XXL is an American magazine that focuses on hip hop and was founded back in 1997. The most popular aspect of their magazine is their annual ‘Freshman Class List’. The issue started back in 2007 and has gained many fans that are attracted to the list each and every year. Usually 10 new or relevant artists are nominated, though the list has landed 9 and sometimes 12 artists.
The magazine intends to give these young stars a first taste of fame after being unknown or underappreciated. It supports their careers and gets their name out and into the community. They participate in a photo shoot, read mean tweets about themselves from fans, receive an XXL specific interview and freestyle amongst each other to a beat on a cypher. Often, artists decline the offer due to personal or professional reasons. Popular artists who have declined are such as Drake, ASAP Rocky, Young Thug, PartyNextDoor, Tory Lanez, Post Malone, Lil Skies, NAV, Juice WRLD and Lil Tecca. The most commonly known cypher from 2016 is widely valued as the best cypher from a class ever. It includes freestyles from Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Kodak Black, Denzel Curry and Lil Yachty. Every so often throughout the year, XXL nominates who they want in the upcoming issue. The first nominated for the 2020 list was the artist Pop Smoke, who gladly accepted the offer but unfortunately passed away a month later. The official 2020 list includes Polo G, Lil Tjay, Lil Keed, Calboy, NLE Choppa, 24kGoldn, Fivio Foreign, Rod Wave, Chika, Jack Harlow, Baby Keem and Mulatto. Both Polo G and Lil Tjay found themselves rising charts when their breakout single ‘Pop Out’ was released.
Since then, Tjay has dropped his own successful album while Polo has dropped 2. Other artists found their initial fame from the popular app TikTok. 24kGoldn with ‘Valentino’ and ‘City of Angels’, Rod Wave with ‘Heart on Ice’, Jack Harlow with ‘What’s Poppin’ and Baby Keem with ‘ORANGE SODA’. Nevertheless, they all made something spark enough to catch the eye of the XXL Freshman watchlist and made it on.