Revisiting The Inaugural XXL Freshmen Class of 2007: Their Success & Where Are They Now
The annual XXL Freshmen list and accompanying magazine cover has become a staple in Hip-Hop; something of lure. It’s all about the list, but those names are eagerly awaited on every year. While being on the list doesn’t guarantee anything, but a bit of extra buzz, some hype around your next project and a concert alongside the other freshmen, it does offer some extra validation from the “Hip-Hop on a Higher Level”.
Since 2007 the XXL Freshmen list is something to talk about, something to debate, something to over analyze—for at least a couple weeks, but careers have to play out before anyone can truly determine if the artists were deserving of the “accolade”. We decided to go back and look at some of the Freshman classes of the past to take a second look at just how successful those artists were and where those artists are now.
Here’s A Look At The Class From The First XXL Freshmen Cover – The Leaders of the New School
Although plagued by numerous setbacks and delays, Saigon, née Brian Daniel Carenard’s, then highly anticipated debut solo LP, The Greatest Story Never Told, finally arrived back on February 15th 2011. Largely produced by Just Blaze, with additional beats courtesy of Buckwild, Scram Jones and Kanye West, as well as high profile features from Black Thought, Bun B, Faith Evans, Jay-Z and Q-Tip, among others, TGSNT entered onto the Billboard 200 at number 61 selling 11,000 copies. Two additional solo album entries would come in later years, part 2 and 3 of his Greatest Story Never Told Series, but the first album would be his most successful.
Saigon would go on to make appearances on HBO’s ‘Entourage’ series and the 4th season of ‘Love & Hip Hop: New York’ – all in a 5 plus year time span.
Where are they now?
The Spring Valley, New York, emcee seems to be laying low as of late. Aside from forming his very own boutique imprint, Squid Ink Squad Records, in ’14, there has yet to be an official announcement pertaining to what should become his upcoming still untitled fourth studio effort.
Plies dropped 4 albums in 4 years starting with his 2007 debut album, The Real Testament.
Where Are They Now?
Despite not dropping a proper solo project since June 2010, Big Gates Records founder Algernod “Plies” Washington, who hails from Fort Myers, Florida, has had a career resurgence of sorts lately due to his staggering popularity on the social media network, Instagram. Displaying his crazy personality, and at times crazier antics – one must witness his weekly ‘Sweet Pwussy Satday’ series for proof – on the trendy internet platform has definitely elevated his “star” power as further evidenced by the amount of followers [4 million] he has amassed in a relatively short time frame.
However, all is not quiet on the musical front either, and as Plies works feverishly on his eagerly awaited next solo outing, Purple Heart. He has a mixtape, Ain’t No Mixtape Bih 2, out now driven by its lead offering “Ritz Carlton,” which has also spawned the brand new dance craze that Plies has appropriately dubbed ‘Ran Off Da Plug Twice.’
Mobile, Alabama’s Rich Boy – born Maurice Richards – is most famously known for his mega-popular smash hit single “Throw Some D’s,” and it’s even more impressive Lil’ Jon laced remix, which sports appearances from André 3000, Jim Jones, Nelly, Murphy Lee, and The Game. but ever since his self-titled Zone 4/Interscope debut, which also spawned two additional chart toppers; “Boy Looka Here” and “Good Things,” was unveiled way back on March 13th 2007. He released follow-up independent releases in 2013 and 2015 but he has never matched the hype of his first single.
Where Are They Now?
Maybe unbeknownst to some the now 32 year old rapper has continually been on his “music” grind. Fast forward nine-plus years since his debut and Rich Boy, who has remained active on the mixtape circuit, is working on a still untitled new release slated to be released soon.
At one point Lupe had a legitimate chance at being one of the top five emcees in the game. Album delays and some questionable decisions decreased the hype and the music seemed to never reach the height of his 2006 debut album, Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor and the follow-up, Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool released just nine months later.
Where Are They Now?Last year saw the release of his fifth studio set Tetsuo & Youth, the follow-up to his Grammy nominated Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1  which garnered mostly positive reviews from fans and critics alike… and now Lupe Fiasco is returning yet again with not one but three purported albums in the works. The chief executive officer of 1st & 15th Entertainment, who cites in no particular order, Nas, Jay-Z, Common, AZ, De La Soul, N.W.A., Mos Def, Pharrell Williams, A Tribe Called Quest and Gang Starr as his biggest musical influences, recently unveiled that he would be releasing a new album titled Drogas Light, the first of the trilogy series, which also includes Skulls and Roy. In addition, the “Superstar” lyricist runs two clothing lines, Righteous Kung-Fu and Trilly & Truly. He has also designed sneakers for Reebok, as well as having previously been involved with charitable activities; including the Summit on the Summit expedition. It has also recently been reported, amidst rumors of a subsequent retirement plan, that the Chi-Town wordsmith’s last hurrah, so to speak, will be a sequel; The Cool 2.
Boosie Badazz, formerly Lil Boosie
Boosie jumped on the scene in 2001 via the Pimp C created Trill Entertainment. By 2007 he and Webbie, the label’s main acts had begun to really make noise. In 2006 he released his major label debut, Badazz and the follow-up in 2009, Superbad: The Return of Boosie Bad Azz became what is still his best performing album yet.
After pleading guilty to drug charges, Torrence Hatch, p.k.a. Boosie Badazz, was sentenced to eight years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. After spending 2009-14 behind bars, the artist formerly known as Lil Boosie finally emerged a free man on March 5th 2014. He released an album, Incarcerated, while in prison, but with no real promo, it went under the radar.
Where Are They Now?
His star studded long time coming / “comeback” collection Touch Down 2 Cause Hell [Trill Entertainment/Bad Azz/Atlantic Records] was released in May of last year. The native Baton Rouge, Louisiana, father of seven, who recently revealed he has been suffering with diabetes, is presently focused on a slew of forthcoming projects; another solo album, a joint effort, Penitentiary Chances, with another incarcerated rap artist, C-Murder, as well as his respective Bad Azz Entertainment and Bad Azz Music Syndicate rosters. Lastly, after being diagnosed with kidney cancer in November ’15, and eventually undergoing surgery to remove said tumor, thankfully Boosie’s cancer is now in remission.