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As is custom in the Hip-Hop world, XXL’s yearly Freshman list is the center of heated debates from board rooms to barbershops. Although the magazine cover was just revealed days ago, people are questioning some of the selections. To address the noise, XXL Editor-In-Chief Vanessa Satten sat down in a brief interview yesterday (March 28) to clear the air.

MTV News got the scoop from Satten, and she made no apologies for the list. The mag’s top banana also spoke on the inclusion of Interscope artist Chief Keef although he’s already dropped his official debut studio album.

“The goal we try to make with Freshman is to show that we support new talent… to give opportunities to people who will kind of take a long time for them to come around and get that opportunity or be on the cover,” said Satten. “I think Hip-Hop’s at a place where it absolutely loves new artists.”

This year’s list includes Trinidad Jame$Joey Bada$$LogicAction BronsonKirko BangzTravi$ ScottDizzy Wright and Angel Haze. Top Dawg Entertainment came up big with two of their artists making the cut in Ab-Soul and ScHoolboy Q. Chief Keef is included as an honorary freshman, but the decision to add the Chicago native was met with criticism. Satten and her team brushed past the barbs and has made peace with their selection.

“We locked Chief Keef down as one of the first Freshmen, and that was back in October,” she said, adding that Keef’s jail bid kept him from taking part in the photo shoot in New York. “There was no album, there was no jail bid, there was no legal drama. So that happened after we locked him down.”

Satten also revealed that they will run an exclusive interview next month with Chief Keef, no doubt to clear the air about his freshman status. Whatever the case, the list is here and time will tell which of the new crop will be best poised to be the next breakout star.

Check out the full interview below.

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