XXL Blogs is officially one year old today. It was on this day last year that I posted my first blog here at xxlmag.com. I had no idea what to expect, and no idea if a largely male, largely American readership would be interested in what a white girl from Canada had to say about rap. Amazingly, a few of you are, and I’m thankful to you for reading and commenting all year. (Shout out to the c-boys.)

Still, I won’t front, there’s been a few times over the last 365 that I’ve wanted to bounce. From time to time, I felt like I’d run out of stuff to talk about, or I got fed up with random dudes talking wild in the comment section, or I got sick of hip-hop being so damn extra all the time, or so self-destructive, or so sexist—and I got ready to pen my break-up letter to hip-hop. You know the drill: “Dear Hip-Hop, it’s not me, it’s you. I need my space. Please give back the keys to my place.” And whatnot. But I never did. And I’m glad that I didn’t. There’s something to be said about being willing to hang in with something and see it through. Plus, you all already know how much love I have for hip-hop. Once you fall in love with the music, it's for life. Despite all the bullshit. All I need to get by, and whatnot.
So, without further ado, here’s what I’ve learned over the last year of mayhem on xxlmag.com:

Blogging at this level is not for the faint of heart. Like every other arena in hip-hop, the more success you get, the more hate comes your way. You get accustomed to being attacked on the regular, and it stops being a big deal.

To thine own self be true. As in other areas of hip-hop, readers can smell a fake from a mile away. There’s nothing we all hate more than someone pretending to be something that they’re not. At a certain point this past year, I realized that all I really have to share is my own perspective. It’s pretty different than the majority of other hip-hop bloggers out there. Truth be told, I’m really not cynical enough to be a hip-hop blogger—I’m far too optimistic. But this last year has shown me that there’s room for lots of different voices in the culture.

Everyone and their uncle wants to be a rap star. Thing is, in the words of Fresh, I’m not Clive Davis. I can’t put you on. Judging from the mail I get, everybody under the sun wants to be a famous rapper. But nobody wants to write. Why is that?

Elliott Wilson walks the walk. The haters are going to be mad at this, but respect is really due to the Boss Man for allowing this site to be so raw and uncut. I remember reading his editorials before I started working for XXL. He used to talk about maintaining integrity in the heart of such a commercial industry, about doing what you love—exactly the way you want to do it—and staying on top. He wasn’t lying. On XXL Blogs, we have zero limitations on what we say. Zero editorial interference. When you work in media, you realize how rare and special that is.

You’d be surprised who reads these blogs. I’ve had everyone from editors at big U.S. publications, to authors, to UPS dudes, to rappers reach out to me about my blog. This music has spoken to me for so long, it’s nice to get a chance to speak back once in a while. Plus, IT guys everywhere know my name, and you really can’t beat that. I kid, I kid.

Shout out to the whole XXL Blogs crew, especially Elliott, B-Fred and Eskay.