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xxl freshmen best experiences
The XXL Freshmen photo shoot is done all in one long, exhausting, grueling day, where each of the Freshmen delivers their freestyles and cyphers, conducts multiple interviews, and does their individual photo shoots before everyone comes together for the final cover shot. And for our 62 former Freshmen—as well as our 12 new artists on the cover this year—it can be the longest, yet most rewarding, day of their career to that point. Last week XXL asked 22 former Freshmen for advice that they could give to the current XXL Freshmen, and today we've asked 27 of our former cover stars to share the best moments of their experience at the cover shoot and as a Freshman overall. —As Told To Eric Diep, Miranda Johnson, Emmanuel C.M. and Dan Rys

27 Former XXL Freshmen Name The Best Moments From Their Freshmen Experience

xxl freshmen covers
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

22 Former XXL Freshmen Have Advice For The 2014 Class

nipsey hussle blu mac miller bbq songs
It's Thursday, which means it's practically already the 4th of July. Whatever plans you've got going on, the next three days officially mark the start of the best part of summer. That means backyard hangouts, weekend block parties and all other wild antics that crop up when the weather gets warm will feature some of your favorite dishes. On the flip side, if you are hosting any one of those public gatherings, let’s hope you have all the necessary tunes to create the perfect playlist. For some suggestions, we asked 14 rappers to give us their favorite songs to play at a BBQ. From known classics like "Summertime" to newer joints like "Move That Dope," here are 21 tracks from 14 rappers that are ideal for an outdoor party. Time to sit back and unwind. —XXL Staff

14 Rappers Name Their Favorite Summer BBQ Songs

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The 100 Best Selfies By XXL Freshmen

papoose remy ma

Papoose Says Remy Ma Is In Great Spirits Ahead Of Her Release From Prison

Last week, Papoose celebrated his sixth wedding anniversary with Remy Ma, and he spoke to XXL about Remy's mindset before her release this year, which Pap mentioned on Instagram the other day would come on July 31 after more than six years behind bars...

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kanye west runaway amber rose
From Diddy's "I Need A Girl" to Kanye's "White Dress," hip-hop has plenty of love songs written for specific significant others. Whether rappers are not-so-secretly reflecting on past marriages or yearning for a fling that finished all too quickly, if known or not, many top hits in hip-hop have an underlying reason as to why they happen to connect with listeners so well—fans can identify with both sides.

More recent examples of the semi-concealed affection cuts are Big Sean's "Ashley," a love song from his Hall Of Fame album he penned for his high school sweetheart after they parted ways last year, and even Jhene Aiko's "The Worst," which is rumored to be about a brief relationship the singer held with Drake. Nas is a relatively prolific member of this list as well, having written songs—"Getting Married" and "Bye Baby" being the two most obvious—about the many developments in his relationship with Kelis. And, of course, there's Kanye West, who dedicated an entire album to heartbreak and has always been on the more emotional side of things, lyrically.

XXL has compiled 20 hip-hop songs written about the specific relationships in each rapper's lives, from Lauryn Hill's many shots at Wyclef Jean to Papoose's dedication to his locked up wife Remy Ma. —Miranda Johnson, Layne Weiss and Dan Rys

20 Hip-Hop Songs About Specific Relationships


Best Hip-Hop Instagrams Of The Day

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XXL Freshmen 2014 featured image

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


The 73 Best XXL Freshmen Mixtapes

magic johnson michael jordan
Last night, Magic Johnson was interviewed by CNN regarding the claims made against him by the Los Angeles Clippers' disgraced owner Donald Sterling. While the reaction to Sterling's remarks—wherein he said Johnson should be "ashamed" for having AIDS, which he does not have—was vitriolic, it's far from the first time the Los Angeles Lakers legend has been in the headlines. As one of the greatest NBA players of all time—and an ambassador for a disease, HIV, that has had the entire world on edge for decades—he's gotten name-checked in a multitude of hip-hop tracks. With that in mind, XXL has compiled 36 hip-hop songs that reference Magic Johnson. —Dan Rys

36 Hip-Hop Songs That Name Drop Magic Johnson

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