XXL is one of the longest tenured print publications and almost the oldest in all of hip-hop. They were founded by Townsquare Media in 1997 and have been going strong ever since. One of their most popular features, the XXL Freshmen List, was created in 2008 and annually showcases the Top 10 new faces in the rap game.

Strangely enough, it’s not that cut and dry. Here are 5 things you (probably) didn’t know about XXL’s Freshmen List.

1. The Freshmen Record A Cypher

Upon the release of the list, the selected artists typically record a live freestyle. These freestyles are referred to as their individual “cypher”. It’s also a tradition for the rappers to group up in trios and create a group cypher. Their verses better be good, too. If not, they’ll certainly hear about it on social media. In 2015, Shy Glizzy performed and it was so bad that people are still talking about it! Listen below for yourself. One last thing: if you’re an aspiring rapper and want to make the XXL list, make sure your cypher doesn’t suck if you get selected.

[2. XXL has received backlash for not always getting the list “right”…]

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