This year, in addition to the XXL staff choosing nine of the cover’s 10 artists, the fans were able to decide who would be the final lyricist chosen.
On the webpage featuring this year’s “class”, the magazine wrote, “in the past five years that XXL has been picking Freshman classes, never once has making the list been easy. This year included. Similar to 2011, the hype around the Freshmen Class has continued to grow by leaps and bounds, surprising even us with its popularity. For this class the buzz began earlier than ever, four months before the cover was even shot. And it seemed like everyone had a list. From subdued music fans to diehard rap junkies, from Twitter stalkers to industry heavies and featherweights, folks wanted their list to be the XXL list. We listened, asked opinions, took notes.”
In 2011, artists Meek Mill, Big K.R.I.T., CyHi Da Prynce, Mac Miller, Yelawolf, Kendrick Lamar, Diggy Simmons, Fred the Godson, Lil Twist, and YG were selected. 2010′s list saw J. Cole, Pill, Wiz Khalifa, Freddie Gibbs, Big Sean, Donnis, Fashawn, OJ Da Juiceman, Nipsey Hussle, and Jay Rock land on the cover.
XXL has announced that exclusive content from the “Freshmen Class” will be released beginning on Monday, March 5.