Number #1 With A Bullet…
For my flight back up top from Atlanta I copped the latest issue of XXL with your boy Lil’ Wang on the cover. I also bought the latest from the Source and VIBE. As a print publication dealing with Hip-Hop, XXL has no peers but there are still some things that the paper version could do better in my eyes. First would be to to mail me an effing copy monthly. Every time I buy an XXL or King I am spending my Dutch Master money. You would think that I could get a gratis copy of those mags for the simple fact that grind for the evil empire.
VIBE is a lifestyle magazine, so they don’t really count in the discussion of Hip-Hop publications since VIBE has that crossover R&B access that XXL doesn’t have. Even though rap music has become as watered down and vapid as R&B it still isn’t really R&B, no matter how much Lil’ Wang gets on the auto-tune and sings with a guitar(?). I did like VIBE’s style this month though as they attempted to become edgier and less of a starfucker rag. At the end of the day though VIBE isn’t throwing anyone under the bus that isn’t already there. They’re still cracking jokes on Whitney Houston. Is she still alive?
The Source is XXL’s legitimate competition although it’s looking really unfair now like a Celtics versus Hornets game. The Source being the Hornets, of course. It’s not even a matter of how far the Source has fallen, but the fact that they don’t have any credibility anymore. They can establish their street cred again with some great writing and I see the Source has some good writers submitting features like the one on graf artist KET, but then they shoot themselves in the foot with graphics that are illegible or just plain ridiculous. Who wants to read that shit? I think for too long magazines that have targeted describing the urban lifestyle take our savvy for style and design for granted. You won’t need retahded fonts when your writing is good.
I have been accused at times of being a Harris Publications dickrider and I would expect that level of criticism to come from the da-dunn da-dunts that type in all capital letters. The truth is that XXL runs the rap publishing shit, but could still step up their game for describing the Hip-Hop culture’s lifestyle impact. Here’s the question… What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Can Harris Publications afford to be a trailblazer and add features to their magazine that discuss economics and social-political stories? Would XXL be willing to go in with a monthly feature on the 2008 presidential election? What about the real life story of how many rappers are two steps from filing for bankruptcy?
Real life politics and real life economics usually take a back seat to the virtual world of consumption without a conscience. I wouldn’t want XXL to turn into some Black Enterprise/Robb Report/The Nation type periodical if it meant that all the readers that normally came here would leave for the nearest lowest common denominator magazine. Do you think Hip-Hop still has the ability to take itself seriously as a culture, or are we just clowning around from here on in?