Stark, acapella, and to the point, the freestyles that XXL produce in conjunction with their annual Freshmen class series stand out in contrast to the list itself, which takes numerous factors into consideration in order to determine the hottest up-and-comers in the game. It's been clear for a few years that being the best pure rapper isn't the only way you can make it there. Maybe you're not the best lyricist in the game but you've got a new sound and a cult following. Maybe you're a street rapper who never freestyles. Maybe you're a singer! This is all fair game when it comes to landing on the cover itself, but when it's time for the Freshman freestyles, that all goes out of the window. 

Taking anywhere from 30 seconds to over two minutes, each Freshman gets up close and personal with the camera and delivers a 32, or a 16, or maybe even what just sounds like a hook. It's one of the few places in the current culture of perfectly-curated Soundcloud page and Snapchat stories that we get a completely bare-bones look at artists' abilities, free from alteration by auto-tune and distraction by way of impressive production. Especially since the magazine started taking singers and non-freestylers into serious consideration, there's quite an obvious range of skill level in each year's crop of freestyles, but the diversity can also produce some stunners-- stuff you typically wouldn't hear in a serious cypher but adapts artists' new styles into the form of acapella delivery. 

Today, we're ranking the freestyles by this year's ten XXL Freshman from worst to best. Points are given not only for lyrical dexterity, but also for originality, and they're subtracted for the use of bars that have appeared in already-released tracks.