So you’re aiming to land on the cover of the much coveted XXL “Freshmen Class” issue, well you can borrow my cliff’s notes. As of 2010, the XXL Freshmen Class list is unveiled in early March and then the carefully chosen new wave of hip-hop artists are introduced to the world in XXL’s April issue. I researched the early buzz of some of XXL’s freshmen alumni, and I came up with these common factors. Without further ado, here are 5 useful tips you can use toward becoming a hip-hop freshman.
Consistency: As with any goal that you set, you have to be consistent and continually take action. Each XXL freshman has been consistent in their efforts. Big K.R.I.T first started generating a MySpace buzz in 2005, releasing his first mixtape at 18. Curren$y started off as one of the 504 Boyz on Master P’s No Limit Records, he later signed with Young Money where he released the track “Where Da the Cash At”. After pushbacks, he left and took control of his career. He released the popular mixtapes: Independence Day and Higher than 30,000 Feet, generating a buzz that landed him in the 2009 freshmen class.
Co-Sign: Many of the former freshmen class have earned seals of approval from hip-hop heavyweights. Freshmen Class 2010 alum and Maybach Music Group signee Pill received praise from Andre 3000 after 3000 heard his mixtape; Pill 4180: The Prescription.
Internet Buzz: One trait that each freshmen class alumni possessed was a strong Internet buzz. In 2007 west coast hip-hop artist Crooked I started a 52 week long Hip-Hop Weekly series via the Internet. For a whole year, Crooked I released a new freestyle track every Wednesday, in which he rapped over various current and old hip-hop instrumentals, sometimes fan selected. His popular and trendsetting Hip-Hop Weekly series gave him a vehicle to build his fan base, engage his current fans and build a strong Internet buzz, ultimately gaining a place in the 2007 XXL inaugural freshmen class.
Timing: As of 2010, the annual freshman class list is revealed in March. In January 2011, Eminem signed southern rap artist Yelawolf to Shady Records. Aside from his amazing grind, this factor most likely contributed to Yelawolf being included in the 2011 freshmen class. Additionally Meek Millz signed to Maybach Music Group in February 2011, which amongst other factors may have contributed to his inclusion as well.
Crossover Record: Alternative hip-hop artist Kid Cudi’s breakthrough mixtape: “A Kid Named Cudi” produced the crossover record “Day N Nite”, a track that eventually charted on both hip-hop and pop charts.