For the past three years, XXL has selected 10 MCs that represent the future of the game. With the 2010 Freshmen class recently unveiled, we’re catching up with some of the previous artists that graced our highly anticipated Freshmen cover. Atlanta star B.O.B. was part of last year’s class and has some fond memories of his shoot, including crackin’ a bottle with Asher Roth, and how the cover impacted his career. Now a sophomore, Bobby Ray gives a few wise words of advice for a New Breed of Hustlers.
XXLMag.com: How much of an impact was it on your career to be one of the 10 Freshmen of 2009?
B.O.B.: It was definitely one of the huge stepping-stones in my journey to releasing my album and getting exposure as an artist. I gained respect from people who saw that issue and saw that article.
XXLMag.com: Do you remember where you were when you found out about the cover?
B.O.B.: I think I was in L.A. and I definitely felt honored… I thought it was going to be a fold out so I was hoping for a good spot on the fold out [Laughs] but y’all did multiple pages.
XXLMag.com: What were your thoughts when you saw the stacked covers?
B.O.B.: I feel like it was good that everybody got their own; that everybody got to be on the cover and it wasn’t just the fold out with some people on the cover and some people on the inside fold out. No one’s face got folded on. There wasn’t a crease on nobody’s face. [Laughs].
XXLMag.com: Are you just saying that because you were on the front?
B.O.B.: [Laughs] Well, I could be kind of bias I was on the front of XXL.
XXLMag.com: At the time did you realize how big this cover would become each year?
B.O.B.: Yeah, definitely… I’m glad because last year y’all chose a lot of up-and-coming artists; y’all didn’t necessarily chose the artist who already had songs on the radio or artists that were already signed. I feel like it was a good organic mix.
XXLMag.com: It’s rare that you get 10 rappers together in the same room. What do you remember most about the day of the photo shoot?
B.O.B.: I liked that day because it was almost like a group therapy session with all the artists. We were in a circle and it was a candid interview. Y’all asked us questions and we kinda just went around the circle and that’s something that’s probably once in a lifetime… It’s hard to get artists together and just talk without it being like stylists, make-up artists, PR, managers… it’s always 50 people surrounding artists so you never really get to talk to an artist face to face. I felt that it was good that we got to do that.
XXLMag.com: Yeah, and didn’t Asher Roth kind of break the ice when he broke out the beers?
B.O.B.: Yeah, he sure did. I forgot about that… And somebody broke out the cigarettes. Yeah, you never see that, man… It was good because usually at a shoot or anything with a bunch of artists everybody got that ego, everybody got that wall up, nobody’s really talking and with that shoot it was like there was no ego, it just really felt like regular people, like you’re a fan.
XXLMag.com: Was there anyone that you were surprised to meet or just how cool they were?
B.O.B.: Charles Hamilton is real blunt, straight to the point. Asher Roth is like a delegate; maybe I’m not using the right word. He’s like a peacekeeper. He brought out the brews; he’s like the person that makes sure everything is copasetic. Everybody had different personalities but at the same time, everybody understood the artistry with the part that we can relate to, which is the artistry.
XXLMag.com: What do you think this cover means for future Freshmen artists coming into the game?
B.O.B.: It’s kinda like a yearbook. But, instead of being on the inside cover, just somewhere in there randomly, it’s like you’re on the cover of it and it’s like memories.
XXLMag.com: Do you have any advice for this year’s Freshmen class to make sure they use the best of this opportunity?
B.O.B.: Be patient because this is something that is definitely like a benchmark in your career. You’ll never be able to do that again. It’s like you can become famous but you can’t become un-famous. When you’re famous people become mad, there’s nothing you can do to where people just forget you or be un-famous so enjoy these times and just be patient.
XXLMag.com: Do you have any favorites out of this year’s class?
B.O.B.: Actually I ran into Wiz Khalifa at Satellite Radio and I ran into Donnis the other day. J. Cole is dope; I’m really impressed with him. We did a song on my May 25th mixtape [“Gladiators”] and he can spit. I feel like a lot of these guys can spit at a level to where it’s like even though they’re freshmen, I feel like they can hang with anybody. J. Cole came to Atlanta and he brought me out on to the set and that dude got a following. I’m really excited to see what he’s going to do.
XXLMag.com: Although you were a 2009 Freshmen, your debut album is finally set to drop next month. How’s it feel to finally have a date?
B.O.B.: It’s been a long journey, man. It’s good and that’s what I would tell the Freshmen now; it’s going to be a long journey so don’t feel like all the stuff with the label, and the issues you run into… it’s normal and it’s expected. Even if you had your own record label and you built your own team of people you’re going to run into the same problems. Because people are people no matter what, it’s the same thing like, photographers, stylists, fashion designers, it’s like people are people and once you understand that element of it then you can really start to build your team or learn how to work with people. That’s the main thing that I would say. —Anslem Samuel