1) Token


Token, a.k.a., the next Eminem. At only 17, this high schooler from Massachusetts is rawer than most professional rappers out there today. His mixtape Eraser Shavings tackles depression, the idea of success, and pure honest #bars. The sound isn’t anything we haven’t heard  before (it’s very Eminem), but his affinity for double-timing verses is unlike anyone in the game right now. His BET verse might have been on the online-only cypher, but it was arguably the best verse out of everyone that night. I don’t know what’s next for Token, but if that BET verse and his mixtape prove anything, it’s that he’s definitely got what it takes to be one of the best one day.

2) 3D Na’Tee

3dnateeHailing from New Orleans, LA, 3D Na’Tee’s recording studio was dismantled by Hurricane Katrina, putting a hold on her recording career. Releasing The Regime, shortly before her stellar but short BET verse, the 23-track project showcases her aggressive flows and insult-humor-styled wordplay. Appearing on Sway and gaining attention from Missy Elliot and Kendrick Lamar, hopefully we’ll be seeing more of 3D at the end of this year/the next. Nicki might have crowned herself the queen of rap, but  given the opportunity her and 3D Na’Tee could honestly go toe-to-toe.

3) Dave East

dave-east-kairi-chanelNot only was Harlem rapper Dave East one of the artists that I even thought actually deserved to be part of XXL’s 2016 Freshman Class, but he’s been making waves, getting signed to Mass Appeal, headed by Nas, and releasing his album Kairi Chanel featuring names like Cam’ron, Beanie Sigel, and The Game. I wasn’t too big of a fan of Kairi Chanel, feeling like over an hour of the same kind of song, but I can admit that I think Dave East has what it takes to be a big talent someday, especially now with Nas backing him.

4) Young M.A

young-maBrooklyn stand up for the first openly gay female rapper. Her hit “Ooouuu” wasn’t just huge for being the remix platform of The Game and Meek Mill’s beef, but a big hit performance at the BET awards as well as her cypher with Dave East and more. Snubbed for an XXL 2016 Freshman Class spot for artists like the unintelligible 21 Savage or the now in jail Kodak Black, hopefully Young M.A can follow up “Ooouuu” in a big way, possibly with some profitable guest features to launch her career.

5) Jidenna

jidennaSigned to Janelle Monáe’s Wondaland Records, Jidenna pretty much already has the spotlight on him from “Classic Man,” “Yoga,” and “Long Live the Chief,” which was just performed on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and Netflix’s Marvel’s Luke Cage. An amazing single and closing BET cypher verse, the song will probably be featured on his long awaited debut album of the same name, with no release date other than “Fall 2016” (running out of time!). I’m very excited for what he call put together. I think Jidenna has everything going for him if he plays his cards right, and I really think he has so far.