Can’t Deny It


Okay, so I got the job. I’m the Editor-In-Chief of XXL magazine. I’m gonna look at the past several-plus years as a very long job interview with an outcome I didn’t expect but am thrilled to get. Now things are really about to take off, and everything is in good hands. Trust. It’s all about the planning, and I learned that from the best. Truly.

I can’t even get into how things at the mag might change. We don’t have the time. All there really is time for anymore are meetings, editing and shipping. But I promise you that the XXL you know and love will stay the XXL you know and love. You might even love it a lil’ more.

Faithful readers of this mag should be familiar with our annual R&B book, XXL Presents: Hip-Hop Soul. This year, we did things a little different. With all these rappers singing, singers rapping, and everyone working together, we decided to make an issue of the regular mag dedicated to the collaboration between rap and R&B. It’s The Hip-Hop Soul Issue. (For the R&B haters, if there is such a thing, don’t worry, this is just for an issue.) The cover is a special one for us. First off, it looks great. Thank you, Davina. Second, two artists that were obvious choices share it. Fabolous, who’s got two platinum plaques, two gold ones and is about to release his fifth solo album, Loso’s Way. He’s also done over 200 R&B collabos in his career so far, which is insane and a fun fact from Rob the Music Ed’s Fab story on page 44.

And The-Dream, who is today’s main R&B hit machine. He sold over 150,000 records (um, big numbers these days, folks) this past March, in the first week for his second album, Love vs. Money, he’s collaborating with, producing or writing for major artist after artist, he has a very public relationship with Christina Milian, and he hasn’t been on the cover of a major magazine yet. It seemed like it was about time someone gave him a fuckin’ cover, right? Perfect with F-A-B-O for The Hip-Hop Soul Issue. Especially since they’ve got three songs out together now. Check out Clovito’s interview with Dream (and Tina) on page 54.

Other stories to check out this issue are our list of 10 talented hip-hop soul singers, songwriters and producers to look out for in 2010, kris ex’s passionate piece on Tariq of The Roots, an essay on the history of rap and R&B collaborations by Thomas G., and a cool story on the making of some of hip-hop soul’s smash hits, including the biggest of all time, “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By.” Unfortunately, Method Man just didn’t/wouldn’t talk to us about this, for some reason, but Mary and RZA had some great memories about hip-hop soul’s most important song. Maybe Meth didn’t want to tribute it? Who knows…

The magazine has seen a few changes over the past couple of years, but that’s a good thing. What do you expect? Times change. Things change. Gotten harder. There are more politics. More chefs in the kitchen. Too many chiefs. But, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what happened. What matters is that I know my hip-hop, and so does my staff, and you can be assured that none of that is a problem. My staff beats yours. And I don’t even know who you are anymore, because there are, like, no more magazines left. However, let’s not forget that XXL is also a daily Web site ( packed with new, original, and aggregated hip-hop content. So then I guess my staff beats yours there, too. Ha! Shout-out to the rest of the staff: Taiia, Carl, Jesse, Mike D, Travis, Smiley, Coffey, Neli, Dave, David and Bonsu.

And we’re off…

Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • Pierzy

    Congrats on the gig…

    Now on to more important matters – any more guest bloggers? Ha.

    • Pierzy

      By the way, I’m Pierzy. Don’t worry – you’ll get to know me…

      • Tony Grand$

        Lol. Cosign.

        Tony Grand$……you better ask somebody.


        • EReal

          Welcome to the sinking ship! Have fun gettin ya feet wet!

          She said 150K is BIG NUMBERS PEOPLE!

          QUIT HATIN! lol.

          btw, I’m EReal, and I think you should fire that professional dickrider Dallas Penn.

        • $ykotic

          Naw E I gotta disagree with you on that.

          Dallas Penn is Commission. Official issue.

          Vanessa congrats. Please keep an open mind.

          Give love to the pioneers.


        • EReal

          Damn man, Ill go as far as saying he has his moments. When he keeps the slobberdom to a minimum.

          His taste in music is straight tho.

          There, I’m not a hater now.

        • $ykotic



  • DV8

    Congrats on the promotion. You’ve earned it. Its been a long journey (I remember reading alot of your articles throughout the years) Now its time to put that hiphop knowledge on display.


    dats wassup. congrats man. dat Loso-Dream issue sounds like the bidness, probably will be the first xxl actual magazine that i will go pickup out the store in a long time. looks like things are about to change for the better… congrats again & i wish u much success.

  • OG Matt Herbz

    A female editor, whuuut?! Somebody hold me back…

    –OG Matt Herbz–

    p.s.- Welcome to XXL, your work is cut out for you.

  • Azhar

    Happy for u homie, now to da bidness whassup wit do lack of cd reviews:

    Hell Rell
    Mos Def

    All these artists released cd’s this past month or so no reviews on their cd’s

    • latino heat

      what difference does it make. i’ll tell you right now what grade they would have got from XXL. Freeway, Mos Def, Cam’ron all L. Hell Rell, AZ both M. is there anything more predictable then XXL reviews? if your not on a major or have no real buzz then no XL for your album.

  • geico lizard

    “And we’re off…” Uh yeah off like a prom dress…ba-zing. Good job Vanessa, can we see some pictures of you?

    • Bobo D

      Dam it’s only been a cold minute and you already asking *in John Witherspoon voice* NEKED PICTURES!!! You probably just watched that movie Brown Sugar with that hot female XXL editor.

      Anyhoo congrats. Oh yeah not trying to tell you how to do your job, but can you try and push more articles about rappers from other countries (and I don’t mean Drake).

  • $ykotic

    Oh yeah Vanessa we would like for you to come talk to us! We know you’re busy and all but still…

    • EmCDL

      COMMISSION! (even though I’m always late with it LOL)

      But congrats for the promotion. I’m EmCDL you’ll get to know me too…I tend to always add my two or three cents in here and there. Will you also be bringing back the Scratch blogs?

  • Jamal7Mile

    Congrats, Vanessa!!

    Didn’t read the article or comments yet, but I KNOW that you’re going to do the right thing on the next XXL cover and put a 4-page Slaughter House layout.

    You know… Tha Bricks, Cali, NYC, and my absolute favorite…

    (all together now)


    You know what? You should put THE COMMENTERS of on the cover!

    Or, if not the cover, give a coupla mofos some shine “inside” of the ink print rag!! The Commision EARNED that respect! PARIS done fkin’ EARNED the right to list his playlist in the mag!

    The BLOGGERS are fking incredible!!!! DallasPenn, Bol crazy ass, Ron Mexico??? AAAHHHH!!! Rob, the Real MoFukkin’ Rap Editor?

    Vanessa, your name is REALLY recognizable. Every name up above that I’ve mentioned is only the tip of the iceberg. You should see who I beef with on other articles on e-XXL. Them lost niggas need jobs, too.

    I’m trying to vouch for ‘em too, but they probably won’t recognize the fact… so fuck ‘em!!

    Vanessa, I wanna send you … nah, scratch a resume.

    Just plain ol holla at a Journalist (gside, I see you homie).


    • Tony Grand$

      “Or, if not the cover, give a coupla mofos some shine “inside” of the ink print rag!! The Commision EARNED that respect!”

      Ha! Cosign…….

      True story, I met someone & she asked me was I the “Tony Grand$” from XXL. I’m like “nah, what you talking about?”. This was before the guest blogs. So, she sent me an email of where my comments on a couple of pieces made it into the print.

      Like $yk has said time & time again, they’re watching AND reading.

      • $ykotic

        * Re-post off the Rap Ring thread *

        Sh*t if I had the bread like that I would sponsor a commenter’s weekend(Commission presidential suites) and let ya’ll go at it for like 5 stacks.

        Then I’d record it and take Smiley’s job.

        @ Grand$

        One of my homies in the game told me he reads all of our comments. And also I got almost 200 hits off of posting newyawka’s reply to ya’ll on my myspace page.

        My Commission dudes are celebrities…

        • EmCDL


  • Chip

    I believe Kanye said that before Boosie…he seems like a better person to quote…

  • Down-South-Cat-Who-Knows-More-About-Hip-Hop-Than-U

    Maybe Method Man didnt wanna speak about the song because he doesnt make money off of it. Hmmmmmmm

  • Brass Tacks

    Talk about doin the damn thang!

  • Max Profit


    Good Luck!!

  • Silly Willy

    Congrats, Vanessa !!!

    First off, PLEEEEEAAAASEE!!!! Don’t go down the Yellow Nigga road Wilson-style!!

    But mostly, help us keep hip-hop alive. Give some love to some real cats.

    Peace !

  • Sleepy Wonder

    We’ll See Where This Goes….