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The Learning (Burn)

50 Cent clearly the biggest rapper at the time was the guest editor of XXL’s 50th issue. Might not have been my most ethical move but I thought it was genius. 50 Cent—50th issue. First cover of him by himself on XXL. Knew it would sell. Big. Problem was of course you give Curtis the wheel and he’s gonna run down a few people. The biggest drama I remember was the Joe Budden step your rap game up and of course the backpage of Zino and his son. Truly a low blow. But we we’re at war at the time and I didn’t pay it enough mind.

I was surprised the day Ray and the fellas decided to trek to my XXL cave. My baby bro Steven aka PreZZure the myspace MC was there helping me sort my many mixtape CDs. Suddenly a call came from the front desk, a group of men were here to see me. A group of men is never a good sign. I immediately said to no one in particular, “Someone and his friends are here to beat my ass.” I assumed it was probably Kim Osorio’s baby’s daddy or something but in fact it was her boss. He IDed himself to the receptionist as Smokey Fontaine and he was cleared to enter the office. His boys stayed in the lobby. I immediately signaled to my music editor Bonsu at the time that I was headed up front to address the intruder alert.

Me and Ray met mano-a-mano in the hall. I tried to keep it cool. “What’s up Ray?” I extended my hand and I think I touched his shoulder. He brushed me off. “Don’t touch me, Elliott. We need to talk.” “All right let’s go up front,” I said. I was trying to get Ray to go to a front office so we could speak in private but he wasn’t having it. He ushered me towards the lobby and me wanting to seem like I wasn’t a punk followed. Bezo warned me, “Don’t go in the hall, Ell.” I opened the door but stepped back into the reception area which Ray bum rushed through earlier. “Alright Ray, we need to talk here, what’s up.”

From there he proceeded to give me one of the most vicious tongue-lashings anyone could ever take. It was some Lou Piniella and an umpire shit. He was foaming at the mouth like a dog in heat. Saying it and spraying it like Michael A Gonzales at an industry party. Basically the gist of it was he wanted to eliminate from me the planet. I thought for sure he was gonna deck me. By then his boys had gathered on one side and my staff was on the other. I felt all closed in. I thought about my brother trying to explain to my moms why EJ looks like the Elephant Man. I still remember Mays nervously sitting on the front bench refusing to make eye contact with me while his boy wilded out.

Basically things finally cooled down when I told Ray I would stop dissing The Source in editorials and in the magazine. “I’m serious, Elliott!,” he kept shouting. “And Kim too!” he barked. “Kim too,” I said. Then after getting into it with my fashion editors he and Beantown’s finest were ready to bounce before the cops came. I’m no tough guy but I had to get a final dart off. I mumbled, “I still feel like I’m number one though.” Ray snapped, “It ain’t about number one. All niggas can eat. It ain’t about that.”

Where the Nas cover fits in is Ray and them had heard my next cover was gonna be QB’s finest burning a copy of The Source. That’s also part of the reason why they came up there. But the original plan was always for Nas to burn a Source cover in one hand and an XXL one in the other. In fact, he also burned a Felon, Blaze, Murder Dog any cover with him on it that we could find. Y’all cyber youngn’s say it’s a classic but it actually didn’t sell as well as it should of. In retrospect, I don’t even know if it was worth all the drama. Suffice it is to say, that was a crazy time.

Sidebar: It’s din din time at the Wilson casa so if I’m late with my 9pm post don’t shoot me. Or threaten me. I’m a peaceful yellow brother, you know. Never a thug. Flipped words. Not birds.

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