“That’s harder to figure out than what’s really goin’ on between Dame and Jay.”

—Joe Budden, “I’m a Hustla” freestyle

It’s never fun to get barked on by Dame Dash. Y’all remember that classic scene from Backstage when Dame, angry at Def Jam for making tour jackets minus the Roc-A-Fella logo, rips into the label’s former president, Kevin Liles? Well, your boy YN got it the same last fall. The crime I committed? I was found guilty of disrespecting the Roc-A-Fella name in the court of the volatile cakeaholic.

I ain’t gonna lie; this cover will hopefully rectify that relationship. But truth be told, Dame Dash deserves this cover. For 10 years he helped build Roc-A-Fella Records into the dynasty he and his partners, Jay-Z and Kareem “Biggs” Burke, kept insisting it was. Indeed, Jigga will go down one day as the greatest rapper of all-time (that’s right, the G.O.A.T, fuckers!), but without his hardworking, ball-breaking, take-no-shit pit bull by his side, the road to the riches would have been much harder for Shawn Carter. Holla!

Let us also not forget that Dame signed fellow coverboy Cam’ron to Roc-A-Fella, which increased Killa’s cash flow and star power, and empowered him to launch his Diplomats movement. Dip Set’s the modern-day Wu-Tang, chumps—hate it or love it. At press time, Cam was still hip-hop’s hottest free agent after deciding to pack his bags once his homie Dame was no longer a part of the brand he helped create. Also, be clear: Dash believed in Kanye West way before many of us ever took him seriously as an MC.

Whether or not the Damon Dash Music Group pops off (let’s hope L.A. truly has dude’s back), Dame’s contributions to this culture are undisputed. And the public’s fascination with the breakup between the principals of this record company continues to grow, especially for those thirsty for beef and hungry for drama. Did Jay really cut his partners out behind their backs? Is Dame Dash done? Who’s signed to whom? What’s Beanie Sigel really got to say about all this? How can these two successful businessmen co-exist in the same building?

We got one side of the story direct from Dame Dash himself. Hopefully, Jay will come to our pages one day and explain his view on things. We’re not taking sides here. We didn’t sign to the fuckin’ label, so we don’t have to. Two young Black entrepreneurs have parted ways, and we want to support both movements: Dame’s Damon Dash Music Group and Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records. No time for bogus boycotts. Why should the Young Gunz suffer?

This is the premier hip-hop magazine, and this is our job. There’s 99 other mags, but XXL is the one. The one that reaches the national hip-hop audience more than any other. The one that profiles that conscious cat with the classic album, Common. The one that allows Cassidy another forum for his outrageous statements. The one that’s not afraid to go Down South with the Ying Yang Twins to a strip club or two. The one that’s broadening its horizon by profiling undergound rap sensation MF Doom. Find out what’s behind the mask, muthafuckas.

Here’s something else you can get behind: XXL’s 20 Greatest Diss Songs. That’s right new jacks, we ’bout to take you back. Way back. Back when Antoinette had that attitude. Tim Dog put the East Coast on his back. LL’s grandma woke up the sleeping giant. The AWOL Nigga With Attitude told Jerry Heller to kiss his Black ass. Hova resurrected Nas’ career. And 2Pac spit the realest shit he ever wrote, making a diss record as personal as a diary entry.

Today’s beefs (including T.I./Lil’ Flip’s everlasting feud—see our always attention-grabbing 360 opener!) just haven’t produced any classic material (fuck Brian Coleman!). Clickity-clank, we must be frank. We don’t want to hurt your feelings, but if you MCs truly hate each other, can you at least come up with some wittier 16’s? Stop throwing jabs and promising knockout blows. Hit us with your best shot. Fire away!

Again, in parting, we got our fingers crossed that Shawn Corey’s true story will be told in XXL. Thanks, Dame, for sharing yours with us. The only side we’re on is ours. But if anybody feels a way, then that’s okay. We got Jimmy Iovine’s number anyways… LOL! I’m just playing. Still, anyway the wind blows, we’ll stay on our grizzly ’cause we gets bizzy. Just like PMD. Get off the bandwagon, suckers. And a-yo!


Elliott “I’m never goin’ nowhere so don’t try me” Wilson