THIS TEXT ORIGINALLY APPEARS IN THE STORY "ON FIRE" FROM THE MARCH 2011 ISSUE OF XXL. ON SALE NOW.

XXL could teach a class on how to select the Freshman 10. It’s all about doing the homework, of course. For the past year, the XXL staff has kept their collective ears open for possible Freshmen for 2011. From listening to tons of mixtapes and music to attending shows and talking to fans and interviewing some of the possible picks, XXL has spent countless hours getting familiar with the candidates.

As the time approaches for final selections to be made, folks have been fighting for their causes. The arguments have gotten more intense, while the staff has been inundated with all sorts of pitches. From publicists, to managers, to fans, to label execs, to the rappers themselves, everyone has had an angle and their own picks (no one ever actually has a list of a full 10!). They’ve come through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter (some of the tweets have been a bit too much), BBM, phone calls, texts, smoke signals. There have been about a bazillion submissions altogether. With a bunch of new talent this year, the decision-making process has been hard.

Which qualifying MCs will make the cut? The complete list will be revealed in the coming weeks, but XXL wants to hear your full picks of 10. Submit your picks in the comment section below and the first person to submit a roster matching the official final 10 will win VIP tickets to a show in their city featuring one of the 2011 Freshmen. Be sure to check XXLMag.com in the coming weeks for the top 30 names most mentioned for this year’s list. It’s the last chance you’ll get to weigh in with your selections.

Class is (almost) in session!