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2014 marks the seventh year in a row that XXL has rolled out its annual Freshman Class, acknowledging the top up-and-coming rappers in the game that particular year. With 62 Freshmen having graced the cover since 2008, there have been plenty of rappers who have gone on to superstardom, selling millions of records and grabbing Grammys and VMAs alongside the top names in the business, and others who haven't quite been able to capitalize on the momentum they'd built before becoming a Freshman.

This year, 12 more artists join the ranks of XXL's Freshmen alums, and they've got a big year ahead of themselves breaking into the mainstream and becoming household names in their own right. But the cover itself won't guarantee success; it's the hard work that goes into building on its momentum that can make or break a star. With that in mind, we asked 22 former XXL Freshmen to share any advice they have for this year's crop of talent. Keep it movin'. —Eric Diep, Miranda Johnson, Emmanuel C.M. and Dan Rys
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22 Former XXL Freshmen Have Advice For The 2014 Class

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The 100 Best Selfies By XXL Freshmen

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The 52 Best Albums By XXL Freshmen

xxl freshmen mixtapes

There’s a great deal of preparation that goes into choosing XXL Freshman. Research. Attending shows. Debates over whom are the hottest. However, sometimes the deciding factor is over who has the streets talking with their mixtapes.

Tapes are the best way to gauge how your music is doing. It’s a melting pot of your talents to showcase your progress, as well as who you align yourself with in the rap industry. A lot of the times, tapes that have an MC rapping over other people’s instrumentals catapulted them into the conversation of who’s next. Few of our Freshman picks like Jon Connor and Fashawn have made undeniable classics in the underground by jumping on beats rapped on by Jay Z and Nas.

There are plenty of tapes to choose from when highlighting the best mixtapes by XXL Freshman. Some rappers have year’s worth of mixtape before their debut albums, while others have made a dent in the rap game by having one extremely well received release. The formula for what a mixtape is these days keeps changing rapidly. To be clear though, Isaiah Rashad doesn’t have tape out, so he is excluded from this list. We still fuck with Cilvia Demo heavy.

So, with that said, from Lil Boosie to J. Cole, these are The 73 Best XXL Freshmen Mixtapes.—Complied By Eric Diep, Dan Rys, Marvin Jules And Jeffrey Whaley

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The 73 Best XXL Freshmen Mixtapes

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A Short History Of Diddy And Bad Boy’s Flops

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Hoop Session: Dorrough Music Vs. Gorilla Zoe (Webisode 1) [Video]

Dorrough Music goes one-on-one against Gorilla Zoe in a hoop session, one of several Dorrough plans on doing with various "victims"...

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Top 100 Greatest Songs By An XXL Freshman

To celebrate five years of Freshmen classes, XXL counts down the 100 Greatest Songs by an XXL Freshman...

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Where Are They Now?: 2007 Freshman Recap

XXL looks back at its first freshman class to see what the MCs have been up to since appearing on the cover five years ago...

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Why Stop Now? [April 2012 Magazine Excerpt]

It's the fifth anniversary of the XXL Freshman class. Here's a look at the alumni, by the numbers...

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Gucci Mane Speaks On Possibly Signing Yung Joc & Gorilla Zoe [Video]

During an interview with Hot 107.9, Gucci Mane discusses everything from his legal situation to advice from Master P, upcoming projects and more. Does Mr. Zone 6 plan on signing both Yung Joc and Gorilla Zoe to his label? Check out the interview below for his response...

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