Today (June 16), XXL officially unveiled the 2021 XXL First year class.
After launching with artists like Plies and Boosie BadAzz in 2007, XXL has kept the tradition going for over a decade, ushering in some of hip-hop’s most dynamic and iconic artists through 14 magazine covers.
In 2010, a bubbling J. Cole was appointed 2010 XXL Freshman as he sought to capitalize on his rapidly growing fan base, Roc Nation support and the success of his 2009 mixtape, Warming up, to superstar status. His accomplishments since then tell a story hardly anyone could have predicted, as he arguably went on to become one of the world’s greatest artists, full concert seats on tour, and, as you may have heard, several albums platinum without characteristics.
In 2011, flourishing names like Kendrick Lamar and Mac Miller rose to prominence after being inducted into the 2011 XXL First year class. K. Dot became a Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper that many consider to be the best in the world. Before his tragic death at the age of 26 last SeptemberMac had solidified himself as a respected craftsman who became a fan favorite while constantly evolving his sound and earning the respect of artists from all corners of the music world.
In the years since, Freshman Lists have helped showcase future stars like ScHoolboy Q (2013), Chance the Rapper (2014), Lil Uzi Vert (2016) and XXXTentación (2017). The lists go on and on. There are 147 freshman artists in total.
Today, XXL take a look at each of the XXL Freshmen of the past and present. From underground favorites to era-defining lyricists to the genre’s fluid commercial dynamos, they’re all there. Take a look at each freshman to date in the gallery below.