Today ain’t the day, and I ain’t the one. To be perfectly honest, I sometimes get sick of this shit. This editorial shit. This bare-your-inner-soul-on-the-page-next-to-the-masthead mess. This YN persona—the monster I created. You wanna know how I really feel about things? Jay-Z’s return to rap? Diddy getting his swagger back? 50 Cent diving headfirst into the mixtape scene again? Why the Clipse got an XXL in the issue? Is it definitely over for OutKast this time? Will the Nas album really come out this year? Well, I got answers, but I ain’t sharing.

You see, it’s not good for business, so it’s none of your business. The hip-hop industry is so suspect right now I might have to chomp on my pacifier until I retire.

Also trying to hold his tongue is this month’s cover star, The Game. Our favorite Blood doesn’t throw Curtis under the bus. In fact, he reaches out for a cease-fire. (I assume the freestyle he just put out over the Lloyd Banks beat was recorded before the interview. Or dare I say Game is talking out both sides of his mouth?) Hey, didn’t these guys try to make nice before? Wasn’t there some press conference? Anyway, don’t expect to see Fif and Chuck Taylor sittin’ side by side at the VMAs no time soon. And no, at press time we still don’t know if Dr. Dre’s production is gonna be on the Doctor’s Advocate. Or is the shit called Devil’s Advocate? Only time will tell, so go to hell.

Still, I gotta give the West Coast savior his props. I got a stinking suspicion that dude is gonna slide right by the sophomore jinx. Let’s put our money up: I got 5Gs on J.T. You’ll see. In fact, it’s probably the best thing for hip-hop. Great Game leads to a terrific third album by Fif and then comes Em and, dare we say, Dre. Then maybe ’07 won’t suck a big one the way ’06 has. Gotta have hope when shit ain’t dope. Seriously, can you believe that T.I. has the only album to come out this year and move over a million units? What are you fuckers listening to? Downloading all your favorite songs on your iPods now?

This was the year the Internet stuck its foot up hip-hop’s ass. You MCs aren’t making entire albums worth coppin’, so no one’s coppin’ ’em. The kids are just taking a couple of your hot joints and putting them on their own personal playlist, next to their seventeen favorite Southern joints. I went with the wife to a Mets game the other night, and some racist cracker in front of me was really getting his “Shoulder Lean” on. I almost wanted to hurl my hot dog up. Thank God, Yung Joc didn’t come on, or dude might have knocked my beer out my hand doin’ that damn motorcycle dance. Yeah, we keep puttin’ out the hits but the genre’s going to bits. It’s the pits. How many of these scrubs will even be around next year? I think y’all know the answer.

I don’t know how we’re goin’ to get our Games People Play column done now that my homie Just Blaze has retired. I remember betting my former lifestyle editor Paula T. 500 bones that Mr. Smith wouldn’t last a year. Instead, he did three and change. How real is that? Plus, dude DJed my wedding—not on some industry shit, on some real-life shit. So for that, my man will always have a special place in my heart. Let’s just make sure that Saigon album lives up to the hype. Or else!

Also bidding us adieu is Ms. Mary Choi, who leaves XXL after this joint hits the streets. She’s held me down on the personal and professional through the good and the bad days, and I’ll always be there for her if she needs me. She probably won’t though. She’s one tough Korean broad who I don’t worry about. Don’t hurt ’em, H.K. Ha!

I need Jesus in my life,

Elliott “Many Money-Makin’ Ways” Wilson

P.S. Forgot to shout out the dynamic duo Davina and Mike for the dandy redesign. Let’s get it!