Every year since 2008, XXL Magazine has released a “Freshmen Class” issue, which consists of new rappers who have the potential to be breakout artists. These MCs have created a buzz for themselves via the internet, social media or by simply staying consistent and dropping mixtapes left and right.
But where are they now? It’s one thing to predict the future, but almost four years later whose career has panned out? TheUrbandaily takes a look back at XXL’s Freshmen Class of 2008 “Leaders Of The New School” to see who graduated, who dropped out and who might have failed.
Name: Lil’ Boosie
From: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Releases: Bad Azz (2006), Superbad: The Return of Boosie Bad Azz (2009) Incarcerated (2010)
Lil Boosie had a great start. His unique flow and voice had gained him enough attention to possibly be the next hottest rap artist coming out of the south. The first and only single off Bad Azz, “Zoom,” featured Yung Joc and helped Boosie grab the attention of hip hop fans. However, there was one small problem with Lil’ Boosie, he lived the troublesome life he rapped about. In 2010 he was sent to prison for violation of his probation. He did release his Incarcerated album from behind bars, but as you know jail can make or break a rap artist.
Name: Gorilla Zoe
From: Atlanta, GA
Releases: Welcome To The Zoo (2007) Don’t Feed The Animals (2009), King Kong (2011).
Since the 2008 Freshman cover, Gorilla Zoe dropped his sophomore album Don’t Feed The Animals which hit #8 on the Billboard 200. In February of 2010 he dropped an entire mixtape for every day of the month. He is still signed with Bad Boy South and released his third album King Kong in July.
From: Fort Myers, FL
Releases: The Real Testament (2007) Definition of Real(2008), Da REAList (2008), Goon Affiliated (2010).
Talk about blowing up straight out of the gate. Plies had great success with his debut album The Real Testament in 2007. Plies released not one but two albums in 2008, Definition Of Real & Tha REAList. Although Plies has started to cool off, his fans are still humming along to his hit “Bust It Baby Pt 2.” It’s sample of Janet Jackson’s “Come Back To Me” makes it a quiet storm staple for sensitive thugs everywhere.
Name: Crooked I
From: Long Beach, California
Releases: Hood Star, Block Obama II EP, Mr. Pigface Weapon Waist EP, Planet C.O.B. Vol. 1 EP, Planet C.O.B. Vol. 2, Million Dollar Story EP.
Crooked I had seen his fair share of setbacks before appearing on the cover. From Virgin Records to Death Row and now with Shady as a member of SlaughterHouse. He formed super group Slaughterhouse with classmate Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden and Royce Da 5’9. Since appearing on the cover in 2008 Crooked I has taken his grind into over time. He is CEO of his own record labels, Dynasty Entertainment and C.O.B. Digital as well as Senior Vice President of Treacherous Records. In 2020 he released the album Hood Star which is a compilation of unreleased music while at Death Row.
Name: Rich Boy
From: Mobile, Alabama
Releases: (mixtapes) Bigger Than The Mayor (2008) Kool-Aid, Kush & Convertibles (2009) 12 Diamonds (2011)
It’s hard to you go wrong when Polow The Don and Keri Hilson are members of your camp. However, Rich Boy has not been able to top the charts since releasing “Throw Some Ds.” He released a few mixtapes since and plans to release his second album Ressurected In Diamonds soon.
From: Brooklyn, NY
Releases: All In A Days Work, Warning Shots
You would think with a co-sign from Jay-Z, Kanye West and Kool G Rap he would have stepped into the rap game with no problems. Nevertheless, Saigon publicly battled Atlantic Records over the release of The Greatest Story Ever Told. While in label limbo he released two mixtapes Warning Shots and All In A Days Work. After years of fighting to be released from Atlantic with the material, Saigon finally got what he asked for and with the help of Just Blaze and MTV’s Sway he finally released The Greatest Story Ever Told in 2011.
Name: Lupe Fiasco
From: Chicago, IL
Releases: Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor (2006) Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool (2007) Lasers (2011)
Before appearing on the cover, Lupe released his debut The Cool which is certified gold. He later publicly battled Atlantic Records to release the Lasers album which caused fans to sign petitions and protest outside of the Atlantic records office. As a result, Lasers was finally released in March of 2011. The album debuted on the Billboard 200 at #1 with 204,200 copies sold, the highest of Lupe’s career. He is currently working on the followup Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album.
Name: Young Dro
From: Atlanta, GA
Releases: Mixtapes- I Co-Sign Myself (Hosted by Himself as DJ Dro), Drocabulary (Hosted by DJ Smallz).
Young Dro has not released an album since appearing on the cover but he has been keeping busy. He has plans to release his P.O.L.O album soon along with a joint mixtape with Vado. He has not released any chart topping hits since appearing on the cover. But being signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle we’re sure Young Dro will be coming back better than ever.
Name: Joell Ortiz
From: Brooklyn, NY
Releases: The Brick: Bodega Chronicles (2007)Free Agent(2011),
When Joell Ortiz appeared on the cover he was signed to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label, but shortly after he asked to be released from his contract. He and classmate Crooked I formed the group Slaughterhouse with Joe Budden and Royce Da 5’9 in 2009. The group released a self-titled album the same year. Joell dropped Free Agent on E1 formerly known as Koch and then landed a solo deal with SRC in 2010. Slaughterhouse announced their deal with Shady Records in February of this year.
From: Brooklyn, NY
Releases: (mixtapes) Build or Destroy, 21 Gun Salute, Military Grind, Papoose Season, The 2nd Coming, King Of New York
The Brooklyn MC left Jive Records and has yet to drop his debut album. He has dropped several mixtapes since the cover and is still riding with DJ Kay Slay. Papoose married female MC Remy Ma in jail in 2008 and has plans to release a joint project with her soon.