MUSIC

Female Rappers Lead the 2019 Freshman Class

XXL Magazine finally dropped their freshman cyphers, and Megan Thee Stallion, Rico Nasty, and Tierra Whack are carrying the 2019 freshman class on their backs.

For a solid decade, Nicki Minaj was the only female rapper to maintain mainstream success.

When Cardi B came stomping onto the scene in her "bloody shoes," Barbz were fighting to keep Nicki's throne. Now, a few years later, female rappers are on the rise—proving there's plenty of room at the top.

XXL Magazine finally dropped their freshman cyphers, and Megan Thee Stallion, Rico Nasty, and Tierra Whack are carrying the 2019 freshman class on their backs. Unsurprisingly, none of the women were paired together. If they had been, the rest of the freshman class would have no real competition. Each rapper had their own particular style and flow that, as Tierra Whack phrased it, came "for necks."

Megan Thee Stallion is particularly having a bomb "hot girl summer," creating a movement after dropping one of the most stirring projects of 2019, Fever. The Houston rapper has been on the rise, grounding her lyricism in epic and mega-hit freestyles. Hot Girl Meg is legit.

DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, YK Osiris and Lil Mosey's 2019 XXL Freshman Cypher www.youtube.com

Meanwhile, Rico Nasty may fit into the category of a freshman rapper, but she has already released six mix tapes. At 21, she showed a different side of herself on the 2019 cypher. Deft, exhilarating, and biting, Rico Nasty enchanted viewers both familiar and unfamiliar with her work. She bodied the beat, spitting bar after bar.

Blueface, YBN Cordae and Rico Nasty's 2019 XXL Freshman Cypher www.youtube.com

Featured on Beyoncé's The Gift, Tierra Whack brought her imagination to "MY POWER" with her controlled and bewitching delivery. The rapper, who Remy Ma cosigned, got real with fans, rapping, "I used to wanna be lighter, but I still shine being dark." Finally, a dark-skin female rapper is making a name for herself without conforming to the pop-rap precedent set by Nicki and Cardi— the rap game will hopefully never be the same.

Roddy Ricch, Comethazine and Tierra Whack's 2019 XXL Freshman Cypher www.youtube.com

Brothers Mark Wahlberg, Paul Wahlberg and Donnie Wahlberg.

A&E/Wahlburgers

Donnie Wahlberg

Chef Paul Wahlberg always knows when his brother, Donnie Wahlberg, is in town. How? A mass of fans will turn up to their Wahlburgers restaurant chain, signaling that the New Kids on the Block singer is on his way!

"I know Donnie's coming because the Blockheads come beforehand," Paul tells us. "The message gets out there, everyone comes and that unity is amazing."

Donnie and Paul teamed up with actor brother Mark Wahlberg to launch their first Wahlburgers in Massachusetts in 2011, and the business, now global, was also the focus of reality TV series, Wahlburgers.

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MUSIC

YBN Cordae's "The Lost Boy" Is an Instant Classic

The 2019 XXL Magazine Freshman Class honoree's debut album demonstrates why he deserves our respect.

XXL

If you've never heard of YBN Cordae before, that is bound to change in the days and years to come.

So long as he keeps making music with the same level of passion and skill that he demonstrated on his debut album, The Lost Boy, his name won't be forgotten. On every track of his record, the 21-year-old emcee approaches the mic with the confidence, command, and charisma of a veteran rapper. In fact, at times his flow is reminiscent of fellow North Carolina native (and collaborator on the album), J. Cole—an impressive feat given the fact that it took even Cole a couple of albums to truly find his voice, whereas Cordae seems to have already honed his prior to his first official release.

Of the 15 tracks on The Lost Boy, not a singe one of them is a throwaway. From the album's opener, "Wintertime"—a retrospective look at how Cordae overcame hardships like depression, addiction, and poverty—to the full-circle outro, "Lost & Found," where Cordae reflects briefly on how he was once lost but has since found himself. Cordae begins the album looking over his shoulder and ends it by living in the moment as he stands on the precipice of a very promising music career.

Other highlights along the way include the Anderson .Paak-assisted and J. Cole-produced, "RNP," which sees .Paak and Cordae exchange kid-n-play bars back and forth, conversing and pushing each other's rhymes further with each line. There's a certain alchemy between the two on this song that hasn't been heard since the heydays of Dr. Dre and Eminem, or Q-Tip and Phife Dawg on early Tribe records. It's as fun as it is enjoyable.

In fact, every one of the features on The Lost Boy is handled well. Cordae hasn't simply featured artists here for clout or merely for the sake of collaborating; every song that has a guest feels as if it truly called for the artist in question. Whether it's Pusha T going hard on the haunting "Nightmares Are Real," Ty Dolla $ign blending perfectly into the melodic, homecoming anthem, "Way Back Home," or Chance The Rapper lending some characteristic sunshine to the feel-good gospel chords of "Bad Idea," Cordae (and his collaborators) reminds listeners of the fact that a great artist works in service of the song before all else.

The Lost Boy is one of the most substantial debut albums to drop in quite some time. Front to back, this record is full of gems that are sure to stay in rotation for years to come. This is what an excellent rap album sounds like. And YBN Cordae is just getting started.

The Lost Boy