So we’re back to regular XXL this issue. Aight! Last month, we shook it up a lil’ bit with the first-annual Hip-Hop Soul issue, just to show y’all we know our R&B also. Rappers are showing their soft sides; why can’t XXL? But we’ve returned to straight hip-hop this month, and I was wrong—it’s not regular XXL. There are some changes. With a new editor, there always has to be a bit of newness, freshness. We’ve tweaked some sections, moved a few columns around, deaded the ones no one seemed to care about (Classic Material, Truth, Remember the Time). There are a few art changes, and some of the things you might not even notice until future XXL’s . Particularly because this is the anniversary issue, so it’s still not a traditional mag. In fact, it’s our 12th birthday. Now we’re old enough to make our own beat, rap a verse and create a dance!

We’ve been documenting this fickle game of hip-hop for a dozen years—chasing loved and hated rappers (you know which you are), reviewing classic and trash albums and everything in between, retouching Eye Candies, making stories, breaking stories, dealing with difficult publicists and dope ones (you know which you are), building a Web site ( and taking our grind from monthly to also daily, then juggling both and staying on top. During my time here, I’ve loved every minute of it (except when people play industry games, don’t respond to e-mails, leak information, etc.). And I believe we’ve done a pretty good job along the way. (Wanna complain? Go write a blog somewhere, or catch me at

To celebrate this special month, we interviewed one of our favorites (my favorites), Young Jeezy, who’s currently working on his fourth solo album, Thug Motivation 103. He talked some shit, folks, kept it real, as always, but went a lil’ deeper this time around. He’s taking it back to the trap on 103 and figuring out how to best mix his rap-star, Forbes-top-20 Jeezy and the trap-star Jeezy together. Not a bad problem. And the music’s hot. You should’ve heard his new tape, DJ Folk’s Trappin’ Ain’t Dead, by now, and you can catch him on the Most Wanted tour, with Lil Wayne and Drake.

To continue the party (nonstop partying over here), we caught up with 12 artists and CEOs who have graced the front of XXL since the mag’s birth, in September 1998. We wanted to hear their thoughts on their covers (who doesn’t like to see themselves on the front of a magazine?) and this publication’s impact. Thanks to the staff for trying to and successfully locking down all of the special-package interviews, while still taking care of your regular responsibilities. Thank you to the 12 who took the time (10 to 45 minutes, depending on the person) to answer some of our anniversary questions. Screw the rappers who straight left us hanging, especially those who got covers in the last seven months.

Moving on, folks, it’s the September issue—a moment of silence for Tupac Shakur. September 2009 marks the 13th anniversary of his death. If we had anything left to write about him or a picture you haven’t seen, we’d put him on the cover, ’cause you’d still buy it, but this is not the case. Regardless, RIP to one of hip-hop’s all-time greatest.

That’s it for now. I’ll leave you with a lil’ nugget of a rumor: It might be just a couple more weeks before the Shyne era begins. Could be interesting, right?

Light up,

P.S. I wanna welcome our new Senior Editor, Matt Barone and Associate Editor,
John Kennedy, to the team.