If there’s one thing hip-hop continues to do throughout its nearly 50 years of existence it’s evolve. Though inspiration can been seen and heard across decades, nothing has truly been the same from the genre’s music to the artists over the years. Part of hip-hop’s most exciting evolution comes in the form of the rising newcomers that enter the game every year. It’s why XXL Freshman, which kicked off in 2007, was created in the first place. The annual dedication to the new crop of hip-hop talent celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. Now, it’s time for the 2022 XXL Freshman Class to make its mark.

Before XXL’s staff selected the members of this year’s class, there were daily meetings with nearly 100 of the best and brightest rap neophytes. Witnessing an artist’s impact, listening to new music, keeping note of plans for the year, plus Zoom and in-person conversations that launched in January and came to an end in April helped the team narrow down the choices. While it’s never an easy process, this year, 12 artists were given the title of Freshman.

The 2022 XXL Freshman Class is breaking the mold. They refuse to conform to the norm, and pride themselves on creating a fresh sound in hip-hop. Like the classes that came before them, these newly inducted rappers are aiming for superstardom.

Over the next month, XXL will be releasing freestyles, cyphers, interviews and more with each Freshman. Multiplatinum-selling producer Wheezy Outta Here created the beats for this year’s much-anticipated cyphers. Look out for his own interview, in which he shares his thoughts on taking part in the entire process as well.

The Freshman issue hits stands everywhere on July 13 and includes additional interviews with Lupe Fiasco, Kevin Gates, Pi’erre Bourne, NLE Choppa, Yvngxchris, producer DJ Dahi, engineer Teezio and singer Chlöe, plus a breakdown of every Freshman Class from a numbers standpoint, a look back at what the 2021 XXL Freshman Class is doing, the story of why the 2016 XXL Freshman Class gets so much respect now, a deep dive into the world of NFTs through hip-hop’s lens and exploring rappers’ most valuable collections. You can also buy the 2022 XXL Freshman Class issue here.

Now, it’s time to celebrate. Take a look at the photos below to see which 12 artists are breaking the mold as part of the 2022 XXL Freshman Class.

See Every Artist in the 2022 XXL Freshman Class

Which rapper is your favorite?
2022 xxl freshman class cover
Travis Shinn for XXL

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