In August 1997,<ref>"Potential Markets". Freelance Writing. Retrieved December 4, 2015.</ref> Harris Publications released the first issue of XXL. It featured rappers Jay-Z and Master P on a double cover.<ref name="xxlmag1">"Drake On The Cover Of XXL’s 150th Issue". XXL mag. August 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2014.</ref> In December 2006, XXL took over the struggling hip hop producer and DJ magazine Scratch (another publication owned by Harris Publications), re-branding it as XXL Presents Scratch Magazine. However Scratch shut down less than a year later in September 2007.
Other titles with limited runs have been launched under the XXL brand, including Hip-Hop Soul, Eye Candy and Shade45. XXL has released many other special projects including tour programs, mixtapes and exclusive DVDs. XXL also maintains a popular website, which provides daily hip hop news, original content and content from the magazine.<ref>"Hip-Hop News, Rap Music". XXL. Retrieved October 14, 2014.</ref>
In 2014, Townsquare Media acquired XXL,<ref name=bill>Marc Schneider (December 18, 2014). "XXL Magazine to Print Quarterly Issues". Billboard. Retrieved August 17, 2015.</ref> King and Antenna from Harris Publications.
On October 14, 2014, Townsquare announced it would continue print publication of XXL.<ref>Rob Markman (October 14, 2014). "Exclusive: XXL Magazine Isn't Going Out Of Print". MTV News. Retrieved October 14, 2014.</ref> In December 2014 the company reported that the magazine would be published on a quarterly basis.<ref name=bill/>
The magazine's past editors include Reginald C. Dennis (formerly of The Source), Sheena Lester (former editor-in-chief of RapPages and Vibe music editor), Elliott Wilson (formerly of ego trip and The Source, currently locked in at #7 slot on The Source's Digital 30 list.)<ref>Jacobs, Allen (2008). "XXL Editor-in-Chief Elliott Wilson Fired". www.hiphopdx.com. Retrieved January 8, 2007.</ref><ref>Wolfe, Roman: "XXL Magazine Fires EIC Elliott Wilson", AllHipHop, 2008. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 9, 2008. Retrieved January 8, 2008. Retrieved January 8, 2007.</ref> and Datwon Thomas (former editor-in-chief of King).In May 2009, Datwon Thomas resigned from XXL and executive editor Vanessa Satten, who had been with XXL since 1998, was named the new Editor-in-Chief.<ref>Langhorne, Cyrus (May 27, 2009). "Former XXL Editor-In-Chief Looks Beyond Publication, "It Was A Hard Decision"". Sohh.Com. Retrieved January 4, 2014.</ref>
In August 2005, Eminem and XXL teamed up to release a special issue titled XXL Presents Shade 45, and was designed to give maximum exposure to Shade 45 as a radio station, and at the same time give maximum exposure to the Shady Records label as a whole, as well as the radio DJ's and G-Unit Records' artists.
XXL executive Publisher, Jonathan Rheingold, stated that typically magazines based around particular artists were not favorable, but "since Shade 45 is a truly authentic and uncensored rap radio channel, the marriage with the XXL brand made sense," with the feeling that it is what would interest rap fans.<ref>Carl Chery (August 23, 2005). Eminem & Shade Collabo W/XXL For Special Radio Issue Archived June 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.. SoHH.com. Accessed January 29, 2008.</ref>
In September 2006, XXL put a special 90 minute DVD called XXL DVD Magazine Vol. 1, which featured exclusive interviews and content with big name rappers such as 50 Cent, Ice Cube, Fat Joe, Paul Wall, & Mike Jones.<ref>"Saigon & Ice Cube I'm Talkin' To You - XXL". Xxlmag.com. September 11, 2006. Retrieved January 4, 2014.</ref>
On August 20, 2013 XXL released its 150th issue, also celebrating its sixteenth anniversary. The issue featured the first solo cover on the magazine from Drake, and rappers such as Kendrick Lamar and B.o.B reviewing classic albums.<ref name="xxlmag1" /> Template:Clearleft
XXL Annual Freshman List
Beginning in 2007 (skipping 2008),<ref>Schwab, Isabel (June 4, 2015). "The ‘XXL’ Freshman Class List Is a Joke: Kidd Kidd, Iggy Azalea, ancidneenwjwkk2ko2owoowoododkjcjcjkLunacy". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 19, 2016.</ref> XXL releases its annual Top 10 Freshman list. The issue features ten artists-to-watch, all appearing on the cover of the magazine. The list has a history of showcasing unknown/underground rappers, as well as artists considered to be on the rise. The list creates significant buzz among listeners and artists alike, and is credited for giving many artists their first taste of fame.<ref>"Grading XXL’s Top 10 Freshman List". Refinedhype. Retrieved January 4, 2014.</ref><ref name="XXL">"2010 XXL Freshmen class". xxlmag.com. July 14, 2011.</ref><ref name="XXL2">"2011 XXL Freshmen class". xxlmag.com. July 14, 2011.</ref>