Hate it or love it, the 2016 XXL Freshman Class has long-been considered one of the most popular classes in the franchises history. While hip-hop has always been about community, there’s an undercurrent of competition between rappers fighting to be seen as the best. That core tenet of the genre isn’t that far removed from the idea behind XXL‘s yearly Freshman list, where the most talented and relevant acts of the time come together to be featured on the cover of the magazine. The 2016 cover is one that has gone down in history as the most beloved one due to the long-term success of many of the artists on it.
On Nov. 5, 21 Savage claimed that he would be able to take on any of his fellow 2016 XXL Freshman classmates in a Verzuz hits battle, even Lil Uzi Vert, and come out victorious. “That Freshman cover, nobody can beat me, nobody,” 21 said to a packed room on the Clubhouse app. A look at the Billboard 100 chart and the numbers is the only way to be sure. Once Kodak Black and Desiigner caught wind of 21’s comments, they laughed it off.
Kodak called “cap” and said “I admire your confidence, though.” He added, “That’s how you should feel. But I’ma always put myself first over any nigga, any day, too.” Desiigner questioned why 21 was talking like that. “21, [I] went platinum 20 times,” Desiigner shared. “I’m just chilling right now. I ain’t even dropping right now. I quit rap for a minute. Stop playing,” he added with a laugh.
That year, the 2016 XXL Freshman cover featured 21 Savage, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, Kodak Black, Anderson .Paak, Lil Dicky, Dave East, Desiigner, Denzel Curry and G Herbo. XXL did the research, listing the Billboard Hot 100 appearances for each of the 10 artists. All the songs from these rappers may be used in a hypothetical Verzuz face-off one day. As lead artists, features, top 10 hits, No. 1s and total Billboard Hot 100 songs, it’s all here.
While many of these Freshmen have racked up plenty of chart placements, what constitutes a hit? If it’s a top 10 or a No. 1 on the chart, it’s a hit. Take a look at the 2016 XXL Freshman Class ranked by Billboard Hot 100 hits below.