After months of planning and execution, the 2018 XXL Freshman Class has been revealed this week. This year’s crop of talent marks the 11th annual Freshman class, following the likes of Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Chance The Rapper, Kid Cudi and many more.

The 2018 XXL Freshman Class reps a variety of places, including the South and overseas. The state of Florida is represented, with both Lil Pump and Smokepurpp hailing from Miami, Ski Mask The Slump God from Fort Lauderdale and Wifisfuneral holding it down for West Palm Beach. The South proves it remains a prominent hip-hop hub with J.I.D representing for Atlanta, YBN Nahmir doing his thing for Birmingham, Ala., and BlocBoy JB from Memphis. Trippie Redd shows out for Canton, Ohio, and the 2018 Freshman Class also includes Stefflon Don flying in to rep London, England.

The 10th Spot winner Lil Skies unfortunately decided a few days before the shoot not to participate, so the Freshman who is chosen by the fans wasn’t represented this year.

Here, XXL Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten and Associate Editor Roger Krastz give a behind-the-scenes look at what went down at the shoot on April 23. The day saw all nine artists come together at Dune Studios in Brooklyn to deliver their individual freestyles, profile interviews, group cyphers and, finally, the magazine cover shoot. Artists who had never met each other before shook hands for the first time, while old friends like Smokepurpp and Lil Pump got to be there for each other during a huge day in their respective careers.

Super producer Sonny Digital returned this year to provide beats for the cyphers and brought with him the signature sound that gave artists all the ammunition they needed to deliver some rapid-fire rhymes.

Each year, XXL works tirelessly to highlight the artists that accurately represent the direction hip-hop is moving in and to shine a spotlight on those we believe define the culture. Every artist brings something special to the table and holds a passionate dedication to their fan bases—something they all illustrate during the XXL Freshman process.

The 2018 XXL Freshman issue officially hits newsstands July 3 while the annual Freshman show will take place in New York on July 11 and in Los Angeles on July 19.

Congratulations to the 2018 XXL Freshman Class: Ski Mask The Slump God, Lil Pump, Smokepurpp, J.I.D, Stefflon Don, BlocBoy JB, YBN Nahmir, Wifisfuneral and Trippie Redd. The class with clout.

See Photos From the 2018 XXL Freshman Class Cover Shoot

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