Keeping a secret in hip-hop is nearly impossible these days. Between blabbermouths from the planning inner circle and bloggers dying to get any possible gossip (made-up or leaked) posted on their sites ASAP, it’s a huge fight to keep a lid on things. For XXL’s third Freshman Class, folks online made fake lists and circulated them on the Net. Wannabe Freshmen created rumors that they were picked for the list,
before it was even confirmed to exist. They hung around like vultures just to leak names, then dissed us on Twitter and had their followers retweet their disses. How old are we?

I don’t get anybody trying to ruin something other people are working hard on. It’s not really the best way to make friends, but whatever. I guess this is all a good thing. Being part of the XXL Freshman Class means something significant, I see, based on the response, and that’s beautiful. We pride ourselves on our work, our magazine, our Web site and the picks for our Freshmen lists. And this year’s 10 Freshmen for ’10 is a group we stand by. We are prepared for any flak. Yeah, there aren’t any New York artists on the list, and that’s gonna piss some of you (purists) off, but we hope it inspires a few of the artists from the Rotten Apple, the only place I’ve ever lived and known, for next year. We also know there might be one or two new MCs out there making serious noise who aren’t part of this cover. (I see the blog posts and comments now, so I’m answering here.) That was their decision not to be a part of it, and that’s all good. They don’t feel like Freshmen. Doesn’t mean I will tell you who wouldn’t have made the list if those one or two people didn’t say no. Because we believe that these are 10 MCs with a future to watch out for.

This was the best Freshmen gathering to date. Our photo director, Rebecca Fain,
and creative director, Davina Lennard, did a great job making the shoot run like a well-oiled machine, while having everyone feel comfortable and helping squeeze every bit of visual content out of the day. Video director Travis Satten and crew killed it with the clips of the Freshmen freestyles, which they knocked out expertly, with limited resources and time, while fashion coordinators Coffey, Smiley and fashion assistant Neli Rodriguez made the clothing area look kind of like a store, with all the newest, hottest items. The staff covered all the bases, got every interview done, made a strong team (definitely drank a few Heinekens and ate some BBQ), and held back giggles when OJ Da Juiceman was talking really fast in his Atlanta-Boulder Creek language at one point during the roundtable. I applaud them. Except for the folks off to the side of the shoot. Now, you guys, I saw. MTV2/Sucker Free also joined us for the day and were eventually the first to break the official 10 Freshmen for ’10 list. Always go to true news sources for the real info, folks. We’re all trusted for a reason. The rest should be mostly used for entertainment, speculation and to get that hater side of you out, which so many of you seem to be hiding.

I have no favorites on this year’s list. It’s still too soon to like one or two way more than the rest. Some, their skills and styles are more honed than others’. Some have a lot to prove, but I know they can work, based on their lane and what hip-hop likes right now. All I know is that Nipsey Hu$$le really reminds me of Snoop Dogg in person. (And since I’m 5-foot-1, he’s about as tall as Snoop to me.) I think maybe he’s actually the child of Snoop and some White lady. It’s possible, right? Is that fucked up to say? Regardless, he’s got some great hair and is pretty cool. As was everyone else, really.

Predicting the future is hard, but we don’t care. We took a shot and believe in the 10 guys pictured on the cover of this month’s issue. Support hip-hop and new artists. Give them all a fair listen and open your minds to some new stuff, if you haven’t heard some of these artists yet. You know they’re touring (that’s one of the major things artists have left), so they’ll be live in a town near you soon enough. Or go to…

Puff, puff, no passing (get your own),

Vanessa Satten