NOPE, I DON’T KNOW WHEN Detox is coming. Yes, we did shoot Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre together for this cover. And, yes, it would look cool if Dre was reaching out with his hand on Kendrick’s shoulder. But that didn’t happen, and it doesn’t matter. This is a great cover for XXL’s special 15th birthday, and it’s perfect that for the issue we have one of our past Freshmen on the cover. With Dr. Dre.

The big 15 is important; it proves our longevity. We started thinking about what makes something or someone stick around or succeed in hip-hop. There are no guidelines on how to win in this game, so we asked 65 rappers and industry folk what rules they have used to survive. Then we thought about all the same things we’ve watched different rappers do over and over, and figured we could help some of them out. It’s rules to this shit, so we wrote them a manual. There’s a lot more in the mag, but you must flip forward to find out. I leave you with a list of 15 rules XXL’s learned to live by in order to make the best rap mag around.

1. Never believe a rapper is going to call you back.
2. Be familiar with the background and music of people you interview. Impress them with your knowledge of them.
3. Assume a rapper will be about two hours late—to whatever. Sure, it could be more or less, but a good guess is two hours late.
4. Don’t be a groupie. MCs probably don’t wanna be your friend. You shouldn’t want to be theirs.
5. Don’t call anyone from an unavailable or blocked number.
6. Sometimes you gotta give rappers more credit, sometimes you gotta give them less.
7. Don’t be too disappointed when a rapper you supported early on ignores you.
8. Don’t be surprised when you find out some rappers are more insecure than you thought.
9. Don’t be surprised when you find out an industry friend lied to you; be a good friend back when they throw you a bone.
10. You get offered money for coverage. Never accept it—it's a short cut to an even shorter career.
11. Don’t get intimidated. Ask tough questions. If not, someone else will.
12. Live the culture: Visit studios, travel, hit clubs. This can’t be done at a desk 24/7. That’s blogging.
13. Try to not be too let down when you find out your favorite rapper is a jerk.
14. Don’t tweet, Instagram or Facebook everything. There’s nothing like an ace up your sleeve.
15. No promises. Hip-hop folks have long memories when they want and then get sudden amnesia.

Now it’s that puff, puff, pass shit, Cheech and Chong grass shit/Blunts to the head, kush pillows, no mattress,