When XXL revealed its hotly anticipated and always controversial Freshman Class list for 2020 yesterday, some fans were disappointed to find out that Travis Scott associate Don Toliver was not included among the 12 artists expected to break out to mainstream stardom by the magazine. Even Uproxx included him in our list of seven other artists to watch who didn’t make the list due to his appearances on the Cactus Jack Jackboys EP and his well-received album, Heaven Or Hell.
However, according to XXL Editor-In-Chief Vanessa Satten, Toliver has only himself to blame for his absence from the coveted cover story. Stopping by Hot 97’s The Breakfast Club yesterday, Satten explained that the original version of the list contained both Toliver and the late Pop Smoke. While Pop Smoke was removed for obvious reasons, Toliver was a completely different story. According to Satten, “Don Toliver came up and he said he didn’t want to take part in any of the concerts or anything. He would just stand there for the cover. He didn’t want to do freestyles, he didn’t want to do cyphers. [He] just said, ‘I’m not gonna do anything. I’m just going to stand there for the cover.'”
Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to work for XXL, because that would have made for a horrible-looking rollout. No artist is bigger than the cover, but fortunately for Toliver, not every artist actually needs it. Artists who missed out or turned down the cover and wound up becoming big stars anyway include ASAP Rocky, Drake, Juice WRLD, Nicki Minaj, Post Malone, and Young Thug, so Toliver is in good-ish company — for now. He’ll have to prove he made the right choice the hard way, foregoing the exposure provided by Freshman Class appearance and build an audience from the ground up. Judging by the fan response to his absence, he’s already well on the way.
The 2020 XXL Freshman Class list is out now. Find out more here. Watch Vanessa Satten’s Breakfast Club interview above.