The judgments of the XXL Freshman Classes
XXL has been putting out their infamous Freshman Class since 2007. Each year, the list showcases 10 rappers that XXL thinks are on the rise. Past Freshman classes have featured the likes of powerhouse names in Kendrick Lamar, YG and Chance the Rapper— just to name a few.
With this year’s list pretty much wrapped up and awaiting official announcement, there has been recent commotion on social media giving XXL a hard time for doing something that everybody in this country is entitled to do: give their opinion.
A few months ago, Canadian rapper and producer Nav took to Twitter to disapprove of the Freshman Class. We don’t know whether or not if he actually made the list, but if there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s the fact that Nav was not happy with XXL.
To my fellow artists. We shouldn’t look to a magazine for validation or to tell us if we "hot or not", especially one that hasn't been credible for 10 years @xxl. Make music for yourself and your fans. I would never show up for the Freshman List cuz I don't need their approval 😈
— Nav (@beatsbynav) March 19, 2018
Just a few hours later, Nav then proceeded to specifically call out Vanessa Satten, XXL’s editor-in-chief, which might have been a little over the top for the situation at hand.
— Nav (@beatsbynav) March 19, 2018
If that wasn’t enough, Nav came out with ‘Freshman List,’ a track that seems to take a shot at XXL. It’s not entirely clear if the song is directed toward the renowned hip-hop magazine, but all indications seem point to it.
To add a cherry on top, the rapper is currently on tour, and the name of it? You guessed it: the Freshman List Tour.
Speaking of shots fired at XXL, San Diego rapper Rob $tone opened up briefly at Smokers Club Festival in Long Beach on April 28 about the list.
“I actually made a diss song about XXL, it’s called ‘Sophomore,'” $tone said. “It’s not going to come out. I’m over it and past it.”
Other than Nav and Rob $tone, other rappers who claimed to have made the list have publicly come out and refused to accept. Most notably, one of them being 19-year-old Pennsylvania-based Lil Skies.
In the video which contains a screen grab from Skies’ Instagram story, Skies said that he made the list but declined. He went on to say that he can’t be categorized and called the list “rigged.”
It might not have been clear to him how the list works, since 9 of those chosen are decisions made by XXL and the final spot is the only one that is voted upon by the public.
And while Nav and Lil Skies do make logical points in their rants about not needing a list to validate their careers, can one really say that the Freshman list is “rigged?” It might be. But in all honesty, “rigged” just isn’t the right word to be used.
If you take a step back and really look at the bigger picture, the list is by no means a claim to fame for all of those chosen.
But just like any editorial publication out there, and people for that matter (I’m not about to get philosophical), opinions are entitled to. It’s their list, so they should get the right to put whoever they feel fits, whether it’s a rapper-on-the-rise, an artist-to-watch or somebody who’s completely under the radar. It just gets blown out of proportion because of how much notoriety the list has gained over the years.
And that’s the fault of the media, the fans and some rappers who developed a grain of salt for making it such a big deal. The list doesn’t necessarily mean a rapper has “arrived” or that they’re the greatest that the industry currently has to offer.
So in a sense, Skies and Nav have valid arguments.
I won’t give any specific names, but take a look at the lists from past years and it’ll be clear to see that there are some careers that skyrocketed and others that seemed to plummet.
At Smokers Club Festival, Dezzy Hollow, an up-and-coming rapper from Oceanside, California best known for his hit track “EBT Boi,” made a great point on what the list means to those in the industry.
“I feel like (the list) is just people’s opinion of what’s ‘hip.’ Whoever is more popping at this moment is going to make it,” Hollow said.
With that being said, yes, XXL’s Freshman Class is still huge for any artist’s career because of some of the names that have donned that honor and where their careers have gone. Yes, the list is “rigged” because XXL literally calls the shots. Does it mean that every one of the 10 rappers chosen are the hottest in the game right now? Not at all.
But aside from all the chatter, XXL shouldn’t be taking punches to the face for giving their honest opinion and the public shouldn’t be making a big deal out of who makes it and who doesn’t, whether it be negative or positive reactions.
If anything, the shade thrown their way might work in their favor and increase XXL’s popularity more than what it already is today.