They were merely freshmen
When there wasn't a Freshman 10 issue of XXL this past fall, I thought they might have done away with the idea of spotlighting up and coming artists on the cover, embarrassed at the clusterfuck the '09 class had become, but it could just be that it took a few more months to come up with a list of 10 artists worth spotlighting. I've hardly so much as heard of half of the artists on this year's list, and it's obviously not because XXL didn't have time to conduct a proper search.
I'm sure part of the problem is that XXL didn't want too many hipster rappers on this year's list. Last year's list, as I recall, was pretty much all hipster rappers, except for Ace Hood - and even he could be viewed as primarily an Internets phenomenon, in the sense that his career doesn't really exist outside of the context of jokes about it on Twitter.
#uknowuacehoodwhen the highlight of your career is the fact that a song by Shyne was deemed not good enough to be on an album by DJ Khaled, which probably has an Ace Hood song on it.
The only member of this year's class who could be viewed as a hipster rapper is Wiz Khalifa, who doesn't look particularly, erm, hip on the cover, but I've seen pictures of him in clothes that look like they might have come from Hot Topic. They sell guys clothes at Hot Topic, right? Regardless, it looks like he might be trying to switch up his image. He's got more tattoos than Lil Wayne and Baby combined, despite his Kid Cudi-esque physique (no homo), but he's got on a black long sleeve shirt that covers up all but the ones on his neck. And a chain with a huge P medallion. I'm pretty sure people who shop at Hot Topic don't wear chains - unless it's to signal an interest in BDSM to the other kids at your middle school.
I know Wiz Khalifa had a deal with Wonder Bros. that didn't end up going anywhere. From what I understand, from the veritable fuckton of emails I've received from his handlers, he had a song that actually got some play in the club, but either there was never an album recorded in time to capitalize on it, or maybe there was, but the TIs didn't feel like it was worth being released. Maybe the TIs saw what happened with Asher Roth, Wale, Charles Hamilton, so on and so forth and were like, fuck that shit! If that's the case, you can see why he might want to put a shirt on and order a chain from out the back of XXL, in the section with the pr0n ads, across from the part where they used to mention Def Jux albums, however briefly. Now, if he could only come up with another song people give a shit about.
At the very least, it shouldn't be too difficult for him to come up with a song more popular than anything last year's class came up with. Indeed, this year's class could end up being more successful than last year's much ballyhooed class, if only because last year's class set the bar so low. Even though there's hardly anyone in this year's class I could pick out of a lineup, other than Nipsey Hu$$le, who has a very distinct look - like a cross between Prodigy from Mobb Deep and a cholo. As the late great Noz pointed out in his post in which he seriously discussed each individual artist's career prospects, as if anyone gives a shit, OJ Da Juiceman has now been on the cover of XXL twice. In the same year, even. They don't even put Jay-Z on the cover more than once a year. Unless someone from the first freshman class - of which I can remember hardly anyone, even though I may have been working here at the time - has since made the cover, OJ Da Juiceman might be the only freshman to ever appear on more than one cover of XXL, as if he were Lil Wayne.
Drake is probably the only new guy from the past year or so that I could imagine on the cover of XXL on his own (or in a sweaty, post-coital embrace with Baby, as the case may be), but he didn't want to be a member of this year's freshman class. There was a story over at MTV News a few weeks ago in which one of the guys from the Mail Room asked XXL's editor in chief whether Drake would be a member of this year's class, and she wouldn't confirm or deny. As if there's 10 other up and coming rappers they'd pick before Drake, like they did last year. Then Drake revealed, in some video on YouTube, that he and Nicki Minaj opted out of this year's class, because they felt like they were too good for the Freshman 10 at this point (though Nicki Minaj was obviously not too good for the freshman 15 - zing!), and clearly he's still salty about not being included in last year's class, even though it may have been career suicide. Damn.
It must be tough, for the other guys on the list, to hear that other people turned down being on the same list, because they felt like it was beneath them. I would never receive an award for anything (I've never been so much as nominated for one of those black blog awards), but if someone were to give me an award for the important work I do scouring the Internets for especially breathtaking pictures of women, and I found out that they were originally gonna give the award to someone else, but he thought he was too good for it, I'd definitely rack my brain for something insensitive to say about him. Drake must not have been concerned that anyone from this year's class would go at him for belittling what's almost certainly their lives' crowning achievements. Even though there's plenty of material on the Internets with which to make fun of Drake, including that picture of him in a wheelchair, and that video of his grandma spitting a hot 16. It just goes to show you how soulless and corporate this whole endeavor is. Though I guess there were a couple of people who benefited from Drake and Nicki Minaj having standards for themselves. I wonder who they were. One of them was probably Donnis, right? Who the fuck is Donnis?