I gotta blame 50. It’s all his fault. He made it cool to be a media darling. To be on the cover of any publication big or small that’s willing to put your Black ass on it. From street mags (Feds, Don Diva, Felon) to car mags (Rides, Dub) to White-boy mainstream mags (Rolling Stone, GQ, Blender). Shit, he almost got a King cover but he didn’t want his boo at the time Vivica to get outshined. Yeah I’ve done 50 and various members of G-Unit more than anyone but it ain’t like I haven’t had to share.

Back in the days it was all so simple then. There were only two mags anyone gave a fuck about The Source and Vibe. Big rap artist has new music and 9 times out of 10 he chose to be on the cover of The Source. Go-Go’s formula? Throw ‘em on there the same month the album is released—pure genius. Vibe does artist after he or she goes platinum and becomes legitimate black pop-ular star. Do The Source for the streets and the fellas. Do Vibe for the mainstream acceptance and the ladies. Pac broke the mold though and not getting behind Mr. Thug Life was one of the Bible’s first huge fuck ups.

Today, I’m in The Source’s position (at least until the missus gets her feet planted on solid ground). A big rap artist doesn’t want—he needs that XXL cover. XXL is number one. XXL is the streets. XXL certifies his gangsta. (Notice things here are male referenced, since you muthafuckas don’t seem to care about the ladies of rap like Kim and Foxy judging by my numbers). He’ll give us his story first. The publishing industry is just like Internet nerds infatuated with the word first! Gotta get T.I. on the cover first! No matter what it takes. But it doesn’t always work. Your first can be too early. Especially with these labels constantly pushing records back. These lying-ass publicists and record label scum will lie to your face about released dates to avoid losing their cover to the next artist and his company. It’s a damn shame.

With all this rap industry foul play and muthafuckas thinking that getting Owner’s Illustrated shine entitles you to grace my front page, one must wonder how does XXL always seem to be on top of every story before anyone else. Jay-Z Reasonable Doubt show, Proof’s death, Busta’s bodyguard shooting… Well I ain’t gonna tell you all that. I will tell you who you won’t see on the cover of XXL anytime soon. To name a few: OutKast, Ludacris, Mr. West. These guys are good examples because on paper they have all the stats but for whatever reason they don’t sell magazines. I got the sales figures in my possession to prove it.

The big thing that’s always pitched to us is so-and-so deserves an XXL cover. Like that’s the best reason for why we should do it. In fact, that’s the worst pitch you can have. A single guy doesn’t want to fuck the girl that’s just standing right there ready for his advances. He wants the girl that he’s going to have to work a little bit to finally get. Pac said it, “I don’t want it if it’s that easy.” Common deserves a cover. Ice Cube deserves a cover. LL deserves a cover. Any veteran rap legend that gets it together to put together a new CD out deserves a cover. But none of these aforementioned people are gonna get one either. It’s just not good for business.

So what’s the rest of the year gonna look like for XXL? Wouldn’t you like to know? Just rest easy ‘cause I got a master plan like YZ. I got the gloves on and I’m out here fighting for the covers that everyone else wants. And I gotta do everything I can to get them… You guessed it—first!