Rapzilla.com’s 15 Freshmen of 2018
Story

We’re excited to announce the 8th annual Rapzilla.com Freshmen class! The Rapzilla.com staff looked at around 50 new artists on the radar for our 2018 Freshmen Class. We narrowed down the list to the 15 artists that we think are going to lead the way.

Our opinion is subjective of course, however, the one criteria that these artists must meet is that the artists could not have released more than one full-length album. In the United States, the Recording Industry Association of America defines an EP as containing three to five songs or under 30 minutes. Anything beyond 30 minutes is considered an LP, or full-length album. Without further adieu, here is the official Rapzilla.com Freshmen of 2018.


Artificial Christian



Artificial Christian has that true essence of hip-hop vibe. They are musical, fun, conscious, and just flat out make great music. Their sample size for 2017 is small, but if it's any indication of what's to come, prepare for a strong 2018.

When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

All four of us had been pursuing music individually since various points in our childhood. In early 2017, we decided to come together as a group after connecting through the hip-hop scene in Phoenix and vibing with each other's talents. With Warren being from the Bronx, Weez from Texas, Mendoza from New Mexico, andjo PS being an Arizona resident, we felt like God had called us from across the states to create music that glorifies Him and that offers a complex Christian perspective that covers everything from politics to nature to relationships and work. All of life is all for Him, and we wanted that to be reflected in every song we create.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

The most memorable moment so far has been the listening party we threw for our first, self-titled mixtape release. We packed 50 people into our small, in-house studio space, and everyone loved the project and provided some great feedback. That served as a springboard for many show opportunities and collaborations. It was a strong connection point for the local CHH scene, with artists like Davis Absolute coming out to support.

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

We are working on our EP, due out for release in the first quarter of 2018. The project will be executive produced by Dominic Mendoza, and we're looking to dive deeper into life changes that have been pervasive over the last year, from marriages and babies to changes in work and living situations. We see the Lord working in new ways through it all, and can't wait to translate that into our music.

Follow Artificial Christian on Facebook and Twitter.

CJ King



CJ King really started making moves in 2016 in preparation for 2017. This year he dropped his free ep The Session and dropped singles "Overtime" with Zauntee and Tha Move with former Freshman Jered Sanders. King is poised to be among the leaders of the new school in 2018 and beyond.



When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

I decided to seriously pursue music during my freshman year at Liberty University. I performed at every single open mic, passed out CDs that I printed from my laptop, and started a studio in my dorm room.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

Wow, I would have to say it's between being the very first to ever get a letter from Liberty University stating they would literally pay for my schooling if I would become the first hip-hop artist on the school's roster and Travis Greene DMing me to let me know how much he enjoys my music. I've always admired his artistry so I admit I was a little star struck.

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

2018 is going to be crazy. I'm headlining a tour starting in March and co-headlining another tour in August. Of course, you can expect more visuals and music. Lastly, I'm under contract so I'll be vague but I'm blessed to be apart of something that's going to put CHH on the map like never before. So make sure to follow your boy because 2018 is going to be a wild ride, I promise.

Follow CJ King on Facebook and Twitter.

Dru Bex



Dru Bex has been around in some capacity for around five years, but in 2017 he really came into his own with the release of The Good Album. Dru also saw his label, Role Model Records, partner with RMG Amplify. After years of deliberating on becoming a secular rapper or a Christian rapper, his wife set him on the right path. When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

Hmm, that's a tough one for sure. When I was in my late teens I hooked up with a couple of other guys from my church and we formed a group called Christyle. We definitely thought we were gonna take over the music industry and we might've been a little naive about a few things. As we got older we kind of adjusted our expectations and we all went and got real jobs and got married but I was the only one who still kept one foot in the music. Things really changed for me in 2011. A lot of talent from my city was blowing up and for the first time I felt like being from Toronto was actually a good thing instead of an excuse for not making it. I decided to make a major push but I was kind of drifting towards the mainstream, and I don't mean like NF or Lecrae, I mean straight up secular. Lots of prayers, an ultimatum from the wife and one heart check later and I finally decided to pursue a career making God-centered hip-hop again. I think that was around 2013 right before I made my first EP, Nowhere to Now Here.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

Another tough one! I feel like all of 2017 was super memorable but I'd probably have to say releasing The Good Album which was my first official album. I spent so many years honing my craft and to see it finally pay off was such a blessing. I've heard many people say the album was slept on but those who have heard it seem to really love it. Even before the album, I would say the release of "Running Man" was a huge turning point in my career. The song was so well received and put me on a lot of people's radar.

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

2018 is definitely looking to be another great year. The whole plan is to build on the successes of 2017 but this time around I have even more support thanks to the deal with RMG Amplify. It will definitely be the year where I release the most music I've ever released in one year. Look out for another album which will actually be part two of a planned quadrilogy that started with The Good Album, a couple of joint projects and lots of dope collabs, singles, and videos.

Follow Dru Bex on Facebook and Twitter.

Eric Heron



Eric Heron had one of the most well-rounded years on this list. He dropped his free EP Dawn last spring and then dropped a bunch of singles in the summer and fall in preparation for his debut, Afterglow: A Somewhat Complicated Story. His single and music video for the song "Be Me" did extremely well, and the non-album cut "Obi-Wan" received over 100,000 plays on Spotify alone. Eric has worked with former freshman Lawren, and current freshman, WHATUPRG.

When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

I started messing around with songwriting and rapping during high school, but my main focus was always to play college baseball so I never really took it seriously. It wasn't until my sophomore year of college that I realized how much I loved music and that's when I really sat down and started to work on my craft.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

I think the most memorable moment in my career to this point has been seeing the support and love for the release of my debut album and hearing people's stories about how they relate to some of the songs and messages. I would never have dreamed in a million years that I would actually make something that people enjoyed, let alone have it impact them in a positive way, it's truly been a blessing.

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

I'm currently working on some of my best music to date, as well as starting to line up shows for 2018. I've never been able to perform because I was in college but now that I graduated I'm really looking forward to hitting the road and getting hype with my fans!

Follow Eric Heron on Facebook and Twitter.

FVMELESS



FVMELESS might not be familiar to many of the readers but he quietly found himself among many talented rappers in Christian hip-hop. He's part of the Streetlight Sounds crew, and with them released the track "No Brakes" with J.Crum, Greco, Walt Fortune, T-Vision, and Mola-B. He also did tracks with YourWelcome fka Ki'Shon Furlow, Levi Hinson, and Shiwan. FVMELESS racked up a considerable amount of monthly listeners on Spotify which is attributed from being featured on Spotify's Discover Weekly and Release Radar.



When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

I've always had a passion for music and dreamt of performing since I was a kid. I didn’t actually start making music until about three years ago. I saw Lecrae for the first time on his Anomaly tour and it sparked a love for rap music that I didn’t know existed. After that, I started learning about production and taught myself everything I could (with a little help from the homie Kevmo). That Lecrae concert started everything for me. He and Gawvi were huge inspirations in starting my music career.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

The most memorable moment so far in my career is actually someone else’s accomplishment. The big homie J. Crum got to open for Lecrae this last fall and he asked me to be apart of his set. We had just launched Streetlight Sounds and it was incredible seeing so many people rock with us that night. Relationships/collaborations like that are what makes this music thing so special to me.

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

Myself and Vic Sage are dropping a project in early 2018, a project that has been in the works for almost a year. After that, I plan on releasing lots of singles with some very talented artists and I’m planning my own debut project dropping towards the end of the year. 2018 should be a fun ride!

Follow FVMELESS on Facebook and Twitter.

Jet Trouble



Jet Trouble burst on the scene thanks to his signing to Kings Dream Entertainment by Ruslan. Jet Trouble is more in the Joey Jewish lane of hip-hop, hitting melodic verses with hip-hop infused tracks and features. His first single was called "Wendy Peffercorn," and that's about as good of a start as anyone can ask for. He also released a great debut project Warren Park.



When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

I started pursuing music at 14 years old; honestly what really got me into music were the rap battles on the school bus ride home back in Middle School, it was an everyday affair that we all took pride in and the passion for music and writing grew from there.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

This year has been my most successful year yet with the release of Warren Park doing so well across digital platforms. Just being able to see the love it was shown was huge for me; I put everything I am into that record and was brutally honest with the listener. Being able to see it embraced by the people in a major way was definitely memorable.

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

2018, I plan on turning around and dropping another album fairly soon. I'm gonna be taking a lot more creative risks and I'm sure they'll see some cool features thrown their way as well.

Follow Jet Trouble on Facebook and Twitter.


Joe Ayinde



Joe Ayinde is what they call "your favorite rapper's favorite rapper." His EP Penny Fore My Thoughts has received praise from listeners and peers alike. The project should be on your list of favorite EP's of 2017. Ayinde also appeared on Davis Absolute's "The Body (Pt. 3)" ft. Dru Bex, Phil J., and Martyr Thompson.

When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

I decided I wanted to pursue music the first time I saw MC Hammer on TV. I wanted to do everything he did, down from the rat tail, to the cheesy raps and parachute pants. He embodied a pure entertainer.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

The most memorable moment of my career was performing at B.B. Kings in NYC for a packed house on my 21st Birthday.

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

I'm working on an EP with Ohio based producer Ian “Conz” Weir, and I’ll be releasing a slew of videos and singles in between.

Follow Joey Ayinde on Twitter.

Kevi



If you missed out on Kevi this year than you weren't paying attention. Kevi was super consistent all year with putting out singles, videos, and being featured on tracks. In 2017 he worked with Joey Jewish, Reconcile, Surf Gvng, and many others while dropping his project Barnabas.



When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

Well, I decided I wanted to pursue music at the age of 14. I remember like it was yesterday in the middle of rapping at the lunch table and gaining confidence from a few friends saying, "Kevi you can actually rap bro." Ever since then I've been on the move doing talent shows and open mics. The year 2011 is when I met Christ. At this point, I already loved hip-hop and grew an even greater love for Christ. Things just shaped up from there and I honestly felt like I was called to make an impact with my gift.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

That's tough, I think the most memorable moment of my career thus far is probably when I had taken a break from school but wanted to continue with music so I slept countless nights in the studio praying, "God if this is for me then make it evident" and that he did. I grew great faith in the process, and my homie Reconcile said, "Boy you remind me of myself and how ambitious I was at your age. Don't give up." That gave me an extra push to keep on stride. My songs "Blessed" and "Good Day" came out of a struggling time in my life most people wouldn't even know about. I was speaking life even though I was going through it. I'm grateful!

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

I would say more dope music and more intentionality connecting with the fans. I got so much that I want to say and do it wouldn't even fit on this screen fam! Let's just say 2018 is the level up year. It's all in Gods hands baby! ChristLife!

Follow Kevi on Twitter and Instagram.

NOT KLYDE



NOT KLYDE is new to Rapzilla this year, and definitely new to our listeners but he put out a number of solid tracks this year. His propensity for capital letters – his name and singles, "NEVR ALON," "VAMPIRE NO FANGS," and "HUGO BOSS" are perhaps serving as a bold statement for what we believe to be a bright 2018. KLYDE was also added to Spotify's Mellow Bars playlist which has over 500,000 followers and the Spotify and Chill playlist which has 235,000 followers.




When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

This all truly started out as just a hobby and personal ministry. It was maybe until recently that I decided to really pursue it as some kind of career. I decided I wanted to pursue music as my personal ministry when the first few tracks I had made were so well received. Specifically, when one friend told me that one of my songs spoke to him. I realized that this (like everything) can be done all for God's glory and that if He can touch one person through it then I'll do whatever it takes to let that happen.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

Honestly, the most memorable moments the past two years have been people reaching out and saying they appreciate what I'm doing, or that they vibe with what I'm putting out. People—even rappers—that I would listen to. It's crazy to be genuinely bumping someone's song on my way to school, only to get there to receive a DM from them. It's all been really memorable and crazy.

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

Albums, ep's, many singles, more bops, merch, features, and much more. It's gonna be a dope 2018 and I can't wait to show everyone what God has revealed to me.

Follow NOT KLYDE on Instagram and Twitter.

Rockstar Jt



Rockstar Jt's music makes you move. In 2017 he dropped two anthems, "Whippin' Dat Work" featuring Surf Gvng and "Getcha' Weight Up" featuring Big Yae, CBM Muley, and Cet Dollar, with the latter two artirts being two big secular artists from Jt's area. Rockstar Jt is well on his way to being a rapstar in 2018.




When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

I decided to pursue music in the summertime of 2013. I was challenged to do a song about Christ at a local urban ministry called Common Ground Montgomery, based out of My city. I never knew I'd be doing music to glorify God but when I first started putting out music in 2014 the reaction of the people showed me that this is what I'm supposed to be doing.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

The most memorable moment of my career so far is when I had a show in Boston and I was at the airport and a fan noticed me. She pointed at me and said "Rockstar Jt" I said, "Yes that's me" and she told me that she loved my music and I gave her a hug and posted a picture of us on my social media.

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

In 2018 fans should be on the lookout for my new Mixtape Streets Signed Me that drops in February 2018. Pre-orders should be available January 3rd, 2018. Also, I will be on tour with Corey Paul & Byron Juane!

Follow Rockstar Jt on Facebook and Twitter.

Th3 Saga



Th3 Saga is an interesting selection for the Freshman list because he has been around for a number of years and is well known. Most of his status comes at a great battle rapper who dropped songs over the years. However, in 2017, Saga's musical bars were just as deadly as his battle bars and are prepping him to make great music in 2018. Last year, he did tracks with Bizzle, Ruslan and Joey Jewish. He dropped a music video for "More Than This 2.0" featuring Bizzle and Dimitri McDowell just before the year ended.



When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

When did you decide to pursue music: I decided to seriously pursue music at 18 years old, around the time my relationship with God reached a whole new level.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

One of the most memorable moments in my career I’d say is collaborating with Adidas & Pharrell’s campaign for his new tennis clothing line. The fact that Adidas & Pharrell were aware of my work was such a humbling moment.

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

The fans should be prepared for more exciting battles, merch, my first time touring, as well as my new project A.O.L dropping in the first quarter of the year!

Follow Th3 Saga on Facebook and Twitter.


Tobe Nwigwe



Tobe Nwigwe is an unknown to most on Rapzilla but while he was 2017's best kept secret, the cat's out the bag in 2018. Born in Texas to Nigerian parents, Tobe's rhymes paint vivid pictures of growing up around gangs and violence while also touching on the struggles of his heritage. He also overcame the personal tragedy of losing out on an NFL football career after a debilitating knee injury took the dream away while playing for University of North Texas.



When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

When CJ (The co-owner of ETA) explained to me the power of influence that music has – and the talent, character, and integrity I would add to the movement already established by ETA and the music industry.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

Getting married, and releasing an EP in the same year.

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

More #getTWISTEDsundays mixtapes and original music.

Follow Tobe Nwigwe on Facebook and Twitter.

(Photo credit: Anthony Rathbun)

WHATUPRG



WHATUPRG is an anomaly. He only has four tracks of his own but is one of the most talked about young artists in the genre. He can rap, sing, produce, and does design work. He was heavily featured on tracks by Derek Minor, and has done songs with Lawren, nobigdyl., Mogli the Iceburg, and Eric Heron to name a few. He recently joined the indie.tribe collective, received a Lecrae co-sign, and you can expect that his debut album is dropping soon. His song "Aquafina" is also in the running for Best Single of the Year.

When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

I’ve always loved music. I used to hit my mom’s pots and pans with spoons and pretend I was playing drums when I was a kid. I started performing when I was 7, writing songs when I was 12 and producing in high school. I don’t think there was a moment I said “I wanna make music,” it’s just something I’ve always done. I tried working a “regular” job for a few months and quit cause I didn’t have time to create. I guess that’s a moment. That was a little over a year ago.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

I played my parents my project the other day, that was the best. Other than that, going on tour with my friends and meeting people across the country who support me. That’s dope. Seeing people respond to songs I made at my mom’s house will never get old. That’s super dope.

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

New music. That’s all. Tribe is definitely on the move.

Follow WHATUPRG on Facebook and Twitter.

Vic Sage



Vic Sage impressed listeners in 2017 with his EP Long Days Longer Nights which featured Joey Jewish and YourWelcome fka Ki-Shon Furlow among others. He had a great streaming year and made the Top 50 Viral list in Canada and Australia which came as a result of landing on Spotify's The Blaze playlist and Promoting Sounds' Chill Rap playlist, among others.. As stated by he and FVMELESS, they have a joint project coming out in 2018 which will only increase their Freshmen status.



When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

I decided to pursue music my Junior year of high school. In the beginning, it definitely wasn't something that came natural, so I kept my head down and worked at it. Eventually, people from my city began to find it and spread the word. Now I consider myself fully invested in spending all my time and energy into the craft and business side of music. God has moved in ways that I could never have imagined these last few years and I am constantly reminded of His sovereignty.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

Earlier this year I worked with an artist from my city that goes by the name K'sean. Together, we made a song that felt underground, unique and a little polarizing, but we dropped it anyways. Two months later, it went viral in Canada and Australia on Spotify, cracking the top 50 charts in both countries. It was so dope to see something that we created from the city of Omaha, which really doesn't have a music scene let alone a hip-hop movement, reach so many people. That was a milestone that I constantly look back to when I feel stagnant or am worried about pleasing everybody with every release. It was also so dope to see some of my favorite artists and blogs begin to follow and reach out over the past year.

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

My fans should expect a dope collaborative EP with my guy Fvmeless early in 2018. They should also expect a lot of new collaborations with artists of every caliber and POV. I am inspired endlessly by the new waves of hip-hop as well as my peers that continue to push me to be the most creative artist that I can be. I hope that I can give them new and refreshing perspectives on how they listen to music, insights, and outlooks that they would not hear in the mainstream or CHH.

Follow Vic Sage on Instagram and Twitter.

Zauntee



Zauntee, much like RG, is one of the newer artists on this list. His 2017 left an impact with his smash single, "God Taught Me," which quickly became one of the most watched videos of all-time on the Rapzilla YouTube with over a million views. His fans, known as the "Zealot Gang," are as hardcore a fanbase as any out there. He released his All.things mixtape and followed his first single with "No. 34." You better believe that someone is going to sign this guy.



When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?

I've loved music my whole life and have been writing songs since I was 10 years old. I made the decision to start pursuing music when I was 14, and that's when I started producing. I officially launched my career in 2017 with the release of my first single "God Taught Me" back in March.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

There have been so many incredible things I've experienced. Doing packed out shows where the whole crowd knows my songs, signing autographs and taking pictures, getting recognized out in public pretty much every time I go somewhere, fan interaction (Zealot Gang is the best), traveling to all these new spots, just living my dream! I never thought it would happen so fast. All Glory to God!

What should fans be on the lookout for musically from you in 2018?

I'm gonna keep taking over. Trust me, no one does it like Zauntee. Me and the Zealots 'bout to change everything. I'm creating a movement, LIVE THE REVOLUTION!

Follow Zauntee on Facebook and Twitter.

Readers' Choice Picks for the 2018 Rapzilla.com Freshmen Class



*Note, we nominated 1K Phew however, he declined as he felt like he was no longer a freshman.

Poll Results



Check out each Rapzilla.com Freshmen class since the beginning: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017.

About the Author
Justin Sarachik has been writing about music since 2010 reporting and editing for The Christian Post, BREATHEcast, Broken Records Magazine, and his own blog TheSIBandGuy. When not conducting obscenely long phone interviews he jumps around on stage with his progressive rock/rap band Process of Fusion in Staten Island, NY.

Related Articles

Trending

Our Playlists

Christian Rap Playlist
Click Here To Follow On Spotify


Christian Rap Supreme Playlist
Click Here To Follow On Apple Music