XXL Editor in Chief Vanessa Satten has stepped forward to speak out on her publication’s annual “Freshman” cover and defended its choices of the hottest emcees to watch for this year.

Satten said the ultimate idea behind the annual special is to give light to artists on the come-up that might take a while to blossom into full-blown stars.

“The goal we try to make with Freshman is to show that we support new talent [and] to give opportunities to people who will kind of take a long time for them to come around and get that opportunity or be on the cover,” XXL Editor in Chief Vanessa Satten told MTV News on Thursday (March 28). Satten has enough experience to understand that she and her staff have to let their picks play out before succumbing to fan pressure and public outcry. “I can’t tell you how many people said to me, ‘What’s a Macklemore?’ ” she said of the 2012 Freshman who has since gone on to hoist multiplatinum plaques for his hit single “Thrift Shop.” “Now, I can’t tell you how many people say, ‘Yo, Macklemore was the best pick of the class last year.'” (MTV)

She also delved into why they decided to feature Chief Keef as an honorable mention.

In addition to the 10 MCs who were photographed for the annual hip-hop tentpole, Chief Keef received an honorary nod as the 11th Freshman. It was a move that left many scratching their heads, considering that the Chicago rabble-rouser already released his debut album, Finally Rich, in December. “We locked Chief Keef down as one of the first Freshmen, and that was back in October,” she said before reminding fans that Keef’s six-day jail bid prevented him from being part of the shoot in New York City. “There was no album, there was no jail bid, there was no legal drama. So that happened after we locked him down.” Unsure of how Keef’s legal situation would play out, Satten and her staff decided to keep the “I Don’t Like” rapper on as an honorable mention and have since gotten a post-jail interview with him that they will spotlight in the issue when it hits stands April 8. As for that little album he dropped in December, Statten isn’t sweating it. “Sometimes rules are meant to be broken,” she said. “We felt it was wrong for him to not be part of that group.” (MTV)

This year’s roundup includes artists ranging from Atlanta’s Trinidad James to New York spitters like Joey Bada$$ and Action Bronson.

This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the cover reveal of the XXL Freshman Class 2013. XXL Freshman Class 2013 Schoolboy Q Trinidad Jame$ Joey Bada$$ Ab-Soul Logic Action Bronson Kirko Bangz Travi$ Scott Dizzy Wright – 10 Spot People’s Champion Winner Angel Haze Chief Keef – “The 11th Freshman” (XXL Mag)

Last year’s notable artists included Atlanta rapper Future and Bad Boy Records’ Machine Gun Kelly.

It’s that time of year again — XXL has officially revealed its list of the top hip hop “freshmen” of 2012, honoring fresh new talent poised to make a mark on the industry. The list has grown in popularity and garnered heated anticipation each year since its introduction in 2007. This year #XXLFreshmen2012 shot to the top of Twitter’s worldwide trending topics within minutes of the announcement. The XXL Freshmen Class of 2012 is: Future, Kid Ink, Danny Brown, French Montana, Roscoe Dash, Macklemore, Don Trip, Machine Gun Kelly, Hopsin and Iggy Azalea. (BET)