XXL‘s 2011 Freshman Class

Yelawolf, Meek Mill, Big K.R.I.T., Diggy, CyHi the Prynce, Lil Twist, Mac Miller, Kendrick Lamar, YG, Fred the Godson and Lil B are this years Freshmen picks…

[Originally appears in XXL’s April 2011 issue, on newsstands nationwide on March 15.]

With an abundance of new artists buzzing hard right now, the 2011 Freshman class includes one more member than usual, making 11 picks total this year. The recession is over!

It would be cliché to state that choosing 10 Freshmen was tougher than usual this year. But if it were merely cliché, there wouldnt be 11 of the brightest young stars in hip-hop on the cover of the fourth annual XXL Freshmen issue. With an abundance of new talent, XXL couldnt help but expand his years class. Raps recession is over. So weve splurged and picked 11.

The hype has grown since our inaugural Freshmen issue, in 2007, and since last years class selection, we have been overwhelmed with pitches. (Seems that being an XXL Freshman has become an honor.) But this year, during the selection process, we spotted a problem: In the past, some years had been hard getting the list up to 10; in 2011, the difficulty was getting the number down to 10.

We realized we had more new rap talent to pick from for the 2011 Freshman class than previous years. So we decided to make an exception and chose an extra Freshman this year, because it was clear that 10 just wouldnt be enough.

The new Freshmen assembled in late January to participate in the photo shoot and a roundtable discussion. We also made them rhyme, of course. (Check XXLMag.com for the video of the Freshmen Roundtable, cyphers, freestyles and more interviews.) Its a daunting task to pick out the possible stars of tomorrow, get them all in a studio with stylists, barbers, makeup artists, cameras and a whole bunch of industry folk, and then keep that a secret. But we did it. We present our 11 Freshmen for 2011.–XXL