When the XXL first launched their now iconic Freshman Cover series in 2007, the lineup painted an interesting picture of the era. Featuring the talents of Lupe Fiasco, Lil Boosie, Saigon, Plies, Rich Boy, Gorilla Zoe, Papoose, Young Dro, and future Slaughterhouse collaborators KXNG Crooked and Joell Ortiz, there's a case to be made that the inaugural launch was the most lyrically-focused roster to date. That fact was not lost on KXNG Crook, who was going by Crooked I and riding with the Death Row movement at the time.

KXNG Crooked Crooked I

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His induction also happened to arrive at the height of his "Hip-Hop Weekly" movement, a year-long endeavor that found him absolutely obliterating popular instrumentals. In fact, he recently attributed the series to his induction, taking to Twitter to reflect on making the cut back in 2007. "Being on the very first XXL Freshman cover trips me out because I bar’d my way onto that cover," he states, via Twitter. "No radio songs, no co-signs, no major label, no politics just innovation and smokin other rappers instrumentals."

After a fan inquires whether that formula would still apply today, Crook laments that the times have simply changed too drastically. "We may be a bit passed it because some platforms won’t post or allow you to post other people’s beats without permission but every now and then it couldn’t hurt to smack somebody’s beat around," he advises, though it's unlikely we'll see a return to the mixtape era as we know it. Nor does it appear we'll be seeing such a lyrically-focused XXL cover again, but that's another story. 

In any case, Crook's stroll down memory lane was enough to bring his Slaughterhouse groupmates Royce Da 5'9" and Joell Ortiz into the comment section. "I remember that cover @kxngcrooked," adds Joell. "Think I bar’d my way on there too! Can’t remember." Check out the message below, and show some love to Crook for keeping the bars alive to this day.