XXL (magazine)

Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten
Categories Music magazine
Frequency Quarterly
Publisher Townsquare Media
First issue 1997
Country United States of America
Based in New York City, New York
Language English
Website www.XXLMag.com

XXL is an American hip hop magazine, published by Townsquare Media, founded in 1997.


In August 1997,[1] Harris Publications released the first issue of XXL. It featured rappers Jay-Z and Master P on a double cover.[2] 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.[3]

In 2013, XXL started their own annual awards. With the top 5 being chosen by a public vote and all other winners and nominees picked by the XXL staff.

In 2014, Townsquare Media acquired XXL,[4] King and Antenna from Harris Publications.

On October 14, 2014, Townsquare announced it would continue print publication of XXL.[5] In December 2014 the company reported that the magazine would be published on a quarterly basis.[4]

Past editors

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 ego trip and The Source, currently locked in at #7 slot on The Source's Digital 30 list.)[6][7] and Datwon Thomas (former Editor-In-Chief of King).

In May 2009, Datwon Thomas resigned from XXL and executive editor Vanessa Satten, who had been with XXL since 1998, was named the new Editor-in-Chief.[8]

Magazine cover of XXL Presents Shade 45

Special releases

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.[9]

In November 2008 XXL released XXL Raps Volume 1, which included music from 50 Cent, G-Unit, Common, Jim Jones, & Fabolous.[10]

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.[11]

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.[2]

XXL Annual Freshman List

Starting in 2007 (skipping 2008),[12] XXL also releases its annual Top 10 Freshman list. The issue features the ten picks of whom to watch out for, and on the cover of the magazine and showcases new rappers that aren't well known, but are considered to be on the rise. The list has become known to create buzz and is credited for giving many artists their first taste of fame.[13][14][15]

Some of the biggest rap stars who've received early cosigns on the XXL Freshman List include Kendrick Lamar, Yelawolf, J. Cole, Logic, Big Sean, Meek Mill, Future, YG, Mac Miller, Chance The Rapper, Vince Staples and Kevin Gates. Artists who have declined or were not considered to become a XXL freshman include: A$AP Rocky, Vado, Jay Electronica, Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler, The Creator, Young Thug, PartyNextDoor, ILoveMakonnen, Bryson Tiller, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Tory Lanez, and Post Malone.

Year Freshmen
2007 Saigon, Plies, Rich Boy, Gorilla Zoe, Joell Ortiz, Lupe Fiasco, Lil Boosie, Crooked I, Papoose, and Young Dro.[16]
2009 Wale, B.o.B, Charles Hamilton, Asher Roth, Cory Gunz, Blu, Mickey Factz, Ace Hood, Curren$y, and Kid Cudi.[17]
2010 J. Cole, Pill, Nipsey Hussle, Freddie Gibbs, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, OJ da Juiceman, Jay Rock, Fashawn, and Donnis.[18]
2011 Meek Mill, Big K.R.I.T., Cyhi the Prynce, Lil Twist, Yelawolf, Fred the Godson, Mac Miller, YG, Lil B, Kendrick Lamar, and Diggy Simmons.[19]
2012 Future, Kid Ink, Danny Brown, French Montana, Macklemore, Don Trip, Machine Gun Kelly, Hopsin, Iggy Azalea, and Roscoe Dash.[20]
2013 Schoolboy Q, Trinidad James, Joey Bada$$, Ab-Soul, Logic, Action Bronson, Kirko Bangz, Travi$ Scott, Dizzy Wright, Angel Haze, and Chief Keef.[21]
2014 Chance The Rapper, Rich Homie Quan, Isaiah Rashad, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Durk, Kevin Gates, Troy Ave, Vic Mensa, Lil Bibby, Jon Connor, Jarren Benton, and August Alsina.[22]
2015 Fetty Wap, Dej Loaf, Raury, Kidd Kidd, OG Maco, Shy Glizzy, K Camp, Vince Staples, Tink, and GoldLink
2016 Anderson .Paak, 21 Savage, Kodak Black, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Dicky, Dave East, Denzel Curry, Desiigner, G Herbo, Lil Yachty


  1. "Potential Markets". Freelance Writing. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Drake On The Cover Of XXL's 150th Issue". XXL mag. August 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  3. "Hip-Hop News, Rap Music". XXL. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  4. 1 2 Marc Schneider (December 18, 2014). "XXL Magazine to Print Quarterly Issues". Billboard. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  5. Rob Markman (October 14, 2014). "Exclusive: XXL Magazine Isn't Going Out Of Print". MTV News. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  6. Jacobs, Allen: "XXL Editor-in-Chief Elliott Wilson Fired", hiphopdx, 2008. Retrieved on 8 January 2007.
  7. Wolfe, Roman: "XXL Magazine Fires EIC Elliott Wilson", AllHipHop, 2008. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 9, 2008. Retrieved January 8, 2008. Retrieved on 8 January 2007.
  8. Langhorne, Cyrus (2009-05-27). "Former XXL Editor-In-Chief Looks Beyond Publication, "It Was A Hard Decision"". Sohh.Com. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  9. Carl Chery (August 23, 2005). Eminem & Shade Collabo W/XXL For Special Radio Issue Archived June 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.. SoHH.com. Accessed January 29, 2008.
  10. "XXL Raps, Vol. 1: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  11. "Saigon & Ice Cube I'm Talkin' To You - XXL". Xxlmag.com. 2006-09-11. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  12. Schwab, Isabel (4 June 2015). "The 'XXL' Freshman Class List Is a Joke: Kidd Kidd, Iggy Azalea, and More Rap Lunacy". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  13. "Grading XXL's Top 10 Freshman List". Refinedhype.com. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  14. "2010 XXL Freshmen class". xxlmag.com. 2011-07-14.
  15. "2011 XXL Freshmen class". xxlmag.com. 2011-07-14.
  16. "Where Are They Now?: 2007 Freshman Recap - XXL". Xxlmag.com. 2012-03-27. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  17. "Where Are They Now?: 2009 Freshman Recap - XXL". Xxlmag.com. 2011-03-24. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  18. "XXcLusive: XXL's 10 Freshmen for '10 Cover Revealed - XXL". Xxlmag.com. 2010-03-01. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  19. "XXL Presents 2011′s Freshman Class - XXL". Xxlmag.com. 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  20. JP DelaCuesta (2012-02-28). "XXL Reveals Cover For Its 2012 "Freshmen Class"". AllHipHop.com. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  21. "XXL Freshman Class 2013 Cover Revealed - Page 2 of 2 - XXL". Xxlmag.com. 2013-03-27. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  22. "XXl Freshman 2014 Cover and 10 Spot Revealed". xxlmag.com. 2014-05-05. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
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