It's already been five years since XXL launched its inaugural Freshman class. Initially dubbed, Leaders of the New School, the class featured Lupe Fiasco, Saigon, Lil Boosie, Rich Boy, Gorilla Zoe, Young Dro, Papoose, Joell Ortiz, Crooked I and Plies. XXL looks backs at this group of MCs to see what they've been up to since appearing on the cover.— Jesse Gissen
After leaving Aftermath, the future looked bleak for Joell. But thanks to a new deal with Shady Records as a part of the four man lyrical tag-team Slaughterhouse, the Brooklyn MC is back on top.
Plies is another proud XXL success story. Since 2007, he sold over 1.2 million CDs, accumulated one platinum and two gold singles and was nominated for a Grammy. He’s currently working on his fifth LP, Purple Heart.
Undeniably the most prolific MC of his class, the Atlanta rapper not only dropped two more solo albums since 2007, he released 28 mixtapes in February of 2010 alone! Take that Lil B.
Years after a fallout with Atlantic, Sai finally released his shelved debut, The Greatest Story Never Told, independently in 2011. He’s since dropped a new mixtape, and has plans to drop another studio album this year.
Rich Boy hasn't been too active since his XXL cover. While he put out several mixtapes, and had a minor hit with 2008’s “Drop,” he has yet to drop a follow-up to his 2007 self-titled debut.
One of the most successful XXL Freshmen of all time, Lupe has amassed two gold albums and two platinum singles. Fun fact: he is the only alum to get a solo XXL cover.
Despite legal troubles—an eight year sentence on drug charges and a murder case that could result in the death penalty—Boosie managed to drop two LPs in 2009 and 2011, that both debuted in Billboard’s Top 20.
Although he has a ton of solo material, Crook’s making the most noise with Slaughterhouse. The boys (including Joe Budden, Royce Da 5’9” and fellow classmate Joell Ortiz) signed to Shady Records last January and have an album coming this May.
Though he’s been flying under the radar the past five years, Dro found success with his appearance on Yung L.A.’s 2009 hit, “Ain’t I,” which made it to No. 47 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. He’s finally slated to drop his sophomore album, P.O.L.O (Players Only Live Once) this year.