“I told y’all I had next/Nigga deal with it.”—Young Jeezy

Trumpets please. I’ve stopped counting the years (six or so). I’ve stopped counting the issues I’ve commandeered (65 or so). I’ve stopped counting the feelings I’ve hurt on this page (I’ll let you industry fucks do the math). I’ve stopped dissing the magazines I’ve crushed (I’ll let you Internet geeks handle that). Check your calendar, it’s the end of the year. So why shouldn’t YN get a little reflective? Here’s a toast to the XXL staff (editorial and business) for continuing our reign of terror. Without revealing my true ABC-audited sales figures (Media Ink and Ad Age, holla atcha folk), I will say that 2005 has been the most successful year in XXL’s existence. Yup, in a climate in which music magazines have sunk, and are virtually dead in the water, YN’s brand rises like a phoenix (the Suns aren’t winning shit this year, though; sorry, baby!).

Before I go any further, my album, XXL Raps Volume 1, is in stores right now. On Razor & Tie Records. Rock solid from top to bottom. You majors only provide major headaches, and Koch is too crowded. How can I sit on the shelf when I’m top shelf? Just doesn’t add up. That’s like denying 50 Cent his sixth XXL cover because a few of you out there are yapping y’all gums. You see, I’ve heard it all before: Interscope owns my yellow ass. Jimmy Iovine is the puppet master, and whatever massa says I do. Oh, boo-hoo! Y’all still smoking that shit? For real, you think my Suge cover made me welcomed at 2220? You think Doc Dre is inviting YN and his crew to his X-mas party? OMG, I don’t even own a Black Eyed Peas CD!

Fuck it, I ain’t afraid to say it. I like 50 Cent. Loved the old mixtapes, and gave him a five-page feature way before he inked up with Marshall and became a Violator—way before he got rich. He knows it, and Sha Money XL knows it. Why shouldn’t I be rewarded by having the inside track on rap’s top thoroughbred? Plus, I like most of his music. (Tell me that Get Rich or Die Tryin’ soundtrack ain’t hot, and you’re just a hater.) But you know what I like most about 50 Cent? Yup, you guessed it. I like that he sells magazines for me. Every single fuckin’ time! As long as he keeps doing that, he’ll keep getting covers—it’s really that simple.

Do you really see things changing anytime soon? Especially given 50’s desire to snatch up talented new recruits? Mobb Deep, M.O.P. and Ma$e have all aligned themselves with rap’s winning team: G-Unit. So why not put them all together, for the first time ever, on the cover of a national magazine? You don’t think it’s gonna sell? Maybe you’re crazy, but I would just praise me. I know y’all are patiently waiting for the official Ma$e comeback story. The Pastor murda man will one day be on the front page tellin’ all, for the first time, of his defection and rap-game resurrection. That “Welcome Back” stuff was pure bullshit, and y’all took the bait. But then again, that’s y’all plight—no insight.

Still, as good as things are, I’m feelin’ real emotional. Feel like a nigga came in and cut off my right hand. Damn, it can’t be true, but this is Bonsu Thompson’s last issue as music editor. That didn’t even feel right typing. Yup, my dude Bezo is bidding us adieu. So what’s YN to do? Shit, salute a brother who held me down from day one. Bonsu, Vanessa Satten and myself formed the most tremendous triumvirate in hip-hop journalism. No one can deny our history, our accomplishments, our memories. We did it, Brooklyn!

Throughout the years, Bonsu has helped the magazine in many ways his title could never truly reflect. I’m elated to say he’s gonna continue to support the magazine with his

writing. I’m gonna continually beg him to do feature stories, as well as have him continue with his 8Ball and Eye Candy columns. And guess what, jailbirds, XXL Presents: Eye Candy is coming December 20 with Bonsu as big boss. Hey, can you really be sad for a guy who hangs out with video girls all day? Ha-ha! Seriously, Bezo’s dreams are real, and he has a lifetime supporter and friend who knows he’ll make them all come true. So here’s another toast, this one to Mr. Thompson. What more can I say? No mosquitos, nigga!

Missing you,

Elliott Wilson