Revisiting The ’09 XXL Freshmen 10 – Their Success & Where Are They Now?

Technically 2009 marked the first official Freshmen 10 XXL Magazine class.  The publication took most of 2008 off and returned in November 2008 with with a perfected concept and arguably the best list they’ve ever assembled.  Dubbed the 2009 XXL Freshmen 10, the list included Wale, Kid Cudi, B.o.B, Charles Hamilton, Asher Roth and several of the biggest names in Hip-hop at the time.

Like we did with the 2007 XXL Freshman, once again we revisit the 2009 XXL Freshmen 10.  Here’s a second look at just how successful those artists were and where those artists are now.

We have also since revisted the XXL Freshmen Classes of 2009, 201020112012 & 2013.


Blu

The XXL cover introduced Blu to the mainstream. The California bred emcee, who represented the only artist from the West Coast on the cover had actually been active as an underground artist since 2003. His debut project, Below The Heavens was a joint effort with producer, Exile. The success of the project led to spotlights on several Hip-Hop sites and the XXL feature helped him get a deal with Warner Bros. Records.  That was probably the height of his mainstream success however.
Blu has released several projects, mostly free albums or mixtures since ’09, including another collaboration project with Exile, a project with Madlib, and an EP with Nottz.  None of those projects have lived up to the expectations. And none of his albums were ever released through Warner Bros. Still, it should be noted that Blu is beloved by his underground fans.

Where Are They Now?
In January, Blu took to Twitter to air out Evidence and Alchemist.  He’s since moved back to the headlines for his music. His latest project is Titans In the Flesh a collaboration with Nottz. If you let twitter tell it, the EP is packed with hits.  Blu remains consistent with releases and has a captive audience… on the underground.



Cory Gunz

Cory is a story all his own.  The Bronx representative and son of Peter Gunz was born into Hip-Hop.  By the time XXL gave him the the Freshmen 10 honor he had already been signed to multiple deals with several mixtapes. Listeners knew he could rap, but he suffered from the same issues a Jae Millz or a Papoose had to deal with—great lyricists but could they make an album.
Cory would get signed to Young Money/Cash Money the year after the XXL cover and was featured on the second, less impressive Young Money album, Rise of an Empire.  Later he would be features on the Rich Gang album. His verse on “6 foot 7 foot” by Lil Wayne also helped propel the track as the lead single for Tha Carter IV.
His MTV reality show “Son of A Gun” was short lived but it did nothing to help with the music.


Where Are They Now?

He must be writing for someone because he is still signed to YMCMB (as is Jae Millz… quite a head scratcher for both of them). He was featured on Lil Wayne’s Free Weezy project last year and his own last mixtape, Datz WTF I’m Talkin’ Bout was released in 2013.  His debut album, The Life of Cory Gunz may never see the light of day  especially if he remains with YMCMB, considering the Lil Wayne and Birdman issues.



Mickey Factz

Another Bronx native, Mickey Factz chose Hip-hop over a spot at NYU Law School.  Factz released his first project in 2006. He released several additional mixtapes before he received his Freshmen 10 spot.  He was added to a Honda marketing campaign and was signed by Battery Records, a division of Jive Records following the XXL Freshmen 10 accolade but soon thereafter Jive and Battery merged with Sony, leaving him without a label.


Where Are They Now?

Another artist with a cult following, Mickey has released 15 mixtapes.  His latest Y-3 dropped in September ’15. He toured with Lupe Fiasco and the two have maintained a great relationship since the All City Chess Club days.  His debut album, The Achievement has yet to receive a release date but it’s one of the next things on the schedule according to his website.



Charles Hamilton

Harlem’s own, Charles Hamilton pursued music with an incredible tenacity leading up to his signing with Interscope Records in 2009. Constantly releasing new music, Charles figured the more music he put out the better his chances of success… and it worked. His seven figure deal with Interscope made him a sure mainstay when this XXL cover was released. Videos freestyling with Kanye West and The Game only increased the hype. Pharrell mentions and then inclusion as a member of the All City Chess Club only seemed to solidify his presence in the next generation of music.
Then his single “Brooklyn Girls” was released. A local track wasn’t going to help him win over the national mainstream audience, but it wasn’t a bad look, particularly because they quickly came with a visual. Then came the drama. A beef with Rhymefest, another beef with Soulja Boy. An announcement that he wanted to release his debut album, The Perfect Life for free. He also revealed that J Dilla would be listed as the album’s executive producer, even though Dilla had passed and the two had never worked together.  Shortly thereafter Interscope Records dropped him from the label.
The Perfect Life was leaked but the project never got a proper release.


Where Are They Now?

It was revealed last year that Charles suffered from bipolar disorder and was finally getting the treatment that he needed. It put everything that happened in the past in perspective. He released a new song, “New York Raining” ft. Rita Ora, which was featured on the show Empire. Hamilton was also featured on the show’s deluxe soundtrack for season 2.  He’s currently signed to Universal Republic and his next project Hamilton, Charles is set to be released early 2017. A documentary about his life is set to be released around the same time as the album. In the mean time Charles still releases lots of free music on his blog. You’d be lucky to catch him djing at a local club as well.



Asher Roth

Signed to SRC/Universal Motown Records Asher Roth had a pretty solid debut with his album Asleep In The Bread Aisle. In fact at the time with the buzz of single “I Love College” Asher looked to have the most potential among this class early on. But his second album never surfaced.  He did release a free EP with producer Nottz titled, the Rawth EP, but that didn’t get much attention. Comparisons to Eminem and mixed album reviews didn’t help his cause, but it was really the fall of SRC Records that ended his mainstream run.  That and the fact that he never released a hit comparable to his debut single, just made him forgettable.

Where Are They Now?
The Morrisville, PA native released his sophomore album RetroHash in 2014.  It sold 6,100 copies it’s first week. His upcoming album, tentatively  titled Red  Hot Revival will be released soon. The first single “Laundry” was recently revealed.

CLICK TO GO TO THE NEXT PAGE FOR The Remaining XXL Freshmen 10


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