I’m fresh off the honeymoon—the honeymoon is over, bitches. Still jet-lagged from my short vaca, but it’s safe to say ’05’s been a hell of a year so far for the kid and his company. We’ve been moving mags off the newsstands like Chappelle DVDs. While y’all go bust, I’m kicking up the dust. We gonna win. They gonna lose. Wait til the next audit to see what I mean, ’knawmean?

Thanks again for your $3.95, ’cause in your hands is another winner. I know it’s technically another Interscope cover, but if you think about it, The Game’s relationship with Iovine is rockier than Balboa, so it shouldn’t even really count. The Game is a troublemaker like Woody Woodpecker. How are we not gonna document his outta-control antics? Since we last put Game on the cover (making Photoshop magic with Snoop Dogg), he’s been kicked out of G-Unit, his friend was allegedly popped by one of 50 Cent’s bodyguards, he had a staged press conference with his former boss to squash the beef, and he’s currently engaged in a new war of words with Curtis Jackson and his entire G-Unit crew. He affectionately calls them G-Unot! Hey, can a brother get a free T-shirt? While we’re at it: Paul, where’s my Jew Unit shirt? Like baseball cards, I’ll collect them all.

Yup, XXL was on-point once again. Andréa Duncan-Mao (that’s right, she’s my man’s wife—show some respect or get your chin checked) was rolling with the Black Wall Street the day of the Hot 97 Summer Jam debacle. She was there as they copped G-Unit T’s and rat suits. That’s reporting, scrubs! We knew Dr. Dre’s problem child was gonna pull some stunt, and we were ready, willing and able to send a writer to capture it all. Don’t hate the players. Hate the game. Not The Game. Hate The Game or love The Game. But, hate the rap game. Be mad that all my covers this year have had some relationship to 50 Cent and Jay-Z, but ask yourself, what else have you computer geeks been posting about? Either I’m a genius or y’all are a bunch of dumb-asses? It’s probably both.

It’s XXL’s 8th Anniversary. I’m six years deep this month. Even though we’re living in the YN era, I still got respect for those who came before me. From Reginald C. Dennis (he got the Internet goin’ nuts) to Robert “Scoop” Jackson, who’s got the NBA in a headlock and he ain’t letting go. On our birthday, I must toast those who’ve been here through the years, like Kenny Rogers. Starting with the first generation: Bezo and Nessa, you complete the triumvirate (look it up!). We built this magazine together from day one. Thanks for continuing to astound me with your dedication. To Leah Rose, thanks for your hard work and for riding for the cause. You’re the secret weapon, and there’s much more in store for you. To Rommel, Davina and Sally, I can’t take credit for having the wisdom to hire you, but I have been blessed to work with you through the years. You guys are extremely devoted to making this magazine look great. My respect for y’all continues to grow.

I have said it before: The key to our success was my ability to keep our core group together for better or for worse. Still, our second generation is coming on strong. To Mary Choi, thanks for holding me down personally and professionally. The sky’s the limit for you—soon you won’t always have to answer my phone To Jack Erwin, you keep it thoro like Prodigy. Thanks for making us have to hire you. To Branden J. Peters, thanks for bringing a new voice and taking over the mag’s most difficult section. To Juleyka Lantigua, thanks for accepting the challenge and making us so much more efficient. I never said it would be easy. LOL!

Can’t forget to thank the karaoke champ, Chris Ehrmann, my always fashionable bodyguards, Smiley and Coffey, the homie O, L-L-L-Larry, JR and the ad dept., and the only man to have worked for me and my wife, Dave “Big Poppa” Bry. The Bryster’s the best editor in the biz. Please believe it! Peace to Paula, Zena, Gabe, Derek, Rodd and all the others who planted their flags here. It’s our history and I’m proud of it. Maybe this marriage shit has got a nigga type sensitive. Too bad! I dare you to read something else.

One hundred percent,

Elliott Wilson

P.S. I got now. I don’t care who got next.