XXL (magazine)

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XXL magazine.png
FoundersAidan James Michael Luna, O'Neal Anthony Josiah, and Xzander B.
Staff writersAyabulela Tshofela
CategoriesMusic magazine
PublisherTownsquare Media
CountryUnited States
Based inNew York City

XXL is an American hip hop magazine, published by Townsquare Media, founded in 1997.


In August 1997,[1] Harris Publications released the first issue of XXL. It featured rappers Jay-Z and Master P on a double cover.[2] In December 2006, XXL took over the struggling hip-hop producer and DJ magazine Scratch (another publication owned by Harris Publications), re-branding it as XXL Presents Scratch Magazine. However Scratch shut down less than a year later in September 2007.

Other titles with limited runs have been launched under the XXL brand, including Hip-Hop Soul, Eye Candy and Shade45. XXL has released many other special projects including tour programs, mixtapes and exclusive DVDs. XXL also maintains a popular website, which provides daily hip hop news, original content and content from the magazine.[3]

In 2014, Townsquare Media acquired XXL,[4] King and Antenna from Harris Publications.

On October 14, 2014, Townsquare announced it would continue print publication of XXL.[5] In December 2014 the company reported that the magazine would be published on a monthly basis.[4]

Past editors[edit]

The magazine's past editors include Reginald C. Dennis (formerly of The Source), Sheena Lester (former editor-in-chief of RapPages and Vibe music editor), Elliott Wilson (formerly of The Beat-Down Newspaper, ego trip and The Source, currently locked in at #7 slot on The Source's Digital 30 list.)[6][7] and Datwon Thomas (former editor-in-chief of King).

In May 2009, Datwon Thomas resigned from XXL and executive editor Vanessa Satten, who had been with XXL since 1998, was named the new Editor-in-Chief.[8]

Special releases[edit]

Magazine cover of XXL Presents Shade 45

In August 2005, Eminem and XXL teamed up to release a special issue titled XXL Presents Shade 45, designed to simultaneously give maximum exposure to his radio station Shade 45, the station's associated radio DJs, the Shady Records label as a whole, and G-Unit Records' artists. XXL executive publisher Jonathan Rheingold stated that typically magazines based around particular artists were not favorable, but "since Shade 45 is a truly authentic and uncensored rap radio channel, the marriage with the XXL brand made sense," feeling that it would interest rap fans.[9]

In November 2008, XXL released XXL Raps Volume 1, which included music from 50 Cent, G-Unit, Common, Jim Jones, & Fabolous.[10]

In September 2006, XXL put a special 90-minute DVD called XXL DVD Magazine Vol. 1, which featured exclusive interviews and content with big-name rappers such as 50 Cent, Ice Cube, Fat Joe, Paul Wall, & Mike Jones.[11]

On August 20, 2013, XXL marked its sixteenth anniversary by releasing its 150th issue, which featured the first solo cover on the magazine from Drake, along with rappers such as Kendrick Lamar and B.o.B reviewing classic albums.[2]

Annual Freshman Class list[edit]

Beginning in 2007 (skipping 2008),[12] XXL releases its annual "Freshman Class" list. The issue features ten artists-to-watch, all appearing on the cover of the magazine. The list has a history of showcasing unknown/underground rappers, as well as artists considered to be on the rise. The list creates significant marketing buzz among listeners and artists alike, and is credited for giving many artists their first taste of fame.[13][14][15]

The 10th spot winners are highlighted in bold.

Year Freshmen
2007[a] Saigon, Plies, Rich Boy, Gorilla Zoe, Joell Ortiz, Lupe Fiasco, Lil Boosie, Crooked I, Papoose and Young Dro.[16]
2009[a] Wale, B.o.B, Charles Hamilton, Asher Roth, Cory Gunz, Blu, Mickey Factz, Ace Hood, Currensy and Kid Cudi.[17]
2010[a] J. Cole, Pill, Nipsey Hussle, Freddie Gibbs, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, OJ da Juiceman, Jay Rock, Fashawn and Donnis.[18]
2011[a] Meek Mill, Big K.R.I.T., Cyhi the Prynce, Lil Twist, Yelawolf, Fred the Godson, Mac Miller, YG, Lil B, Kendrick Lamar and Diggy Simmons.[19]
2012 Future, Kid Ink, Danny Brown, French Montana, Macklemore, Don Trip, Machine Gun Kelly, Hopsin, Iggy Azalea and Roscoe Dash.[20]
2013 Schoolboy Q, Trinidad James, Joey Bada$$, Ab-Soul, Logic, Action Bronson, Kirko Bangz, Travis Scott, Dizzy Wright, Angel Haze and Chief Keef.[21][22]
2014 Chance The Rapper, Rich Homie Quan, Isaiah Rashad, Ty Dolla Sign, Lil Durk, Kevin Gates, Troy Ave, Vic Mensa, Jon Connor, Lil Bibby, Jarren Benton and August Alsina.[23]
2015 Fetty Wap, Dej Loaf, Raury, Kidd Kidd, OG Maco, Shy Glizzy, K Camp, Vince Staples, Tink and GoldLink.[24]
2016 Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, Kodak Black, Denzel Curry, G Herbo, Dave East, Lil Dicky, Anderson Paak, Desiigner and 21 Savage.[25]
2017 Kamaiyah, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, PnB Rock, Playboi Carti, Aminé, Kap G, Kyle, Ugly God, MadeinTYO and XXXTentacion.[26]
2018[b] Ski Mask the Slump God, Lil Pump, Smokepurpp, JID, Stefflon Don, BlocBoy JB, YBN Nahmir, Wifisfuneral and Trippie Redd.[29][30]
2019 Comethazine, Tierra Whack, DaBaby, Lil Mosey, Roddy Ricch, Cordae, YK Osiris, Rico Nasty, Gunna, Blueface, and Megan Thee Stallion.[31]
2020[c] Polo G, Chika, NLE Choppa, Jack Harlow, Lil Keed, Lil Tjay, Fivio Foreign, Calboy, Rod Wave, Baby Keem, 24kGoldn and Latto.[34]
2021 42 Dugg, Flo Milli, Morray, Pooh Shiesty, Lakeyah, Coi Leray, Toosii, Blxst, DDG, Rubi Rose, and Iann Dior.[35]
2022 Nardo Wick, SoFaygo, Babyface Ray, Big Scarr, Big30, Kali, KenTheMan, Cochise, KayCyy, Doechii, Saucy Santana, and BabyTron.[36]


  1. ^ a b c d From 2007 to 2011, there was no such thing as a 10th spot winner.
  2. ^ In 2018, there was not a 10th spot pick as Lil Skies and his replacement, Rich the Kid both declined the list.[27][28]
  3. ^ In 2020, Pop Smoke was the first freshman selected for the list, but died before attending the photoshoot.[32][33]

Additions to the list[edit]

Occasionally, the Freshman Class list may contain extra additions to include more rappers. The 2011, 2013, 2019 and 2021 Freshman Class lists, for example, had 11 rappers. In the case for the 2013 list, XXL added an honorary extra spot for Chicago rapper Chief Keef due to the artist being in a six-day jail stint and therefore being unable to attend the photo shoot in New York City.[21] In 2014, 2020 and 2022 the Freshman Class lists included 12 rappers.

Removals from the list[edit]

Year Artist(s) Reason for removal Ref.
2010 Drake Respectfully declined and felt they were chosen too late in their respective careers. [37]
Nicki Minaj
Michael Barber Respectfully declined.
2011 Vado Respectfully declined and felt he was chosen too late in his career.
Tyler, the Creator Respectfully declined.
2012 ASAP Rocky Respectfully declined. Schedule was too slim due to touring.
2014 Young Thug XXL claims he never showed up to the photoshoot.
2015 ILoveMakonnen Not responsive to XXL.
2016 Tory Lanez Declined as he believed he was chosen too late in his respective career.
Post Malone Stated he was tired and was not up to flying to New York for the photoshoot. XXL editor-in-chief Vanessa Satten claimed Post's publicist stated that Post did not want to be boxed in as a hip hop artist.
2017 Young M.A Felt beyond the list. She asked to have a solo cover but they disagreed and said that she needed more attention to her name before that could happen. [38]
YFN Lucci YFN Lucci initially refused to play music for XXL. He later changed his mind days before the shoot but it was too late.
Cardi B XXL was not sure if Cardi had a better television career or rap career at the time and felt she was leaning more towards television.
Famous Dex XXL stood away from adding Famous Dex after there was evidence shown that he beat up his girlfriend.

They further spoke on XXXTentacion's addition to the 2017 list (as it was controversial), saying that although he was accused of beating up his ex-girlfriend, the incident was not caught on camera, XXXTentacion had not been found guilty, and that he was arguably having a major influence on his generation.

2018 Lil Skies On Instagram Live, he explained that he respectfully declined due to XXL apparently telling him that he would be the 10th Spot Freshman before the voting process even began. Although he respected some decisions made on the 2018 list, he claims that the list was mostly rigged. [27]
Rich the Kid He "happily declined" after hearing that the reason XXL asked him to be on it was because Lil Skies declined the offer. [28]
2019 Juice Wrld Respectfully declined. [40]
Benny the Butcher He was asked by Jay-Z to not accept because Jay thought declining would be for the better. [41]
2020 Pop Smoke Pop Smoke agreed to be on the cover but he died before he could attend the shoot. XXL did everything to try and add him on the cover to honor him, but Pop Smoke's team asked them not to do so. Although XXL was not able to add him on the cover, they were able to add an unreleased interview to honor him in the issue. [34][32]
Don Toliver Don Toliver only wanted to be on the cover and did not want to take part in other aspects of the list, such as the freestyles and cyphers. [42]
Lil Tecca Respectfully declined.
2021 $not Respectfully declined because he felt like other artists needed it more. [43]
Kenny Mason Respectfully declined.
2022 Ken Carson Declined the list because Destroy Lonely could not be added.
Yeat Respectfully declined. [44]


  1. ^ "Potential Markets". Freelance Writing. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Drake on the Cover Of XXL's 150th Issue". XXL mag. August 2013. Archived from the original on September 15, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  3. ^ "Hip-Hop News, Rap Music". XXL. Archived from the original on October 15, 2014. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Marc Schneider (December 18, 2014). "XXL Magazine to Print Quarterly Issues". Billboard. Archived from the original on August 22, 2015. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  5. ^ Rob Markman (October 14, 2014). "Exclusive: XXL Magazine Isn't Going Out Of Print". MTV News. Archived from the original on October 16, 2014. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
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  7. ^ Wolfe, Roman: "XXL Magazine Fires EIC Elliott Wilson", AllHipHop, 2008. "XXL Magazine Fires EIC Elliott Wilson". Archived from the original on January 9, 2008. Retrieved January 8, 2008. Retrieved January 8, 2007.
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  10. ^ "XXL Raps, Vol. 1: Music". Amazon. Archived from the original on December 7, 2007. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
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  15. ^ "2011 XXL Freshmen class". XXL. July 14, 2011. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
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  17. ^ "Where Are They Now?: 2009 Freshman Recap - XXL". XXL. March 24, 2011. Archived from the original on January 4, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
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  19. ^ "XXL Presents 2011's Freshman Class - XXL". XXL. February 22, 2011. Archived from the original on January 22, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  20. ^ JP DelaCuesta (February 28, 2012). "XXL Reveals Cover For Its 2012 "Freshmen Class"". AllHipHop.com. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  21. ^ a b "2013 XXL Freshman Issue Explained: Why Logic? Where's Chief Keef?". MTV News. Archived from the original on September 10, 2019. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  22. ^ "XXL Freshman Class 2013 Cover Revealed - Page 2 of 2 - XXL". XXL. March 27, 2013. Archived from the original on May 14, 2017. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  23. ^ "XXL Freshman 2014 Cover and 10 Spot Revealed". XXL. May 5, 2014. Archived from the original on October 19, 2017. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  24. ^ "The Wait Is Over: Here Is the 2015 XXL Freshman Class". XXL. June 3, 2015. Archived from the original on May 18, 2020. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  25. ^ "It's Here: The 2016 XXL Freshman Class". XXL. June 13, 2016. Archived from the original on May 29, 2020. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
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  32. ^ a b "Pop Smoke on Brooklyn Drill, New York Hip-Hop in Final Interview". XXL. September 3, 2020. Archived from the original on September 15, 2020. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
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  36. ^ X. X. L. Staff. "2022 XXL Freshman Class Revealed". XXL Mag. Retrieved 2022-06-14.
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  38. ^ a b Kyles, Yohance (15 June 2017). "XXL Editor Explains Cardi B, Young M.A, YFN Lucci & Famous Dex Omissions From 2017 Freshman Class". All Hip Hop. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  39. ^ Tyler Sharp (November 30, 2020). "Famous Dex Is a Suspect in Domestic Violence Case, SWAT Team Called to His House: Report". xxlmag.com. Archived from the original on January 28, 2021. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
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  41. ^ ago, Music-2 years (2019-08-16). "Benny The Butcher Says Jay-Z Told Him Not To Do 2019 XXL Freshman Cover". Okayplayer. Retrieved 2019-08-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
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  43. ^ "r/Snot - $not declined to be a xxl freshman he still probably mad they "lost" his pitch". reddit. 3 April 2021. Retrieved 2021-07-13.
  44. ^ "Fans react to Yeat turning down XXL". Instagram; Our Generation Music. 15 June 2022. Retrieved 2022-06-16.

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