The Rapzilla Freshmen of 2020 have been busy all year making noise and killing it musically. These 16 rappers had an awesome 2019 and we knew that in 2020 they’d explode even more.

This year we threw out all the rules on what it takes to become a freshman because music streaming has skewed what albums, EPs, and projects are. Also, for the first time, we added a fan vote to name the 16th Freshmen.

*Many of these answers were given pre-COVID-19.*

So without further adieu, here we go!

A.I. the Anomaly

A.I. the Anomaly

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

I believe it’s a testament to the work I’ve done. It shows me that the work I’ve put in as an artist has been accepted and respected enough to be recognized on the premiere platform within this genre.

It also means that the message of hope through the gospel which I work hard to have stitched into my music will be heard by new ears. My hope is to ignite change through the arts and this will expand the reach and for that I am grateful.

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and with a fan so far?

Traveling across the country and coming face to face with those who listen to my music and to hear them say that something that I said or what they see through social media encourages them to keep pushing. That’s amazing!

Also the students I work with throughout my city, being able to show them the possibilities within the arts. Letting them see how someone who comes from the same space as they can be successful with faith, hard work, consistency, and commitment.

What do you have planned for 2020?

My aim is to continue to use art as a tool to ignite change and raise awareness on the issues that plague our society and the resources that are available to assist in building better communities.

For example, my BLNKNVS (Blank Canvas) Paint & Release nights aim to create an atmosphere to begin real conversations about topics that I speak on within my music. Attendees paint a portrait based on a track from my latest project as I perform a few songs and discuss the topic/theme for the night. At the last Paint & Release night, we discussed substance abuse. I showcased my latest music video and had two speakers from within the community speak about the recovery centers they are affiliated with and the change that they see happening because of it.

I am looking to continue creating unique opportunities for people to come together, release, talk, cry, laugh, and leave feeling encouraged to connect, build, and take action within their communities.

Oh…. and I would also love to drop an EP/Project and collaborate with others within the genre this year!

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish as an artist in the next 5 years?

One goal is to begin a consulting line under my business for Christian Hip Hop artists. I’d like to assist artists in becoming more intentional about the message within their music and ways that they can use art to drive the gospel beyond music.

I’d like to continue to share and tell stories through writing, photography, and film.

Arrow

Arrow

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

Being named a Rapzilla freshmen came as a huge surprise to me. I’ve followed Rapzilla since I got into Christian Hip Hop in 2015, and I always saw the freshmen list to be a huge milestone in the careers of the artists which made the list. The reason I found it surprising was not only because I only started my brand in 2019, but because I was the only producer to be nominated. It was awesome to even be considered for the list as a producer, let alone make the final cut.

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey so far?

My best moments in my very short artistic journey have been making great friends who not only make great music but are fellow disciples of God and push me to be the best I can be both spiritually and musically. The people I have befriended such as Jxhn Pvul, Swaizy, Nic D, Avila, and many more, have helped me grow tremendously as a person which is something I needed. If I had to pinpoint the best moment of my career to one point, I would go with A3C which is what boosted my career through Swaizy and I winning the live critique session and is where I met many of the people I surround myself with today.

What do you have planned for 2020?

I’m going to make music. Great music. A lot of It.

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?

I am not sure what plans God has for me… but what I do know is that I’m going to keep my head down and continue to bust my butt doing everything I can to better myself and better the music my team puts out. One big goal for me in the next years is to be able to leave my job and go full time with music.

I am still a senior in high school and I work nearly full time at a sub shop. This leaves me with little time for me to work on music, but I have learned to maximize my productivity in the limited time I have. Being able to go full time in music would not only allow me to spend more time doing what I love without worrying about how I will pay my bills but will allow me to make a more substantial impact in this culture. I’ll be doing everything I can do get to this point.

I would like to thank everyone at Rapzilla for the platform they have built and the time they put into the community, oftentimes seeing little to no return for their efforts. Thank you, Chad, Justin, Steven, and OB for considering me for this list. And thank you to anyone who has ever supported me in any way. This is just the beginning.

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Hulvey

Hulvey

*Answers are taken from a different interview…*

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshman mean to you?     

It’s super cool to me man. Back in high school, I would submit things to Rapzilla but it never got accepted. (Laughing) I love that it’s coming back full circle in. To be a Freshman is an encouraging part of my story as an artist for sure.

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?

Honestly, I see myself just being obedient. It’s hard for me to make plans too far in the future (like who could have predicted COVID-19?). But some tangible things are pouring back into Brunswick for sure. That doesn’t mean necessarily moving there per se but I definitely wanna use my resources to help people and just continue to do what God has put on my heart.

Jaylon Ashaun

Jaylon Ashaun

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

It’s always dope when a community of people rock with what you’re doing. So I appreciate the love from the supporters!

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey so far?

One of the best moments in my career was dropping a rough draft every week for 6 months straight with my team/friends! One day I was walking in the grocery store shopping and this random dude was like, “You’re Jaylon Ashaun, you just dropped a draft yesterday!” and asked for a picture. That was dope to see that the music was spreading and connecting with people!

What do you have planned for 2020?

More Music, More Visuals, I want to let the people get to know me and my crew more this year.

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?

I want to headline a tour in the next five years. Build out a strong fanbase and community and constantly progress as an artist.

J. Crum

J. Crum

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

It was really cool. I actually thought that it wasn’t a possibility for me. I knew the rules made me ineligible over the past few years so I was moving these past years without it in my head. Not thinking I was eligible was probably the best thing that could’ve happened because it made me have the correct motives in creating art.

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and with a fan so far?

It was probably after I released my music video for “Placebos.” I was getting messages from all over the world telling me that they didn’t want to kill themselves anymore and felt like they weren’t alone. That was bigger than any trophy for me.

What do you have planned for 2020?

2020 is going to be huge. I’m dropping a new single every three weeks and every single will have a music video attached. Also, I will be going on a few tours this year.

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish as an artist in the next 5 years?

Id love to sign a deal worthwhile and be able to transition into music full time.

Kamban

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

I’m very grateful and honored to be on this list. Specifically, because it’s a list of people who have dedicated themselves to lifting up the name of Jesus through music.

The reason I highlight that point is because I’ve tasted a small portion of worldly “success” in music. At that time, I had never felt more empty and hopeless. I’m grateful that God rescued me from that place.

Doing it for His glory has brought new authenticity to my music and my life. To say that I’m honored to get to be able to do this for my King would be an understatement. Being on this list is definitely an encouragement because it affirms the calling that I believe He’s placed on my life.

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and with a fan so far?

Artistically, it’s very difficult for me to highlight one specific moment. I’ll say this.

When I’m writing a song, I tend to subconsciously think about how it’s going to affect people, and it definitely drives the passion you hear in my lyrics. So when I get encouragement from listeners and from other believers daily, showing appreciation for the art, the music, and the way that Christ shines through my lyrics, I get to have a ton of those moments, daily.

But I can definitely highlight a very specific moment with a fan.

When I was doing the KambanRemix contest with Rapzilla, I came across an entry from a contestant who was almost in tears during his performance.

I was moved to hear the humility in his broken voice as he spoke about the ways that Jesus rescued him from a dark place. I wanted to hear more about this guy’s story, so I had him call me.

This man proceeded to tell me that he was homeless for a prolonged period of time and that while he was sleeping on the streets, God used my music to inspire him and help him push through those dark times. He had been living in his new apartment for a few weeks at that point. I cannot even explain to you how grateful I was to know that I got to play a part in that man’s journey.

What do you have planned for 2020?

I plan to seek God’s face and find Him in new ways. When I first started doing this music for Him, I did it with the revelation that my life is not my own because He straight up saved my life. And that’s not an exaggeration.

I want to make sure that any music that I release in 2020 is made with the same conviction. It’s because of his loving-kindness that I’m even here today. This scripture comes to mind: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” – James 4:10

I know that right now, He very specifically called me to go out and start doing more events and shows and share my testimony in 2020. Instead of waiting for another door to open, I’m to take what I already have and walk through the door that He’s already opened for me.

Also, I plan to do a 5 song EP and release a ton of singles with collaborations from a bunch of upcoming Christian artists. Beyond that, I believe that God is going to open up new opportunities for me to share my testimony through my music in a very BIG way in 2020.

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish as an artist in the next 5 years?

It sounds lofty, but I want God to use my music to set the broken, hurting, and addicted free like never before seen through Christian hip-hop. I can’t really put a specific number or statistic on it.

Speaking practically, I just want to gain sustainability with music as a career to provide for myself. I believe God wants that too.

But the thing is, I’m expecting God to take care of it, rather than manipulate it for myself. By no means am I afraid to work for it, I just want to make sure that I’m not exalting that pursuit over serving Him and seeking His kingdom.

Kurtis Hoppie

Kurtis Hoppie

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

How else can I say it but it’s truly a blessing to be recognized and honored for my Craft.

I believe this is a major moment of confirmation, letting me know that I am truly on the right path. To be a Rapzilla freshman is honestly crazy to me because I look up to so many of the past Freshman and see what they did AFTER being freshman that has shaped our culture in a major way today. I believe the people you see right here are freshman who are going to change the future of music as a whole, it’s an honor to be chosen by Rapzilla, but in the end, it feels even greater to be chosen by God.

This is one more small piece of His grand puzzle for my life as well as the others and those who are involved in our lives. I pray God’s hand is over all of us as well as Rapzilla because there is work to be done, together we are the voice of a generation. #OneVisionArmy #OVA

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and with a fan so far?

Man, I think it would be impossible to name one thing that could be the best. I have gotten to sing on stage in front of thousands of people. I’ve been on tour with some of my hero’s who became friends (Derek Minor, Bryann Trejo, nobigdyl., Canon, Steven Malcolm, etc). I have gotten to speak life and hear stories and laugh and cry and pray with fans around the country. I have seen miracles before my eyes and beneath my own hands. God has blessed me so much, I have to say the entire journey has been the best as a whole. Even the hard times pass, and when they do God shines even brighter.

What do you have planned for 2020?

I also have an EP on the way, we are hoping for May.

I have a few shows booked around the country that I will be announcing soon, I was asked by Bryann Trejo to perform with him at summer fest 2020, and I have 2 tours in the works as of now. Excited for all of this and whatever God has for me throughout the year.

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish as an artist in the next 5 years?

My biggest goal and prayer is this:

In 5 years…I am humble, loving and serving God with my life. Whatever else happens is fine with me. Wouldn’t mind a wife and to work with Kanye.

Miles Minnick

Miles Minnick

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

It’s an honor. I don’t do what I do for the accolades but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t feel good to be acknowledged for the work I put in.

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and with a fan so far?

The best moment in my artistic journey was getting fired from my 9 – 5. Without that happening, I wouldn’t have been able to tour to 30+ cities throughout the US in the second half of 2019, go to London UK for music, or be part of A3C. Truly a blessing in disguise.

The best moment with a fan would be when I called a kid on stage, gave him a microphone, and watched him perform my whole song word for word. Insane!

What do you have planned for 2020?

Two tours, partnering with a prominent label, feature films, and a lot more music with your favorite artists!

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish as an artist in the next 5 years?

Create a platform that I can use to change the lives of other like-minded creatives. As God continues to open doors for me, I want to make sure I hold them open for those coming behind me.

Nic D

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

I’ve always understood that quality is subjective and what I create won’t be appreciated by everyone. There will be people it won’t resonate with and there will be people that simply don’t like it. I understand and accept that. With that said, I’m human and it feels good to be acknowledged and appreciated. So, how does it feel being named a Rapzilla Freshman? It feels good.

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and with a fan so far?

Best moment? Lots of cool moments, each completed goal feels like the best moment when you’re in the moment. Then those moments fade and your on to set new goals. Rinse and repeat. I just love being able to experience those moments.

With a fan? Any opportunity I get to show people love. Being recognized out and about is a cool feeling too. Like what you’re doing has an impact and a reach. Words are so powerful and I love piecing words together. I love when people send me messages and they notice something small like, I don’t cuss in my music and they ask me why. I can respond with Jesus. I love responding with Jesus. They noticed something about the way I try to carry myself and they wondered what was different. Now they know it’s because of Jesus.

What do you have planned for 2020?

A song and music video every week. Maybe more, but a song and video a week at minimum.

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish as an artist in the next 5 years?

Full-time music, though I’m hoping to accomplish that this year. Five years? That’s a long way away. I don’t think I’ve ever made a 5-year plan. I’m more of a 5-minute planner. My overall goal is to love on people the way Jesus does and have a large platform to use for it.

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

It’s an honor! Really cool to hear the music is connecting and resonating with people

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and with a fan so far?

Growing up I used to always go to this concert series at an art museum in my hometown and it had a huge impact on me. It gave me an appreciation for music’s ability to connect people and it helped me see music as an art form, not just entertainment. So it was really cool for me to be able to go back home and play a show in the series last year. Hopefully, some of the people who came were impacted like I was as a kid.

What do you have planned for 2020?

I’ve been working on a few collaborations and I’m just planning to slowly release what I’ve got. I like to keep the music thing lax and fun, so I kinda just make songs when I feel like it and release them if I still like them by the time I’m done. So I’ll keep doing that.

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish as an artist in the next 5 years?

In the next 5 years? Hmmm my goal is to still have something worthwhile to say over a beat 5 years from now

Seni.

seni.

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

Being a Rapzilla freshmen means a lot because before becoming an artist, I was first a fan and I discovered a lot of my favorite artists through Rapzilla. I’m honored to be a part of this. Also, I’m proud to be able to represent my Polynesian people in this space because there’s not many of us in this. Thank you Rapzilla for the love and support.

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and with a fan so far?

There are a lot of moments, but if I have to choose one I think the best moment so far was getting to open up for WHATUPRG back home in the Bay Area for The Saint Holy Tour in September 2019.

RG showing love and giving me that opportunity meant a lot to me because that was the first time my family and all my little cousins finally got to watch me perform. And that night was special. Crazy thing is that I met a fan/supporter after that show who is a day one supporter from my very first EP back in 2017 when no one knew me. So meeting her there was wild just to see how far God has brought me.

What do you have planned for 2020?

I know people think I’m never going to drop new music, but I am and that’s what I have planned for 2020. More music than I’ve ever dropped in previous years and visuals! And I just want to say thanks to all the supporters for your patience with me.

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish as an artist in the next 5 years?

I really hope that in 5 years I will be a full-time artist where I’ve created a tribe/fanbase that would allow me to do a headline world tour. Sounds wild, but that’s my biggest goal right now for the next 5 years, God willing.

Swaizy

Swaizy

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

Becoming a Rapzilla Freshman is insane to me for real! I straight-up never would have thought God would have given me the opportunity to not just be nominated but an actual Rapzilla freshman is beyond crazy to even think about. Especially as my first year of actually attempting to make music and invest in myself, it’s super humbling and assures me in God’s vision. Truly I feel super honored.

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and with a fan so far?

My best interaction with a fan so far has been when I went to Phew and friends and people actually heard about me. I didn’t know people were actually listening to me because when you see 100k+ plays it doesn’t ever really sink in how many people listen and I’m super blessed. When a person came up to me and said, “Yo my friend in Australia told me about you” I was super excited and in shock. I said “Australia? that’s crazy” I barely go out of my own house but my music can travel where I cant.

What do you have planned for 2020?

I got so much planned for 2020 I can’t really name it all. I’ll go anywhere God wants me to but the plan is 2 small EP’s, a couple of singles with some crazy people you have definitely heard about and at least getting the majority of an album finished. Also, I have huge plans with just making as many connections as possible, friends, and some of the most insane merch you guys will have ever seen in our space! I just wanna have fun and have everybody rocking with the new music. Its nothing compared to what I have out now!

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish as an artist in the next 5 years?

Again I will go anywhere God wants me. It’s hard to visualize 5 years in the future but by then ill be 23. I will have hoped to be continually making bangers and enjoy it. Best case scenario graduate with my dorm-mate Arrow, (also on the list) move somewhere crazy, and have my passion as another form of income for me and my family!

Thomas Iannucci

Thomas Iannucci

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

Man…you have no idea. I’ve been waiting YEARS to do this interview, to answer these questions, to have the conversation we’re having right now. Back in college, I would check Rapzilla religiously to find the hottest artists in the culture and to find the upcoming new talent. The freshman list was always a guaranteed place to find quality rappers. I made it a goal of mine to make the list someday. I actually found the lists I made at the end of every year, where I set out my goals to accomplish for the upcoming year. Being a Rapzilla freshman has been on that list since at LEAST the end of 2016.

This means the world to me. As a kid from one of the smallest islands in Hawaii, just an island boy from the middle of the Pacific, to get recognized like this on the world stage is incredibly humbling, and also gives me hope that God will continue to use me to represent Him and Hawaii on the wild stage.

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and with a fan so far?

A tough question, for sure. Making the list might be it! But I would say probably winning the Nā Hōkū Hanohano (Hawaiian Grammy) award for Best Rap Album in 2018. It’s an incredibly prestigious award. I got to meet a ton of my childhood musical heroes (Jack Johnson congratulated me on winning – it was insane!), and getting to go to an award ceremony like that and give a speech in front of thousands of people that was televised statewide was so surreal. The fact that it was my very first album, and that it was dedicated in memory of one of my best friends who had just passed away, made it bittersweet but even more powerful.

As for best fan interaction, that’s tricky. As my name starts to get a little more out there, having strangers stop me randomly to ask for a picture together is surreal and really cool. But one thing that has always stuck with me is the time I got off stage after a show, and an older gentleman and his wife approached me. She said that he wanted to give me his email and asked if I could send him the lyrics to one of my songs that I’d performed, “Fade Away.”

He said the song (which is about struggling with anxiety and finding hope in Jesus) really touched him, and he wanted the lyrics so he could understand better because he’d been struggling with intense anxiety his entire life. Finally someone had been able to put his experience into words. I was incredibly touched. That’s the real reason I make music – to tell stories that give hope, to let people they aren’t alone in their struggles, and to ultimately direct them back to Jesus. So that one really hit home, for me.

What do you have planned for 2020?

Quite a few things! I’ve got another album coming out this year and I’m already working on the one after that. I’ve also got some music videos in the works. I’m also trying to see about putting together my first overseas tour – there’s been some interest in my music in Australia and New Zealand, as well as the continental United States, so if I can make something happen by the end of this year/early 2021, I’d be very happy.

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish as an artist in the next 5 years?

I’m coming for that Grammy, baby! I’ve had 3 goals for a long time now – to win a Hōkū, make the Rapzilla freshman list, and win a Grammy. 2/3 down – I think in 5 years I can go 3 for 3, God willing.

Tommy Royale

Tommy Royale

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

I was excited! I feel heard! Especially considering all my music is exclusively in Spanish. It’s kind of crazy to think about!

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and with a fan so far?

Artistic journey: Going on my first tour. It is definitely up there. In 3 months I developed genuine relationships with artists that I looked up to and traveled the country with some of my favorite artists who eventually turned into brothers. ALSO! WE SOLD OUT MY FIRST EVER HOME SHOW! I nearly cried.

Tommy is the hometown hero

What do you have planned for 2020?

KEEP GROWING! We have a really steady flow going and we want to make sure that it stays consistent. God has a lot of cool things lined up for us this year and all I can say is that we’re making HISTORY!

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish as an artist in the next 5 years?

In 3 years I will be one of the BIGGEST artists in this genre. God gave me a vision. And what we managed to do in 7 months is an indicator that God doesn’t lie nor take back his promises. Then we plot phase 2.

Xavier Sorrow

Xavier Sorrow

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

It’s insane to think I’m on this year’s list. Growing up I used to watch people like Andy, Social Club, & Xavier Omar get discovered here. It’s validation to me that the work I’ve put in with my team and the sacrifices I’ve made so far are being recognized. Honestly, I’m just so thankful for the listeners who rallied in and voted for me at my start, it means everything. I feel like I can only go up from here.

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and with a fan so far?

There are so many moments to choose from. The one I really appreciate the most is doing this show in San Jose and getting flown out for a paid performance. It was at that specific moment that I realized this could really be possible. The feeling of performing for 500 people for the first time is something else. But even more than that I connected with some fans after the show who opened up to me after hearing my set. I was able to pray over them and encourage them. I thank God for the blessings he’s brought and I hope that as I progress I can continue to have more moments like that.

What do you have planned for 2020?

I have a solo project I’ve been working on for over a year and have been writing since I was 19. So in 2020 Project: MDP is coming. Mark my words it IS the FUTURE…

I’m a storyteller by heart and this is going to be an experience at a level I’ve never done before. What I think people love about my music is the nostalgia & fresh perspective I bring. I hope to do a small tour of the project and finally bring my artistic vision to life with visuals and performances.

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish as an artist in the next 5 years?

Sorry I have two things. I want to grow what I’m doing here. There’s this stigma that if you want to make it you gotta be in Atlanta or L.A. but I really believe in my city. Phoenix is high key slept on and I want to put it on the map. I think we have the best talent and I want to help build the culture in Arizona. Also I low-key want to find a wife. I don’t want to be single forever, so yes, I am advertising myself on Rapzilla.

Xay Hill

Xay Hill

What does being named a Rapzilla Freshmen mean to you?

This means the world. Especially knowing that I played a part in the rule change! This is something I’ve been wanting for so long. I thank God!

What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and with a fan so far?

I’ve had many moments I’ve enjoyed but my favorite has to be when I was at work chilling then this random number calls me so I ignore it. Then I get a text from this number saying, “Aye it’s Canon if you wanna be on this album you better hit me back.” I freaked out!

My favorite moment with a fan has been going to do a show and at every show I do I turn it into an altar call. This girl came up to me saying she been cutting herself to ease her pain. So me and my bro laid hands on her and prayed so hard over her life. This girl ended up doing so much better after that. It blessed me to know that God used a small Xay Hill concert to help her.

What do you have planned for 2020?

I plan to drop ALOT OF MUSIC! I’m talking about albums, music videos, EPs, and doing a lot more features!

What is the biggest goal you hope to accomplish as an artist in the next 5 years?

I just want my music to be someone’s joy. I know it’s cheesy but it’s true, I could care less about rewards or being super famous. If I cared about fame I’d never share my platform with as many new artists. I just want my music to be in someone’s playlist rotation daily!

Let us know which of the Rapzilla Freshmen you’ve kept in your rotation this year! Be sure to check out the special intro to the Freshmen episode of the new Top 8 Countdown!

This is Your Top 8 Countdown! The show to hear the Top 8 Christian Rap songs as voted by YOU, hosted by @jonnyjeff_. With our first episode, we’re introducing you to the show and featuring a mix of dope tracks from our 2020 Rapzilla Freshmen Class.

Listen to the first episode below: