It’s that time of year again: XXL just rolled out the official announcement of their coveted 2018 Freshman Class, complete with this year’s magazine cover photo. After ongoing speculation over who would make the cut, the final list consists of Ski Mask The Slump God, Lil Pump, Smokepurpp, J.I.D, Stefflon Don, BlocBoy JB, YBN Nahmir, Wifisfuneral and Trippie Redd.
Always a point of debate in hip-hop, the lead-up to this year’s list garnered more controversy than usual, specifically over XXL’s voting process. The impact of that controversy becomes apparent just by looking at this year’s cover photo: while 10 rappers usually are featured, Lil Skies, who occupies the list’s 10th spot, declined to be photographed. Along with Skies accusing the decision of being rigged before voting even began, the list leaking earlier this year also sparked conflict in the hip-hop community over what artists were left off.
While fans will continue to debate the significance of the XXL Freshman Class List in 2018, there’s still reason to be excited for the coming weeks of cyphers, freestyles and interviews. There’s no denying the potential of this year’s lineup, and who knows what will happen when these artists are put side-by-side. Let us know your thoughts on this year’s freshman in the comments section.