|Country||United States of America|
|Based in||New York City, New York|
In August 1997, Harris Publications released the first issue of XXL. It featured rappers Jay-Z and Master P on a double cover. In December 2006, XXL took over the struggling hip-hop producer and DJ magazine Scratch (another publication owned by Harris Publications), re-branding it as XXL Presents Scratch Magazine. However Scratch shut down less than a year later in September 2007.
Other titles with limited runs have been launched under the XXL brand, including Hip-Hop Soul, Eye Candy and Shade45. XXL has released many other special projects including tour programs, mixtapes and exclusive DVDs. XXL also maintains a popular website, which provides daily hip hop news, original content and content from the magazine.
The magazine's past editors include Reginald C. Dennis (formerly of The Source), Sheena Lester (former editor-in-chief of RapPages and Vibe music editor), Elliott Wilson (formerly of The Beat Down Newspaper, ego trip and The Source, currently locked in at #7 slot on The Source's Digital 30 list.) and Datwon Thomas (former editor-in-chief of King).
In August 2005, Eminem and XXL teamed up to release a special issue titled XXL Presents Shade 45, and was designed to give maximum exposure to Shade 45 as a radio station, and at the same time give maximum exposure to the Shady Records label as a whole, as well as the radio DJ's and G-Unit Records' artists.
XXL executive Publisher, Jonathan Rheingold, stated that typically magazines based around particular artists were not favorable, but "since Shade 45 is a truly authentic and uncensored rap radio channel, the marriage with the XXL brand made sense," with the feeling that it is what would interest rap fans.
In September 2006, XXL put a special 90 minute DVD called XXL DVD Magazine Vol. 1, which featured exclusive interviews and content with big-name rappers such as 50 Cent, Ice Cube, Fat Joe, Paul Wall, & Mike Jones.
On August 20, 2013 XXL released its 150th issue, also celebrating its sixteenth anniversary. The issue featured the first solo cover on the magazine from Drake, and rappers such as Kendrick Lamar and B.o.B reviewing classic albums.
Annual Freshman List
Beginning in 2007 (skipping 2008), XXL releases its annual "Freshman Class" list. The issue features ten artists-to-watch, all appearing on the cover of the magazine. The list has a history of showcasing unknown/underground rappers, as well as artists considered to be on the rise. The list creates significant buzz among listeners and artists alike, and is credited for giving many artists their first taste of fame.
Occasionally, the Freshman Class list may contain extra additions to include more rappers. In 2013, for example, XXL added an honorary 11th spot for Chicago rapper Chief Keef due to the artist being in a six-day jail stint and therefore being unable to attend the photo shoot in New York City. The following year in 2014, the Freshman Class list included two extra spots, bringing the amount of rappers included in that year's list up to 12. Five years later, the 2019 edition of the Freshman Class list contained 11 rappers.
In 2018, the list was reduced to nine artists following a refusal to appear from Pennsylvania rapper Lil Skies, who accused that year's list of being rigged. Skies' replacement, New York rapper Rich the Kid, declined the list also.
Several notable artists have been vocal in turning down offers to appear on the Freshman List, such as Nicki Minaj, Drake, Vado, A$AP Rocky, Young Thug, PARTYNEXTDOOR, iLoveMakonnen, Tory Lanez, Post Malone, Rich the Kid, Lil Skies, NAV, Juice WRLD and Benny the Butcher.
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- "2013 XXL Freshman Issue Explained: Why Logic? Where's Chief Keef?". MTV News. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- "XXL Announces 2018 Freshman Class, With Lil Pump, Smokepurpp, Trippie Redd & More". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- "Lil Skies Says He Declined XXL Freshmen List Because It's Rigged". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- "Rich The Kid Says He "Happily Declined" The 2018 XXL Freshmen List". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- Breakfast Club Power 105.1 FM (2018-06-14), Editor-In-Chief Vanessa Statten Breaks Down 2018 XXL Freshman Cover, retrieved 2018-06-16
- "Where Are They Now?: 2007 Freshman Recap - XXL". XXL. March 27, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
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- "XXL Presents 2011's Freshman Class - XXL". XXL. February 22, 2011. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
- JP DelaCuesta (February 28, 2012). "XXL Reveals Cover For Its 2012 "Freshmen Class"". AllHipHop.com. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
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- "XXL Freshman 2014 Cover and 10 Spot Revealed". XXL. May 5, 2014. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
- "The Wait Is Over: Here Is the 2015 XXL Freshman Class". XXL. June 3, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
- "It's Here: The 2016 XXL Freshman Class". XXL. June 13, 2016. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
- "XXL Freshman 2017 Cover Revealed". XXL. June 13, 2017. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
- "XXL Freshman 2018 Cover Revealed". XXL. June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
- "XXL Freshman 2019 Cover Revealed". XXL. June 20, 2019. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
- "Juice Wrld Explains Why He Turned Down XXL Freshman". All Urban Central. June 22, 2019. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
- "Benny the Butcher on Jay Z Telling Him to Turn Down XXL Freshman Cover (Part 9)". djvlad. July 25, 2019. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
- Lyons, Patrick (3 April 2017). "9 Rappers Who Turned Down Spots On XXL's Freshman List". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 4 September 2019.