XXL‘s ninth Freshman class has arrived. The esteemed hip-hop publication unveiled its 2016 batch of rising rappers for the annual issue (June 13), shouting out a diverse cast of MCs which include Desiigner, Lil Dicky, Dave East, Denzel Curry, G Herbo, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Dicky, Lil Yachty, Anderson .Paak, 21 Savage and Kodak Black.
Dicky, one of the 2016 honorees, called the celebratory cover a “huge hip-hop right of passage.” The Pennsylvania rapper also tells Billboard, “So many greats have graced the freshman cover before. For me it was really validating because a lot of what I do is humorous, so it’s good to see it still be taken seriously by such an authoritative source.”
His fellow Freshman mate, Desiigner, prepped for the landmark cover by taking a trip to the mall. “The day before, me and my bro did some shopping to make sure I was fresh for the shoot,” he explains to Billboard. “Also, my man Marcus Paul laced me with some dope clothing at the shoot too. I had to make sure I bring my Desiigner funk to XXL.”
“Everything we do for Freshman, we do in one big day,” adds XXL editor-in-chief Vanessa Satten in a behind-the-scenes video, sharing the details of the grand production. “I think this year’s Freshman class is great. There’s been some controversy going into it. It’s always about who you gnna picked, who you missed, who didn’t you get, who fits in with who, who’s a rapper, who’s a singer but overall, I think this is a great reflection of 2016 hip-hop.”
Last year’s Freshman honorees included Fetty Wap, Dej Loaf, Tink, Vince Staples, Raury and OG Maco. 2017 will also mark the 10th anniversary of the XXL Freshman issue.