It’s always exciting or disturbing when it comes to XXL’s annual freshman issue. Displaying the best of hip-hop’s up-and-coming artist, the mag can sometimes fall short with “balance.” When I say balance, I mean diversity. Many of the artist that are chosen often represent the “new wave.” And while this gives way to rappers that exemplify whatever is the new sound, sometimes it leaves certain communities out. What I love about the 2017 class is that it is a full, diverse set of folks that not only represent what is mainstream, but what is current in the diaspora of American Hip-Hop. Considering it’s the 10th anniversary of “The Freshman Class,” XXL did a great job choosing this year’s contenders. While folks like MadeInTYO, Playboi Carti and Ugly God are present party pumpers with their popular tracks, artists like Amine, A Boogie wit Da Hoodie, PnB Rock and Kyle have maintained a strong following through their consistent visibility. Then there are people like Kamayah, Kap G and XXXtenacion who have massive hits but just haven’t reached the fullness of the limelight yet. With such a spectrum of rappers that are not only releasing music of different kinds, but on different levels, gives exposure to the sub-genres of rap that are often lost to the underground. If your looking for groove-inducing ad-libby anthems A Boogie wit Da Hoodie’s “Timeless,” and Playboi Carti’s “Magnolia” give you just that. Looking for that southern flare? Kap G along with Ugly God got it “down pat”. Maybe something different? A new twist? XXXtenacion’s “Revenge” does might do; or maybe Amine’s “Turf” will give you the mellow vibe you’re looking for. Either way, this freshman class has you covered. THIS IS SNEAKVIBING APPROVED.