While the West Coast may be delivering the best quality music in hip-hop, the South remains the gateway and the trendsetter. Mainly Atlanta, as they’ve produced some of the hottest artist and catchiest tracks in the last few years. Future has made his way from the streets to the mainstream, while the likes of Young Thug, Migos, Que, Rich Homie Quan and every other rapper you’d be hard-pressed not to hear being bumped while riding down 75 South hopes to follow in his footsteps.
And of the aforementioned artists, Young Thug’s wave seems to be at the top right now. He’s an enigma, one hard to understand as his flow encapsulates Lil Wayne on codeine with an increase in beats per minute, but he’s been everywhere and is being heard everywhere. Well, everywhere except the XXL magazine.
In an interview with the Breakfast Club, DJ Drama – famous Southern mixtape mastermind and current A&R for Atlantic Records – says Thugger won’t be appearing on the infamous XXL Freshmen magazine.
Angela Yee: I heard they wanted him on the XXL Freshmen cover too.
DJ Drama: Yeah, yeah. That was a play that I had somewhat put together, didn’t work out.
Charlamagne tha God: They didn’t think he was hot enough?.. So he didn’t want to be on the cover with everybody else basically?
DJ Drama: I really don’t know his reasonings for not doing the cover, but he’s not on the cover?
Charlamagne tha God: So he declined?
DJ Drama: Um… I hope Young Thug comes up and does a Breakfast Club some time soon.
Basically, it sounds like Young Thug has declined to appear on the XXL cover.
While it may sound a bit ludicrous considering the buzz and popularity that can be generated from appearing on this infamous list, Thug isn’t losing much by telling XXL no. At least, if that’s what he did. Thug’s rise began with a sub-par debut in 1017 Thug, followed by street smashes in “Stoner,” “Danny Glover,” and by way of feature on Rich Homie Quan’s “Get The Fuck Out My Face.” And considering the life-span of Atlanta artist, or at least those who struggle to make an imprint in the mainstream hip-hop scene, his career won’t last too long making what he’s entering his peak. And can XXL make him bigger than he already is? Doubt it. The list has dropped incredibility over the years as they have a habit of skipping over artists who have made an imprint in the given time period. Besides, getting Kanye West on camera rapping the words to Thug’s “Danny Glover” will likely do much more than appearing on a cover will.
He isn’t the first artists to decline the XXL offer. ASAP Rocky did it recently, as well as Drake and Nicki Minaj in the past. In the grand scheme of things, Thug’s popularity doesn’t light a candle to Rocky, Drake or Nicki, but for an artists of his kind, he’s doing as well as anyone could have expected him to.
Thug declining XXL’s offer also leaves a space open for someone who isn’t as renown as he is. That’s the one thing about XXL’s list that’s enjoyable. We’ll have our debates about who belongs and who doesn’t, but allowing an artist who isn’t as known in Atlanta or New York, while having a huge local or coastal following, gives him a chance to be seen and heard by the rest of the world. One has to assume that this isn’t a problem that Young Thug is having due to his success over the last 365 days.
Some will knock him for this. It may come off as arrogant by proclaiming that you “don’t need” XXL to generate buzz, but it’s the truth; he doesn’t. Thugger isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. He panders to a Southern audience that is comfortable with the sound he creates. Even I have trouble hearing exactly what he’s saying on his songs, but that doesn’t stop him from being what he is and that’s one of the hottest artists in the game right now. Declining XXL won’t be the beginning of his downfall.
Besides, Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan are expected to drop an collab EP, so he’ll be just fine.