How much does XXL‘s annual Freshman issue actually matter? That question gets bounced around every year as artists are snubbed, unfairly inflated, and in the case someone like Kidd Kidd, chosen some seven years after they appeared on a Top 20 single (Lil Wayne’s 2008 track “Mrs. Officer”). If, in theory, you’re an almost completely unknown rapper, there’s no question, being a Freshman will increase your buzz and have very little downside. But if you’re an already-established artist with a deal (as most Freshman have been in the past few years), the pros/cons debate gets more complex.
Fail to break out past your current position and you’ll forever be remembered as a flop, rather than a low-key success. Sing or rap in an unorthodox manner, and “real rap” fans will use you as a proxy argument for why hip hop is dead. Considering that, it’s no surprise that quite a few rappers have actually turned down chances to become XXL Freshmen.
The following are nine that have explicitly turned down spots. There are undoubtedly many more, but in the sake reducing speculation, we’re limiting this to artists who have confirmed (whether themselves or an XXL editor) that they were fered a spot and didn’t take it.
Be sure to revisit our list the top 10 XXL Freshman flops.