The 2020 XXL Cyphers, Ranked From Worst to Best

This Article Ranks the verses from all three 2020 XXL Cyphers from this year’s freshman class.

XXL fans, most likely due to the pandemic, had to wait a little longer for the announcement of this year’s freshmen class. Fans were surprised, to say the least, about a few questionable snubs and selections.

Stars such as Lil Tecca controversially don’t appear on the list. The fact that the likes of 24k Goldn and Mulatto did make the cut enraged hip-hop heads at first. However, the XXL Cyphers provide an opportunity each year for the artists to showcase their lyricism, energy and creativity. As you will see later in this list, certain unexpected artists capitalized on this opportunity, while others fell far short.

Below is my ranking of the XXL Cyphers from the 2020 Freshman Class.

Official XXL Cypher Rankings

The Ugly Verses from 2020’s XXL Cyphers

11. Lil Keed– Honestly just terrible. The adlibs were terrible, the “lyrics” were terrible and apart from a 10 second spurt, the flow was terrible. It was disrespectful for XXL to even put him in the same room as Jack Harlow and Polo G.

10. Calboy– The Illinois rapper started off fine, flowing nicely on the beat provided by Jetsonmade. He alluded to Polo G in a bar that was dangerously similar to one of Lil Durk’s in”Three Headed Goat” (feat. Polo G and Lil Baby) After this, Calboy simply could not find the beat, and lazily drudged along, as he relied on generic and unmemorable lyrics through the finish. On top of this, he was thoroughly stood up by his three Cypher partners. Extra points for style though!

9. Lil Tjay– While Tjay is not by any means a personal favorite of mine, it is impossible to ignore his talent, style and confident flow. However, his XXL Cypher verse was pretty routine, and he did not showcase his impressive potential. Tjay, in terms of music quality, would not be anywhere near the bottom of this list, yet his verse was rather disappointing to many.

The “Meh” Verses

8. NLE Choppa– NLE is a staple of a genre which encourages energy, rather than lyricism. Surprisingly, Choppa brought both to the table in his verse, including spouts of raw emotion. His verse even included some punchlines, including a rather questionable racy remark about asian people. NLE did better than expected, but did not blow any listeners out of the water.

7. Rod Wave– Rod Wave did exactly the opposite of NLE Choppa, and there is not much to say about his verse. He stuck to his singing/rapping style through and through, and showcased his true talent as a dual threat hip hop artist. However, similarly to Choppa, his lack of originality simply could not have him placed any higher.

6. Fivio Foreign– In a way that was almost comical, Fivio managed to completely freestyle a drill verse on a beat that was not suited for drill at all. In what seemed to be the only “off the dome” verse this year, Foreign really showed what he is about as a rapper. Not only that, but he brought life to the cypher by providing adlibs during his peers’ verses, and his chemistry with Mulatto is something to be noted.

The Good!

5. Chika– Personally, Chika is one of my top artists from this year’s class. She showcased impressive wordplay along with some pretty serious flow switches, easily putting herself a tier above the likes of Tjay, NLE and Rod Wave.

4. 24k Goldn– It comes to the surprise of many that Goldn performed so well alongside Calboy, Mulatto and Fivio Foreign. A college dropout whose (to be brutally honest) corny tracks exploded on TikTok, fans were unpleasantly surprised by his placement in this year’s class (over stars like Lil Tecca).

3. Jack Harlow– Harlow started off the first cypher so smoothly, and (maybe unintentionally?…) poked fun at Lil Mosey’s horrendous 2019 verse. The three spot is fair here, as Harlow further proves he is more than “What’s Poppin”, but he has definitely done more impressive freestyles (ex. Five Fingers of Death on Sway in the Morning).

The Great!!

2. Mulatto– The “Bitch from da Souf” rapper is a member of an increasingly popular branch of female made, sexually confident rap. No one, I repeat, no one, knew she would do as well as she did! Her flow was much faster than most of her songs, her wordplay and references were witty and her blatant flirting with Fivio was memorable.

1. Polo G– I’ll be the first to say that I dislike when rappers cut the beat in cyphers. However, Polo was a rare exception. Easily the most popular artist in this year’s class, Polo did deliver. His verse was socially conscious (but not excessive), and had some serious battle-rap punchlines. A job well done.

Thank You for Reading!




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