It's official: South Florida has taken over the rap game.
For the third consecutive year, the exploding hip-hop scene in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties has made a showing on hip-hop magazine XXL's Freshman List, a collection of young talent the editors believe will be the next big thing. Last year, the only Floridian on the list was XXXTentacion, a controversial pick for reasons New Times detailed in a recent cover story about the Broward rapper.
This year, however, South Florida has secured an unprecedented four slots on the list: Lil Pump, Ski Mask the Slump God, Wifisfuneral, and Smokepurpp. It's a new record for the area and proof that the blown-out, punkish, nihilistic style these rappers have pioneered on SoundCloud has taken the nation by storm.
XXL will continue to release Freshman List content throughout June, including the all-important ciphers, where the freshmen go head-to-head in a freestyle rap contest. In case you don't know any of these names, here's a brief introduction to each of the rappers.
Real Name: Gazzy Garcia
Hometown: Miami Gardens
Latest Project: Lil Pump (2017)
If you're one of those old, boring types who thinks "Gucci Gang" signaled the decline of Western civilization, first of all, fuck Western civilization, and second, don't bother reading any further. Lil Pump, also known as Sir Pumpington III, PhD, Esq., winner of New Times' 2018 award for Best Meme, is the first picture you see when you google "SoundCloud rapper." He epitomizes the image of the scene — colorful dreads, wild clothing, wilder social media antics — but he backs it up with ever-improving skills and an excellent stage persona. When Pump performs, he generates an electric shock of energy and joy. It's true that his music reflects the mindless obsession with wealth, status, sex, and drugs that infests our society, but in Miami, we're all about that shit, so Pump's our boy. We're proud of you, guy. ESSKEETIT!!!
Ski Mask the Slump God
Real Name: Stokely Clevon Golbourne
Latest Project: Beware the Book of Eli (2018)
He raps faster than Usain Bolt runs. He drops cartoon and anime references like he's dumping candy on the floor after a Halloween haul. He plays Fortnite in his spare time. Frankly, Ski Mask the Slump God might be the most talented young rapper in America. In fact, New Times named him Best SoundCloud Rapper in this year's Best of Miami issue. If there's any rapper in America who was a shoo-in for this list, it's this kid, and many were surprised when XXL chose his on-off friend XXXTentacion instead of him for last year's list. The relationship between the two has been tumultuous; Ski distanced himself from X late last year, but the two reunited onstage during Ski's set at Rolling Loud 2018.
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Real Name: Isaiah Rivera
Hometown: West Palm Beach
Latest Project: Ethernet (2018)
Although just as talented as the others, Wifisfuneral could be considered the odd man out of this group. It's not simply that he hails from West Palm Beach; the subject matter he tackles in his mixtapes — Black Heart Revenge, When Hell Falls, and the recently released Ethernet — is much darker than the candy-coated material of his peers. Over woozy, cloudy beats on Ethernet, Wifi draws on the tragedies of his young life, from friends dying to his own overdoses and depression. He also finds the term "SoundCloud rapper" disrespectful and loves the Notorious B.I.G. Sadness is necessary
Real Name: Omar Pineiro
Latest Project: Bless Yo Trap (2018)
It would not be a stretch to say that without Smokepurpp, there would be no Lil Pump. Purpp and Pump have been thick as thieves since they met in grade school, and the two were even expelled the same day. When Purrp began to pursue music, he asked young Pump to freestyle over a track he produced, which became his self-titled debut single, "Lil Pump." Purrp is an accomplished rapper in his own right, of course; he's put out projects such as Darkstar and the Murda Beatz collab mixtape Bless Yo Trap. He has also claimed to have "birthed this generation" of rappers, which 2016 XXL freshman Denzel Curry, who actually did that, rightly called him out on. Gotta respect your elders, even if they're only two classes ahead of you.
The rest of XXL's list includes BlocBoy JB, the Memphis MC responsible for the Drake-assisted viral hit "Look Alive"; Stefflon Don, the only woman and the only Brit on the list; and Bhad Bhabie's favorite rapper, Trippie Redd.