The 2014 XXL Freshmen: A Statistical Analysis
The line-up for XXL magazine's 2014 freshman issue was revealed on Monday evening, with the "dirty dozen" of rappers on the cover including Chance The Rapper, Kevin Gates, Isaiah Rashad, Ty Dolla $ign and Rich Homie Quan. Troy Ave is New York City's sole inclusion.
As with years gone by, comments sections across the internet are already taking glee in picking the list apart and churning out conspiracy theories about the included artists. Beyond debates about whether the round-up represents an accurate snapshot of upcoming rap talent in 2014 though, a statistical break-down of the fortunes of the XXL freshmen past and present throws up some intriguing insights into how the honor goes on to help or hinder a rapper's career. Consider this the wrath of the freshman math.
See also:Five NYC Rappers Who Deserve To Be In XXL's 2013 Freshman Class Issue
Chances of actually releasing an album during the same year: 25.8%
Being anointed as an XXL freshman is parsed as the first step to a long and fruitful rap career, but intriguingly most artists who appear on the cover fail to capitalize on the buzz by releasing a studio album the same year. Macklemore (with The Heist in 2012) and Future (with Pluto from the same year) are the two most notable exceptions -- and both scored big by actually getting music out before their freshmen year was over.
Chances you'll become a bona fide superstar: 12.2%
The number of XXL freshmen who successfully flip a spot on the magazine cover into an honest to goodness career as a mainstream superstar is low. Tellingly, those plucky rap kids who do manage to assail to great heights of stardom can usually call on a very generous helping hand -- as in Lupe Fiasco and J. Cole receiving hearty co-signs from Kanye and Jigga, Wiz Khalifa snagging 'Ye's former G.O.O.D. wifey Amber Rose, or Macklemore coining a pop culture moment with "Thrift Shop." The low odds of stardom throw credence to rumors that break-out stars like Drake, A$AP Rocky and Nicki Minaj turned down freshman cover opportunities as they didn't want to be grouped in with possibly flailing talent.
Chances you're a mature student: 25.7%
There's often little youthful and fresh-faced about being an XXL freshman, with over a quarter of all picks having hit the magic number of 30 by the time of their cover spot. The first ever freshman roster in 2008 included a whopping eight mature rap chaps in its ranks, while this year's vintage features the 32-year-old Funk Volume representer Jarren Benton. Rap is no longer just a young buck's sport.