Hip-hop is heading back outside this summer, slowly but surely. As masks, social distancing and vaccines are the norm these days, most people seem to be getting back to their regularly scheduled programming. The 2021 XXL Freshman Class is featured in our annual summer issue after COVID-19 set us back a few months in 2020.

This year, the staff did record numbers of Zoom meetings from January to March to meet and greet artists, listen to new music and hear the rollout plans for roughly 100 Freshman prospects, which ultimately became the 10th spot selections. After much debate, conversations with industry peers and talks with anyone who felt compelled to share a Freshman list they created, 12 artists made the final cut—but one pulled out of the class the day before the shoot.

The decision is never an easy one. Record labels have revved up the signings, making the pool of rappers to choose from that more difficult. But true talent rises to the top, and the 2021 XXL Freshman Class has plenty of it.

Hip-hop is represented across many regions this year. 42 Dugg serves up his raps in Detroit, Flo Milli calls home to Mobile, Ala., Morray’s melodies are crafted in Fayetteville, N.C., Pooh Shiesty hails from Memphis, Lakeyah came up in Milwaukee, Coi Leray puts on for both North Jersey and Boston, Toosii holds it down for both Raleigh, N.C. and Syracuse, N.Y., Blxst is a proud South Central, L.A. native, Rubi Rose shows love to Lexington, Ky., Iann Dior’s roots are in both Arecibo, Puerto Rico and Corpus Christi, Texas, and DDG, who is this year’s fan-voted Freshman 10th spot winner, reps Pontiac, Mich.

Over the next month, we will be releasing freestyles, cyphers, interviews and more. Multiplatinum-selling producer Nick Mira is the music curator crafting beats alongside some of the Internet Money team. Look out for their production in the much-anticipated cyphers and all video content.

The Freshman issue hits stands everywhere on July 7 and includes additional interviews with Moneybagg Yo, Cordae, Ski Mask The Slump God, Lil Tecca, music video director Cole Bennett, Kash Doll, Jack Harlow, Conway The Machine, 10 of the most in-demand hip-hop jewelers in the business, singer Mahalia, Latin trap-pop singer Karol G, producer Jake One, engineer Todd Hurtt and music executive Shawn “Tubby” Holiday.

Now, it’s time to celebrate the 2021 XXL Freshman Class, who are shooting for the moon and aiming for the stars. Congratulations 42 Dugg, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli, Morray, Rubi Rose, Blxst, Toosii, Lakeyah and DDG.

2021 XXL Freshman Class
Travis Shinn for XXL

See the 2021 XXL Freshman Class

Welcome 42 DuggIann DiorCoi LerayPooh ShiestyFlo MilliMorrayRubi RoseBlxstToosiiLakeyah and DDG to the 2021 XXL Freshman Class.

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