XXL magazine’s power is proven each year when the publication shakes up the proverbial pot 0n-command with their infamous XXL Freshman list. Hip-Hop Wired had a chance to chop it up with Editor-in-chief Vanessa Satten about the 2014 class, the addition of R&B artists Ty Dolla $ign and August Alsina, and much more.
Aside from the aforementioned crooners, Chicago’s own Chance The Rapper, Lil Durk, Vic Mensa, and Lil Bibby represent for their city on the cover. The remainder of the selection are comprised of artists from across the country, including East Coast representative Troy Ave, southerners Rich Homie Quan, Isaiah Rashad, Kevin Gates, and Jarren Benton (who was fan selected), and Midwest lyricist Jon Connor.
Early in the conversation, Satten commented on the list’s apparent controversy saying, “It’s controversial, because you guys [journalists] like to make it controversial.”
While true, no one disagrees that the air of the list is what makes it a point of conversation each year. But this year’s pool of artists are diverse not only sonic-wise, but in genre as well. “It didn’t really work that way, because we didn’t take any spots away from rappers,” Satten said. “We did 10 rappers and two R&B, so all 10 rappers is there and that’s what we commit to.” Using Satten’s words, Ty Dolla and Alsina should be considered bonuses.
We also made a point to inquire about the lack of female MCs selected, especially with artists like Rapsody (who made XXL‘s “20 Best Female Rappers Of All Time” list) who have been vocal about being omitted.
“Our responsibility is not fill quotas,” Satten explained. “If we stuck people in based off the fact of their gender or their race or something like that, it wouldn’t be fair to what the cover is. The cover is supposed to document Hip-Hop, who’s hot right now, and who we believe has a bigger future ahead of them.”
To be truthful, XXL has to know that attempts to make a Freshman list that pleases the masses are futile. But then again, that’s the fun in it. Give us your thoughts in the comments.