Grading the 2019 XXL Freshmen Cyphers

Following the XXL Freshman Cyphers, we review each rapper's performance

Following yesterday’s conclusion of the 2019 XXL Freshman Class Cyphers, we decided to review, grade, and rank each of the rapper’s performances.

Lil Mosey: F

I wasn’t heavily acquainted with Lil Mosey’s music before this cypher, and thankfully, it sounds like I haven’t been missing out on too much. This was an absolutely AWFUL way for XXL to start the Freshmen cyphers. There was literally nothing redeeming about this performance, from his general lack of energy and enthusiasm, to his lackluster bars, which were astonishingly bad — the most “impressive” bar was “Godamn, I feel like the man / Freshman of the Year, I woke up like the man” (Yeah, it was really, really bad.) I guess his mink coat was cool.

Megan Thee Stallion: B+

As one of the highly touted names on this list, and as one of my favorites over the past year, I fully expected Megan Thee Stallion to body her verse, and she did not disappoint. She went with a rapid fire flow, fitting a full 16 in just 27 seconds and delivering trademark quotables (“Your nigga in my DMs and he writing love letters“). The brief runtime of the verse is actually my only real complaint about her cypher; I would’ve liked to see her get the same amount of time DaBaby did. I don’t know if XXL put a time limit on her, or if she just opted for a shorter freestyle, but either way, she made the most of the moment, delivering the first solid verse of the 2019 XXL Freshman Cyphers.

YK Osiris: D-

It’s hard to judge YK Osiris’s verse from a purely rap standpoint, because…he wasn’t really rapping here. Most of his verse was more like “melodic” crooning — and I have “melodic” in quotes because the term implies that it was musically satisfying, which his singing wasn’t. He’s a fairly confident singer for someone whose voice is not very good; I suppose this confidence is what helps sell his performance and keeps his grade above Lil Mosey. But yeah, it wasn’t very good.

DaBaby: A

YK and Megan’s facial expressions and dancing in the background tells you all you need to know about DaBaby’s verse. He absolutely stole the show in the first round of cyphers with what I consider an excellent performance. His precense on the mic was engaging as hell, he was flowing his ass off, and his verse was a dope combination of braggadocio and storytelling. Most people have him in the upper echelon of this Freshman class, and I knew he would bring the heat during the cypher, but I didn’t expect go off the way he did.

Rico Nasty: B

As one of my favorites from this group of freshmen, I was excited to see how she would perform, and overall I’d say she did pretty well. She definitely was rapping faster than she typically does, and that did catch up to her a bit as she ended up slurring some of her words together at different points in order to keep up with the beat. But other than that, there wasn’t a whole lot about her performance to complain about. She was engaging and was rhyming better than most of rappers in this freshman class.

YBN Cordae: A-

Out of this entire bunch, YBN Cordae is probably the most classical rapper. This was evident in this freestyle, which was a about a minute of dope rhymes and punchlines. He isn’t quite as “distinctive” or “unique” as some of the other voices in this class, but gotdamn is he good at rapping. I’m looking forward to hopefully hearing this level of rapping on his debut album, which dropped last night.

Blueface: C-

I’m not a big fan of Blueface and his off-beat rap style, although my respect for what he does has improved little by little over the course of the past few months. Still, I wasn’t expecting much from his freestyle, and I didn’t get much either. He was “on-beat,” or at least as on-beat as we’ve probably ever heard him. His bars weren’t overly impressive, although I thought a few of them were slightly humorous like the Kim Possible-Rufus line. He certainly was not the worst of the group, which I suppose is a win in and of itself.

Comethazine: C

Considering that Comethazine’s music up to this point has been, at least in my opinion, unmemorable and generic as hell, I was actually surprised by how I felt about his verse. His performance was, to my own amazement, not that bad at all. Don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t great, but considering that he was energetic, relatively engaging, and the fact that I dug a few of the bars, I came away with a little more respect for him than I began with.

Roddy Ricch: C

Overall I thought Ricch was okay, and he was definitely flowing, particularly at the beginning of his verse. But my main gripe with his freestyle is that it was kind of…forgettable; after watching this the first time, I couldn’t remember a single thing that Ricch had said. None of the lines really caught my ear, or made me react overly positively or negatively. It was simply a middle-of-the-road performance.

Tierra Whack: A+

Going into these cyphers, Philadelphia rapper Tierra Whack was head-and-shoulders above everyone else, in terms of pure rapping ability — we knew that just based off of her amazing Instagram freestyles. So it was absolutely no surprise that, after the DJ cut the beat off, she absolutely SPAZZED. I made the stank face basically throughout the entire verse — there are just so many great/funny metaphors and punchlines (“You ride in UberPools, hot but I’m super cool / Make hits, Mayweather on you April Fools“). Her freestyle, in juxtaposition to Comethazine and Roddy Ricch, shows that there is an enormous divide between where she resides and where the New Wave trapsters are at. She’s simply on another level entirely.

Final Impressions:

Overall I enjoyed this years XXL Freshman class more than I have any other class in a while. There were only really one or two verses that I was thoroughly unimpressed with; everyone else displayed brilliance in either short flashes or in boatloads. The artists that I was rooting for ended up delivering solid verses, and I also came away with a slightly better impression of a few rappers that I either disliked or purposely wasn’t paying attention to. It will be interesting to see how many of these artists, especially DaBaby, Rico Nasty, Megan Thee Stallion, Cordae, and Tierra Whack, capitalize on this spotlight, as well as where each of them will be three to five years from now.

XXL 2019 Freshman Class Cypher Report Card

  1. Tierra Whack: A+
  2. DaBaby: A
  3. YBN Cordae: A-
  4. Megan Thee Stallion: B+
  5. Rico Nasty: B
  6. Comethazine: C
  7. Roddy Ricch: C
  8. Blueface: C-
  9. YK Osiris: D-
  10. Lil Mosey: F

How would you rank the 2019 XXL Freshman Class cyphers? Which artists impressed you the most?

1 comment on “Grading the 2019 XXL Freshmen Cyphers

  1. I agree with most of your placements here, but Tierra’s grade should be a lot worse. I love her regular music, but the beat cutoff kind of ruined her verse (and the vibe of the cypher), and it feels really stupid for her to treat the cypher like a freestyle when she didn’t do a freestyle in the first place.


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