Letter From the Editor-in-Chief: XXL‘s 2011 Freshman Class

I’m kind of glad this issue is finally over, believe it or not. I love it to death. It’s a great issue, and I stand behind everything in it and on it, but, goddamn, it’s been going on for months. Like, really. I take the blame. I made a mistake. On October 14, 2010, at 2:38 p.m., I tweeted the following: “freshmen cover is coming in a few months – who are people feeling?” Now it’s not that I (@VSattenXXL) have that many followers, but with all the retweeting and whatever else goes on, the next thing I know, I’m overwhelmed by tweets with suggestions for this year’s Freshman class. Then folks started to tweet other editors on the staff.

For literally the next four months, we were inundated with Freshman pitches everywhere we went. Honestly, most of the pitches were just absurd. At some point, I wanted to scream on people and ask them if they ever saw any of the past XXL Freshman picks and if they really felt their buzz or their artist’s buzz equaled any of the previous Freshmen’s. But then I would remember that we’re in the day of the Internet, where, if you rack up enough Facebook “Likes,” you think you’re the world’s biggest star, and I would angrily just let it go. Some people crossed the line. They didn’t mind reaching out on personal lines. Some actually threatened violence via Twitter if their artist wasn’t picked as a Freshman (that’s not cool).

Then came the selection process. Co–Deputy Editor Rob Markman added it up and figured out that we spent 10 hours as a staff debating about this year’s list. That doesn’t include all the individual research we did and discussions we had with industry buddies. One of the things we learned along the way was that, unlike previous years, there seemed to be an abundance of new talent to pick from in 2011. That’s what was making our discussions so difficult. And then somehow it all came together. Since our list was jam-packed with new talent, and there seemed to be a bunch of new relevant labels and industry movers and shakers in hip-hop, we realized that the recession in hip-hop seemed over, and there were way more new faces than ever making this music thrive.

Since it’s 2011 and there is so much new talent in hip-hop to watch out for, it made sense that we added one more Freshman to the list, for the first time ever. This year is a special occasion. That’s why we put all of the guys together on one cover. It was harder than ever to agree on how to split them up. In the long run, I think this is the best-looking Freshmen cover we have ever done. From top to bottom, the whole visual package of this year’s Freshman class is dope. Thank you to XXL Creative Director Paul Scirecalabrisotto, XXL Photo Director Rebecca Fain and photographer Travis Shinn for just killin’ it, really!

But the toughest thing about the Freshmen issue is not putting it all together, but keeping it all a secret. So many people wanna ruin it for us and in this day of Twitter, blogs and bitter rappers, it’s almost impossible to keep anything under wraps, but we managed to for longer than we expected.The whole thing has kinda killed us, but it’s been worth it. Thank you to the staff for working so hard to make the day and the issue a success.

There’s a lot in this issue besides just the Freshmen. You’ve got the Top Five New Hip-Hop–Soul Artists, the Top Five New Producers, the Top Five New Groups, and we added a new category, the Top Five New Labels/Companies. But still, we weren’t able to cover everyone we wanted to. Truthfully, we weren’t really sure how to cover Theophilus London, Outasight or Odd Future in our traditional outlet, so we’re exploring them more online, at XXLMag.com. And while we’re talking XXLMag.com, there you’ll find the video of the XXL Freshman freestyles, the Freshman roundtable with all 11 rappers, and three dope Freshman rap cyphers. (Also in the book we cover the phenomena behind all these rappers’ relatives who are rapping and the recent explosion of White rappers.)

Okay, the issue is almost over. Yeah, we still gotta promote it. And I’m sure folks are gonna ask us about Vado (that’s cool). But after that I need a serious vacation from Freshmen. ’Cause the past four months have been one hell of an experience. And I’m sure the haters are gonna be a trip also (that’s also cool). As I said, I stand by this issue wholeheartedly.

Peace, Love, and Weed,

Vanessa Satten

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  • jfl11

    thank the lord CyHi is on here… it’s him, Yela, & K.R.I.T. as the head of this weak class imo.

  • SuaveT

    There was a legitimate chance to make this the best Freshman class y’all have had so far. Leaving Stalley, Dom Kennedy, Chip Tha Ripper & Tyler, The Creator off in favor of YG, Meek Mill, Fred & Twist is an absolute shame. Yela, KRIT, Kendrick & CyHi saved face for y’all. Diggy, Lil B & Mac Miller are understandable because of their followings, but y’all truly dropped the ball not making the switch I stated at the top of this paragraph.

    • EReal


      No Chip the Ripper = FAIL.

  • violet

    If you like it,I love it..I think Stalley shoulda been on there.

  • bighum

    this class is some dooddooo….that kind that smells like dirty fish. first yall leave out stally and chip…C’ MON MAN !

    • EReal


      Lil B, lmao, that dude sucks so bad. Worse than Wayne and I thought I’d never say that. I can make up a LiL B song right now. Just using the back ground on the site.

      “Martin Lawrence, Martin Lawrence, game like Martin, bank like Lawrence! Martin Lawrence, Martin Lawrence, SWAG SWAG SWAG I FuKK Yo Chick! Martin Lawrence, SWAG SWAG SWAG! Lawrence like Martin, Martin like Lawrence! SWAG SWAG and I eat your food, I might eat some poop, crazy like Martin, Crazy like Lawrence SWAG SWAG!”

      • Cody Mac

        Ereal lmfao agreed

      • a.n.i.


      • http://www.IamKyLyntae.com Ky’Ly’ntae

        haha ball like martin hahaha #wooo

  • Nunya

    I don’t really know how to respond to this. It feels like an insult almost. Half of the list clearly shows its about who pays out what; and none whatsoever about skills.

    Everyone complained that Juiceman was on two covers withing 6 monts. How bout Yela two consecutive covers?

    I feel that XXL gave us the weakest list since they started. There is at least 20 other artists that WILL impact Hip Hop this year; and Lil B., Lil Twist, and Meek Mill are not amongst them. But damn, how can a truly powerful talent compete against the financial gain from the likes of Young Money and Maybach Music Group. And YG hasn’t done ANYTHING whatsoever besides one VERY SHITTY TRACK.

    This cover might be where XXL loses many of its elder followers and picks up all kinds of tweens.

    Shit, at least it wasn’t Willow, Jayden, Diggy, Twist and Chuckee…might as well be; smh.

    • Fieldy

      For real…this was a let down.

      And who is Vanessa tryin to convince with this editor’s note? No shit you approve…that’s like a rapper saying ‘Here’s my album…and I approve of all the content.’

      Win: Yelawolf, CyHi, K.R.I.T., Kendrick Lamar, Diggy Simmons

      EPIC FUCKIN FAIL: YG (wtf?), Meek Mill, Lil Twist (is he really gonna impact Hip Hop in a big way this year?), Lil B. (This is fuckin bullshit right here…and all of you at XXL know that shit.)

      I don’t even care who Fred is. Fuck; you guys missed so many that are promising for some dill holes…str8 up.

    • Tyrus

      I think it’s gay no love for the Southwest as well…all good keep on with ignoring R.D. Peoples, Reno Brown, Cooley Sha, and Jigsaw…another outlet will host them all, then you’ll wanna catch on; and they’ll say go fuck yourself.

      Fuck Odd Future…and half of this list. Tyrus Seacrest out.

    • Martinez505

      @Nunya – ROFL at the kid comment.

      @Tyrus – Those Southwest guys would’ve told XXL fuuuuuuuck no to this list; Reno Brown and R.D. Peoples. RDP already has issues with two of these of guys, and all of them are protective of who they associate with. XXL don’t know shit about the movement we got here because no one here is gonna pay for promotion.

      I dig K.R.I.T. and Yelawolf though.

  • T

    You guys were on point with your choices of Mac Miller, Diggy, K.R.I.T., CyHi, and Yelawolf. Then you lit up the crack pipe and chose the rest…. Then you added every OTHER drug into it and picked Lil fucking B. You guys were really stupid with that choice. So unprofessional.

  • Iloveu4real

    Freshman “10″ list are officially dead

  • rylo

    Honestly, I think this list is legitimate except Twist, Fred the Godknowswhatthefuckheis, and YG.

    As much as I hate to say it, Lil B has a cult following. Meek Mill’s new shit is 10 times better after signing to rozay and is only gonna get better.

    Chip, Stalley, and XV got snubbed.

  • David HussleSoft

    Although I do not agree with most of the freshman selections I do understand that this is a business and they have to sale magazines, which is becoming more difficult by the day.

    They seem to pick artist with the strongest fan base, these days name and face recognition sale more then good music its sad but true.

    I like Stalley, Chip, Laws, XV, Emilio, Laws, Outasight, and Danny Brown. But I am wise enough to realize that only about a half million real hip hop heads know whats up. I might be stretching with a half a mill.

    Most of the people posting will not by the magazine nor do they have a description, I know Im not buying it.

    Im just saying let them try to sale some magazines, editors have to eat too lol.

  • hoodman

    i think its a good pick you guys who say Fred the godson shouldn’t make it don’t live in NYC its just Fred and Vado thats got the streets on lock. Meek mill good pick as well but this about rappers about to blow they have there location on lock but not the whole country

    • RyLo

      yeah but a bunch of these guys have a buzz all over the country. XV from Kansas and he’s got a buzz on east coast…as he records in LA. Meek Mill already has a big buzz. Fred got the streets on lock, but in nyc. I guess its me cause I’ve never heard of him before, so I’m feelin he has no buzz at all.

      I bet Fred can’t have a legendary performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon either hahahaha

    • EReal

      I saw Frank on sucker free sunday spittin and that dude sucked.

  • alderman j

    Where is REEK THE VILLIAN????? SERIOUSLY!!!!! VADO turned it down….CAM turned it down, 3 mixtapes wit cam, one solo released by EI, and SPEAKING IN TUNGS went hard for the summer, dude is hardly a FRESHMAN anymore, CHECK FOR THAT JOINT WITH FRED THE GODSON AND VADO HEADBANGER……MEAN!!!

  • KILA

    Its good to see KRIT finally gettin his shine. Yela alright but it seems XXL AND Shade 45 tryna kreate a new Eminem…. I kould elaborate more on that but jus to speak on the kover and the line-up: Its Whatever smart move finally puttin KRIT down. My nigga finna kill the game. Mark My Words. Lil Twist & Mac Miller they KAN rap. And Lil B ummm… dont know but I have heard of him. Diggy yea thats obvious. And I dont know nor do I kare about the rest of them niggaz on the kover #EVL (I kracks myself up)


  • Melody

    I think that whoever is hating on Twist needa hop off! Twist i a great rapper . Half of these people are unknown. So you needa go some where with that . && Diggy also deserves to be on here. so FOH! smdh HATERS!

  • papabear42

    this list is trash compared to the past lists from XXL… lil b isn’t a freshman at all. He was rocking with the Pack before his whole base god thing took off.

  • Hip-Hop

    How the fuck is Los not on your list honestly what the fuck are you guys smoking Lil twist? wtf Lil b? wtf ya’ll stupid as fuck

  • Dipset


  • jim_rockets

    This list took hip hop from a “recession” to a depression

  • Haute

    Every year there are a few freshmen that fall off and every year a few take off and the rest are left anticipating a release this year there will be more that take off and more that fall off, a ton of these guys are well known in the past they were pulling them out of nowhere and a lot of em ended up being really good actually which is one thing I have missed about this class but then again cant blame some of these guys for becoming as successful as they are by the time xxl came knockin..I’m looking forward to hearing ALL, yes ALL of these dudes this year…some of ya’ll have some shit to prove

    • Haut

      Shout out to XV, Emilio Rojas, Laws, Stalley, MGK, Los, Chris Webby, Vado, Shawn Chrystopher, Jay Electronica, French Montana, Tyler The Creator, Dom Kennedy, STS, Chip Tha Ripper, Playboy Tre, Schoolboy Q, Smoke DZA, Theophilus London, Travis Porter, Tom Hardy and anybody else I may be forgetting that should have made the list but didn’t for whatever reason. Freshman 12 in 12



  • still best rite now!!

    im tryna be unbiased as possible, because there can be an argument made for everyone of your selections, except…

    YG? seriously? over Tyler or Theophilus London? you weren’t sure how to cover them? that’s your fkn JOB!!! you seriously are out of touch. way to be bland, un-innovative and disappointing XXL! ppl follwed this mag for years, but your credibility is at an all-time low. I can hear you now “we need balance” smh choose the top 10 hottest prospects flatout!

    Oddfuture dropped X-mas of 09′, you prolly thought Lil B was risky, he was the easiest pick! who actually did their homework? You take an L on this Vanessa.

  • black jesus

    thank you based god!

  • luch

    money talks… this whole shit has become a promo thing for labels with money tryna get people into their artists, XXL is just taking bribes so to speak

  • Don mcCaine

    this freshmen sh^t ain’t for the elders, it’s for the youngins to get behind the new crop…and lists almost never work, because there will be a rage about who was left off…I could say XV (like last year), Reks, Dom Kennedy, Stalley (even when he’s had exclusives on this very site) and Smoke DZA were left off, but maybe they didn’t want the slot…alotta “freshmen” don’t blow up once on the cover (see Donnis of ’09), like dudes get injured once on the Madden cover…French Montana was putting out mixtapes before he had his best buzz with Max B, so I don’t see why he should be included…and Fred The Godson has been on the majority of major rap websites for over a year, so I don’t see how cats are coming with the “who’s that?”. Vado already spring-boarded his buzz from last year’s omission with that show they had.

    • Don mcCaine

      correction: see Donnis ’10

      and KRIT was killing the circuit before he got signed last year, he belongs.

    • Q461

      Co-sign yo.

      It seems to me that they are either putting dudes on there that have been around too long and shouldn’t be considered freshman or they are forgetting dudes.. What constitutes a freshman anyway? a major album release? In that case Jay Electronica is a freshman. French Montana has been out since Max B was poppin and KRIT and Yelawolf dropped albums last year. Theres no consistency in these lists, and yup Cam didn’t want Vado on the list cause he’s been out same reason Drake and Minaj declined last year.

      For the record in the addition to the ones listed,I would have suggested:

      Smoke Dza
      Emilio Rojas
      John Conner
      Dom Kennedy

  • fazetwo

    XXL and you also Vanessa, fail at being right when it comes to these kinds of things.

  • Sadr22

    It don’t even matter who the fuck they put on that shit so why do people get so mad? Remember, this is a mainstream magazine that puts 50 cent on it’s cover every other week and had the fucking smoked out idea that soulja boy is cover material.

  • Payso

    Lil B and Lil Twist made it and Smoke Dza doesn’t??? Lil B made it based on what? I know it damn sure aint his rhyme ability. Lil Twist made it based on what? Him being a Young Money artist? If its not about Hip -Hop than what is it about? XXL is still a Hip-Hop magazine right? What exactly is the criteria based on to make the cover? Because looking at the names I’m confused to how you put Lil B and Fred The Godson on the same list. That alone lets me know those XXL offices are utterly confused on a few things. No Dom Kennedy either huh??? Damn shame!

  • aj

    can’t hate on anyone being chosen to be on the cover, they earned it with the buzz. but how can you keep dom off this list? i just wanna know what he’s not doing that these other dudes are… i get the feeling WEST$IDE II will make this look silly

  • TheReal2011FreshmanClass

    this is probably the weakest class that XXL has dropped so far; first of all who the hell is Fred the Godson and Lil B and Twist are garbage and dont belong anywhere near this list…..so on the behalf of XXL, I am releasing the true 2011 Freshman class in no particular order:
    1. XV
    2. Jay Electronica
    3. Mac Miller
    4. Cyhi Da Prince
    5. Yelawolf
    6. Kendrick Lamar
    7. Big K.R.I.T
    8. Dom Kennedy
    9. Stalley
    10. Chip Da Rippa
    11. Diggy Simmons

    C’mon really I was reading the letter from the editor and it took a whole team 10 hours to make the list, im 17 years old and it took me 5 minutes to make this list and im pretty sure almost everybody will agree with me that this list is way better than the one XXL released

  • twitch

    big krit and yela are the best on the list but they forgot the best thing coming this year Jellyroll

  • Potency

    Yall fucked up leaving out Chip, Stalley, and Dom Kennedy.
    Im not buying this…

  • SoulSmith

    This is obviously the WORST list yall came up with. YG (really), Lil Twist (No YM artists deserves anything 2 do with this list), Lil B (this guys a clown), Fred the Godson (nobody even knows who the hell this guy is), & Meek Mill (str8 garbage). You pick so many lame rappers in this list when this is suppose 2 b Hip-Hop. Those guys aren’t Hip-Hop, it’s ignorance. Only Mac Miller, Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T, Diggy, Yela, & CyHi deserve it. Then you left out rappers who EVERYONE agrees on like Dom Kennedy, Chip the Ripper, XV, Stalley, Laws & Emilio Rojas. Yall failed big time and you know it.

  • King

    They forgot Machine Gun Kelly

  • Mike

    Chip Da Rip….That is all

  • http://www.dabottomclothing.com CoruscatingMind

    Seriously no 50 Tyson?

  • Le’


  • http://facebook.com d-1c3

    THE REAL FRESHMEN!!!! NASTY NORTH search: d-ice. or d-1c3 on youtube.com

  • KLAP


  • Beyoung

    Where the fuck is CHIP ?

  • Stunt Star

    Salisbury, Maryland USA

  • innawind

    Twist and YG should be taken off and banned. I’m still on the fence about Fred da Godson. Idk who picks these freshman but their selections are iffy.

    umm what about…Dom Kennedy, Pac Div, Vado, Smoke DZA, Chip Tha Ripper, Stalley?

  • http://www.datpiff.com/Rickshon-The-Prodigal-Son-2-mixtape.152858.html Mackey


  • http://www.intoxmedia.com KearySo HighDef

    I Don’t Know bout Lil B, But the rest of the 2011 Freshmen Class got a good future ahead of them in Hip Hop music.

  • Dadinho

    There are obviously a lot of misses in this class. But like the article stated, there’s also a LOT of new talent in the game. The ’12 class will be really interesting (I’m personally looking for MGK, Childish Gambino, Chip the Rip and Hopsin).

    I gotta defend Lil B though–most of his mainstream stuff IS absolute crap, but listen to his Angels Exodus album and Illusions of Grandeur mixtape–he is actually a legitimate talent (not to mention marketing genius) and is getting love from every rapper he’s ever talked to in person… I think the “swag” crap is a false image he used to break into the game via Soulja Boy.

    As for Odd Future, Tyler, the Creator was offered a spot on the list but turned it down for his own reasons (he obviously has no need for any more hype). Not sure if anyone else in the Wolf Gang was offered a spot.



  • http://www.xxlfreshman.com j beast

    why isnt ab soul schoolboy q or cassey veggies one of the freshmans for class of 2012. yall already had two rappers from TDE which was jay rock and ab soul so why yall couldnt at least get schoolboy q. he is going to work right now. he has rappin with different artist like asap rocky, MOD Sun, the whole TDE sqaud,kid ink, terrace martin and aston mathew and more. schoolboyq got two new songs right out my hating joint and sacriligous. He is also about to release a new album. schoolboy q also raps in a group called black hippy. he worked over these pass 2 years. come on im 15 and i know this list of rappers of 2012 is messed up at least 25 percent of those rappers shouldnt be on their. noboy doesnt even know 90 percent of those rappers on that list. please makes some changes.

    • http://www.xxlfreshman.com j beast

      first letter was typo. DONT READ THE FIRST LETTER TYPO!!!
      why isnt ab soul schoolboy q or cassey veggies one of the freshmans for class of 2012. yall already had two rappers from TDE which was jay rock and kendrick lamar. so why yall couldnt at least get schoolboy q. he is going to work right now. he has rappin with different artist like asap rocky, MOD Sun, the whole TDE sqaud,kid ink, terrace martin and aston mathew and more. schoolboyq got two new songs right out my hating joint and sacriligous. He is also about to release a new album. schoolboy q also raps in a group called black hippy. he worked over these pass 2 years. come on im 15 and i know this list of rappers of 2012 is messed up at least 25 percent of those rappers shouldnt be on their. noboy doesnt even know 90 percent of those rappers on that list. please makes some changes.

  • ROBB

    how do i get my music heard by the editor…keep it grand fuk 100

  • undergroundking


  • the white wiz kahlifa

    omg i ha2 leave a msg after seeing that some one nos about the firecity kidd af-toddy,,,,,datpiff af-toddy the f-files 2 go get it //////////best xxl freshman cats,,nipsey hussle,fashawn….next up af-toddy..& asap rockey///.now thata b dope…im out…xxl mag fan 4 life

  • joseflockasmith

    waka flocka james sure bringing gangster back. lil b keeping hip hop alive. lil b remind me of a young nas. waka reminds me of a young ludacris. oj the juice man please feed ur fans were dyin for new music. FREEE BOOISE PLEASE DONT BE MEST UP

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