influences can finally get some shine under the Freshmen banner.

Ugly God - "Bernie Sanders"
From: Houston
There's something about living in a post-meme world that few artists can really tap into. Ugly God gets it, and despite personally having a smaller internet presence than just about any Freshman in history, his limited released material has gone viral almost instantly. More than just an "influencer," Ugly God's comedic timing with his punchlines are some of rap's most potent, making him absolutely one to watch.

Next Up

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Here’s what the Vikings owners say about new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

The Vikings announced his hiring on Wednesday night.

raiaing canes brooklyn park crop

After 3-month delay, newest Twin Cities Raising Cane's opens

The restaurant was originally scheduled to open in October.

st anthony armed robbery screengrab

Armed man robs Twin Cities thrift store, flees in carjacked pickup

He pulled out a handgun shortly after chatting with the cashier about his scarf.

red wing 6

Gallery: Pagoda-inspired home on Lake Pepin for sale for $2M

The home has 425 feet of private shoreline on the Mississippi River.

Walz, Flanagan

Walz proposes legalizing marijuana in massive supplemental budget

It's among the provisions in his "Budget to Move Minnesota Forward."

Plow 2 (1)

Photos reveal damage from gunshots to Minneapolis snowplow

A hydraulic line and three tires were damaged in the shooting.

unsplash - school classroom students

Minneapolis schools confirm return to in-person teaching Monday

The school district shifted to online learning almost two weeks ago as rising COVID cases led to staff and bus driver shortages.

Flickr - Superior National Forest Boundary Waters

Mineral leases for proposed Twin Metals mine near Boundary Waters canceled

A review by the DOI found "significant legal deficiencies" with the leases' 2019 renewal.


Reward to find person who left kittens to die in freezing WI cold

The cats were thrown from a vehicle, according to a witness.

metro mobility bus

Charges: Man led police on multi-city pursuit in stolen Metro Mobility bus

The bus had been left unattended with the keys inside when it was stolen.

Bell Ramsey Co. Jan 22 - crop

Charges: Man fatally shot mother of his child during argument

Officers found her on the ground outside the couple's home.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, January 26

More than 15,000 new cases in today's update.


5 must-hear Christmas rap projects for 2016

Chance the Rapper and Jeremih just surprised us with holiday cheer, as did some other MCs.

The List: Dr. Dre fires off new song, 'Gunfiyah'

Dr. Dre dropped a new track to tie-in with the new documentary series The Defiant Ones.

Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill turns 30: What you DIDN'T hear!

From sampling fears to drug use, here's what you DIDN'T hear from the Beastie Boys' debut.

What's the hottest song to play this spring? Go 95.3 DJs weigh in

Spring is here, and our Go 95.3 DJs want to help you melt the winter leftovers.

Listen: Swizz Beats and Alicia Keys' 6-year-old son's 'Superboy' song

Egypt has quite the musical pedigree, and we're seeing it come to life in his first original song.

Soundset 2017 was a wild hip-hop ride: 5 takeaways

There were some incredible moments despite some issues with the 10th annual Soundset

The List: Beyoncé's twins have arrived

Beyoncé had her twins. Come look, what are you waiting for?