– Revisiting The XXL 2015 Freshmen –
Their Success & Where Are They Now?
At first look, the XXL 2015 Freshman class may seem a bit disappointing. Most of the artists that made the class have failed to live up to their full potential for one reason or another. This may be the most underwhelming class in terms of breakout stars, but most of the roster is still working and may still surprise the industry with their breakout offering, soon.
DeJ Loaf, Fetty Wap, GoldLink, K Camp, OG Maco, Raury, Shy Glizzy, Tink, Vince Staples and 10th spot winner Kidd Kidd
Let’s start with the 10th spot winner, New Orleans bred rapper Kidd Kidd. He broke out when he was originally signed to Cash Money, appearing on Lil Wayne’s “Mrs. Officer”. The setup was incredible for a novice rapper and he picked up a few features before releasing a banger of his own titled, “Ejected,” which also featured Lil Wayne.
The partnership with Cash Money didn’t work out, but in the best possible case scenario, Kidd Kidd ended up landing a deal with G-Unit! “Ejected” was the featured song for an early episode of ‘Power’ and Kidd Kidd was featured on the G-Unit EPs when the crew reunited in 2014 and 2015. So it made total sense that he would be voted in as the 10th person on this XXL 2015 freshman cover. But even with this acknowledgement, the Lil Wayne co-sign, the 50 Cent and G-Unit co-sign, Kidd Kidd could never break the barriers of mainstream.
Where Are They Now?
That’s a great question. Let his social media tell it, he’s out here working! He released a full project of new music is May of 2020 and has since released a single titled, “Glory”. A new project titled, Street Fame is on the way as well.
The rise and fall of OG Maco was pretty swift. The rapper came in strong in 2014, teaming up with Quality Control Records in its early stages. He released a number of EPs and mixtapes while under the label. His debut single, “U Guessed It” made waves, but it was his biggest single and the only song to make the Billboard Chart.
OG Maco never lived up to the hype and despite signing to Capital Records for major distribution, he never released a debut album.
Where are they now?
He was involved in a major car accident in 2016, which resulted in major injuries. Originally it was thought that he lost his eye, but in fact it was just a severe eye injury, which caused him to sometimes still wear an eye patch.
That was an incredible setback to his career, but it was the battle with a flesh-eating disease known as necrotising fasciitis that truly stalled him. He says he developed the condition after being incorrectly treated for a minor rash. Necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease, is an infection that causes the skin to become red, swollen, blistered, and painful, according to The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy.
In 2020, Maco released a new EP. One of his last solo singles, “Juggin In The Jungle” was released in 2020.
Atlanta, Georgia native Raury may not have been one of the more memorable names from the 2015 XXL Freshman class, but he was well respected among his peers and a talented artist in his own right. His debut mixtape, Indigo Child helped cement his position on the class shortly after he signed with Columbia Records.
Raury’s debut album, All We Need was released in 2015. It wasn’t a commercial success but it kept Raury in the conversation. He had already been featured on a song with Lorde, and was making rounds on the festival scene. He has since gone on tour with Macklemore and been featured on the Jaden Smith album.
Where Are They Now?
Raury released a mixtape in 2018 titled, The Woods, and another in 2019 titled, Fervent. The projects help quench the thirst of his fans, but they haven’t helped him grow his audience much. He’s now an independent artist. After a few months his most recent release only has a few thousand views. Unfortunately, Columbia Records still owns his most successful projects.
Tink was introduced by Timbaland back in 2014 as one of the new stars of Hip-Hop. The following year when she was featured on the XXL Freshman Cover, she was still more of a melodic Hip-Hop artist with a sound similar to early Dej Loaf, rather than an R&B artist. Since then, she has developed into quite the R&B artist, one that still has a flow and can rap when necessary, but is a singer first and foremost.
Tink, the Chicago native, born Trinity Laure’Ale Home, had already released five different mixtapes prior to teaming up with Timbaland, so fans already knew about her talent for singing and the unique versatility she possessed. Her first project, Winter’s Diary was released in 2012. The follow-up projects, Alter Ego, Blunts & Ballads, and Boss Up made a lot of people take notice, including Timbaland. Winter’s Diary 2: Forever Yours was released in early 2014 and then she started cooking up with Timbaland.
Her first official single with Timbaland and Epic Records was “Around The Clock” featuring Charlamagne The God. Next came “Ratchet Commandments”. The song created a buzz, but the song, “Million,” which featured a sample from Aaliyah was the real attention getter. A debut album was in the works… but it never came.
Where Are They Now?
Her 2018 EP, Pain & Pleasure kicked off what feels like the beginning of a next level in her career ever since. The 2019 mixtape Voicemails offered more indication of just how great she can be. Most recently in February 2020 Tink finally delivered her debut album, Hopeless Romantic, long awaited but well worth the wait. A partnership with EMPIRE, the project features the singles “Fuck Around” and “Cut It Out”.
To end 2020 she unveiled a holiday themed EP, titled, A Gift and a Curse. The project only featured 7 songs, but Tink fans will tell you that is more than enough.
more on the 2015 XXL Freshman coming soon.
GoldLink was one of the surprise successes of this group. His 2014 debut mixtape, The God Complex helped him secure the 2015 XXL Freshman cover. He released another critically acclaimed project with support from Hip-Hop Icon, Rick Rubin shortly after the cover and that really helped propel him into the depths of stardom. The project was titled, After That, We Didn’t Talk. It wasn’t until the following year that GoldLink would sign a deal with a major label, RCA Records.
His third mixtape featured a number of big name artists including Wale, Jazmine Sullivan and Mya. Titled, At What Cost, his RCA Records debut featuring the breakout single, “Crew” featuring Brent Faiyaz and fellow freshman Shy Glizzy. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
Where Are They Now?
In 2019 GoldLink released his debut album, Diaspora. Lead by the singles, “Zulu Screams” and “Joke Ting,” the album wasn’t as heralded as his mixtapes, but it continued a trend of positive releases for him. “U Say” featuring Tyler, The Creator and Jay Prince became the biggest release from the project.
His sophomore album, Haram! was released in June 2021 with very little fanfare. The album featured a number of big names and GoldLink continued his mission of releasing music celebrating the Black culture, but very little press surrounded the release and no music videos were unveiled either. The most popular song as of this writing is “White Walls”. The song includes a shot at Sheck Wes, who GoldLink has been trading shots with for a while.