Revisiting XXL Freshmen 10 of the Past | 2009’s Class – Where Are They Now?

Revisiting The ’09 XXL Freshmen 10 – Their Success & Where Are They Now?

Technically 2009 marked the first official Freshmen 10 XXL Magazine class.  The publication took most of 2008 off and returned in November 2008 with with a perfected concept and arguably the best list they’ve ever assembled.  Dubbed the 2009 XXL Freshmen 10, the list included Wale, Kid Cudi, B.o.B, Charles Hamilton, Asher Roth and several of the biggest names in Hip-hop at the time.

Like we did with the 2007 XXL Freshman, once again we revisit the 2009 XXL Freshmen 10.  Here’s a second look at just how successful those artists were and where those artists are now.

We have also since revisted the XXL Freshmen Classes of 201020112012 & 2013.


The XXL cover introduced Blu to the mainstream. The California bred emcee, who represented the only artist from the West Coast on the cover had actually been active as an underground artist since 2003. His debut project, Below The Heavens was a joint effort with producer, Exile. The success of the project led to spotlights on several Hip-Hop sites and the XXL feature helped him get a deal with Warner Bros. Records.  That was probably the height of his mainstream success however.
Blu has released several projects, mostly free albums or mixtures since ’09, including another collaboration project with Exile, a project with Madlib, and an EP with Nottz.  None of those projects have lived up to the expectations. And none of his albums were ever released through Warner Bros. Still, it should be noted that Blu is beloved by his underground fans.

Where Are They Now?
In January, Blu took to Twitter to air out Evidence and Alchemist.  He’s since moved back to the headlines for his music. His latest project is Titans In the Flesh a collaboration with Nottz. If you let twitter tell it, the EP is packed with hits.  Blu remains consistent with releases and has a captive audience… on the underground.

Cory Gunz

Cory is a story all his own.  The Bronx representative and son of Peter Gunz was born into Hip-Hop.  By the time XXL gave him the the Freshmen 10 honor he had already been signed to multiple deals with several mixtapes. Listeners knew he could rap, but he suffered from the same issues a Jae Millz or a Papoose had to deal with—great lyricists but could they make an album.
Cory would get signed to Young Money/Cash Money the year after the XXL cover and was featured on the second, less impressive Young Money album, Rise of an Empire.  Later he would be features on the Rich Gang album. His verse on “6 foot 7 foot” by Lil Wayne also helped propel the track as the lead single for Tha Carter IV.
His MTV reality show “Son of A Gun” was short lived but it did nothing to help with the music.

Where Are They Now?

He must be writing for someone because he is still signed to YMCMB (as is Jae Millz… quite a head scratcher for both of them). He was featured on Lil Wayne’s Free Weezy project last year and his own last mixtape, Datz WTF I’m Talkin’ Bout was released in 2013.  His debut album, The Life of Cory Gunz may never see the light of day  especially if he remains with YMCMB, considering the Lil Wayne and Birdman issues.

Mickey Factz

Another Bronx native, Mickey Factz chose Hip-hop over a spot at NYU Law School.  Factz released his first project in 2006. He released several additional mixtapes before he received his Freshmen 10 spot.  He was added to a Honda marketing campaign and was signed by Battery Records, a division of Jive Records following the XXL Freshmen 10 accolade but soon thereafter Jive and Battery merged with Sony, leaving him without a label.

Where Are They Now?

Another artist with a cult following, Mickey has released 15 mixtapes.  His latest Y-3 dropped in September ’15. He toured with Lupe Fiasco and the two have maintained a great relationship since the All City Chess Club days.

He’s released several projects over the course of his career, but his music hasn’t spawned the success that he found early in his career.  His last project, I Said Yo was released in 2018.  In 2019 he has released a couple of singles.

CLICK TO GO TO THE NEXT PAGE FOR The Remaining XXL Freshmen 10

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Kevin Benoit

Kevin Benoit is the editor of Parlé Magazine. He founded the magazine while in college and continues to run it today. Follow him on IG: @parlewithme Read more articles by Kevin.

Kevin Benoit has 1774 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin Benoit


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