Infinite

In the XXL office, there’s a wall that has almost all of the covers the magazine has ever done posted in chronological order. That includes the multiple or split covers we’ve done, but none of the first 12 issues—that’s a whole other story. Usually anyone who visits us in the office stops to check out the wall of covers and talk about their favorites. Most of the staff, and myself, use it pretty regularly as some sort of tool for reference. I use it for inspiration, definitely. And some thug motivation.

Looking at the wall the other day, I tried to compare all the Jay-Z covers we’ve done to see how the one for this month’s issue was gonna fly. I think it’s just fuckin’ insane! And a lil’ reminiscent of Tha Dogg Pound’s “New York, New York” video, in a weird way. If NYC was covered in marshmallow in their version. Just playin’. You’ve all seen the cover of Jay’s new album, The Blueprint 3. You know what day it comes out, what city he’s from. You get what we did. You see how crazy it is. Shout out to Creative Director Davina Lennard, Photo Editor Mike Delfin (who’s leaving us after this issue; good luck, Mike D!) and Michael Lavine for pulling off a ridiculous concept. It’s amazing what you can do with 30 minutes and some black clothes.

In last month’s 12th-anniversary issue, we said 50 Cent and Jay-Z were tied as the two artists with the most XXL covers of any artists ever—10 each. Jay just took the lead this month with his 11th cover, perfectly timed with the release of his much-anticipated 11th solo album. That’s a hell of a lot of times his mug has been on the cover of our book. In fact, he was on the very first cover of XXL (split with a Mr. Percy Miller). Must mean something, right? It means that a veteran rapper with 13 years in the game has been in demand by this magazine its entire existence. That’s either pathetic or smart. I’m going with the latter, and if you re-read the cover lines, on the front of the mag, you’ll see why.

For Jay fans, this issue will get you excited. Bonsu Thompson asks Hova some tough questions (page 62), and we caught up with the architects of Jay-Z’s classic in The Making of The Blueprint (page 78). Then there’s a real dope Rocawear 10th-anniversary fashion tribute, where our most stylish staff members, Coffey and Smiley, in collaboration with Jameel Spencer over at Rocawear, recreate classic Jigga videos, with models (and Memphis Bleek) wearing Rocawear gear (page 108). The Jay coverage extends to XXLMag.com this month also, with other special features (Jay-Z’s Most Impactful Trends, Top 20 Best Verses, and a few others) and a contest to win 10 bottles of Hov’s new fragrance, X.

But don’t worry, the issue is not all Jay-Z. Come on, folks, some of you have to know me. Kris ex explores the state of lyricism in hip-hop (page 92), our newly named Senior Editor Clover Hope keeps her hip-hop soul going with a story on Trey Songz (page 102), and Anslem Samuel (a member of my inner parachuting circle) catches up with Raekwon (page 98). Rae’s got a real strong album on his hands, people. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt.II isn’t quite a classic, but The Chef stepped up to the plate on this project. The problem is it’s just too long! Check out Play by Play (page 124) for a review.

This one was a tough one, folks. Thanks to the staff for the late nights and hard work and to our Managing Editor, Taiia Smart Young, who holds our ship together every month. When the ship goes down, ya better be ready! But don’t worry, XXL’s floating just fine.

  • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

    What’s up Vanessa? Congrats on getting out another issue in an economic climate in which nothing is guaranteed.

    I’ve been a Jay fan for years and I love his new commercial for BP3 where he shoots every album cover but I’m just not feeling the project. In my humble opinion, I think Rae’s album is much better than Jay’s.

    That’s all I got…

  • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

    J7M!

    (almost forgot)

  • Jericho

    But don’t worry, the issue is not all Jay-Z.

    ^^

    Really? Could have fooled me.

    Jay-Z is all I’ve been seeing on here in the last few weeks. Must be nice to be able to buy that kind of publicity even if the product is meh…

  • Jericho

    But don’t worry, the issue is not all Jay-Z.

    ^^

    Really? Could have fooled me.

    Jay-Z is all I’ve been seeing on here in the last few weeks. Must be nice to be able to buy that kind of publicity even if the product is meh…

    Why do I even bother? This comment is probably never going to be put on…

  • capcobra

    i stopped buying xxl the magazine after i discovered xxlmag.com.

  • SOUTHSIDE A-TOWN

    “Usually anyone who visits us in the office stops to check out the wall of covers and talk about their favorites.”
    ^^i would love to do that. i could spend a while talking about them covers. shit, i own damn near every one from 2000-2006 (ya’ll kind of fell off for a minute).

  • Silly Chilly Willy

    Hi, Ness!

    Keep up the good work. I really like BP3, huge fan. I really love OB4CL2, so huge fan too.

    That means I gotta disagree on something. When you go see a Spike Lee joint, you know what’s up. So if there should be a criticism about the joint, it should never be “it was too long”. You knew it when you knew who made it. Same thing with Rae. And we, the fans, have been fiending for this album for years so, he had to come correct and respect that by delivering a solid album and not pulling a Be (too short, no dog).

    One question though, you can refuse to respond, but I’d like to know: how do you guys pick the guest blogger spot? Sometimes, it seems so brilliant, sometimes not so much (I ain’t saying no names).

    Good luck to Mike D.

    Thanks, Ness

    J7M and I’m out!

  • General

    Why didn’t you just make Jay the guest EIC for this issue…

    Coupla good features in this issue though…

    I do have to say that it is time to switch up how you rate CD’s when you review them, because ain’t no way in hell that Asher Roth’s CD nor several others this year that you gave an XL should have gotten the same rank as Rae’s new CD…that shit makes no sense

    • latino heat

      @ General

      that’s the same thing i’ve been saying about the album reviews. they just don’t add up.

      XXL can deny it all they want but we all know there’s a reason shit like Asher Roth gets the same review as Raekwon. cough*money*cough. when you can ask ANYBODY on this site or on the street and EVERYBODY will tell you which album was better. nobody would tell you they were equal. except for some reason, cough*money*cough XXL. seems strange dosen’t it?

  • Silly Chilly Willy

    This may be the worst idea I ever had, but I thought of this while reading the drop about the “Beyoncé is for the kids!” scandal.

    How about interviewing a person who is remotely related to hip-hop, or letting them do one post on how it could’ve affected them. I mean, we talk about how hiphop is a culture, and the artform and all that. And many of our most proeminent representatives have worked with people with no hiphop credentials (the Coldplay, Lenny Kravitz, Korn, John Mayer, Adam Levine, etc…).

    Of course it wouldn’t be every week, or a permanent spot about “foreign affairs” for XXL, but should be interesting from time to time.

    What d’yall think ?

    J7M

  • latino heat

    this will be the first XXL mag i buy in over a year. i’m wondering though, why the r&b article? i guess you guys are trying to grab some of the old Vibe fan base?

    can we get a explanation as to why the first 12 issues aren’t on the wall with the rest of them? i’m sure we all want to know this now that you mentioned it.

    J7M.

  • Brooklyn

    ob4cl2 does have mad songs on it, but most of them are good so i don’t have a problem with that. it’s definitely better than bp3.

  • http://myspace.com/devitan Devi Gargon

    Ok XXL Bloggers, Ill level with you.

    I thought all the Rae love was some anti jigga shit, though Cuban Linx 1 is my favorite album. OK, I’ve had it for 3 days, and I play it in its entirety EVERYTIME!!! Too long my ass XXL, have our attention spans gotten so short that 22 perfectly put together tracks is too much. Did yall forget about the late nineties. Life after death,wu tang forever, Capital punishment, any Master P album. Rae gave us our moneys worth, thats what the fuck he did!!!!

    And yeah, Its shitting on HOVA right now!

    • DetroitDraper

      @ Devi Gargon
      Im a young cat(23) so I just copped that OB4CL original about 4months ago after hearin all the good ratings on here and it actually stood up. Ob4cl is a undeniable classic right up there with Nas and Jiggas debut disks. The second ones good. I prefer The Blood on Chefs Apron mixtape a lil more.

      MAYN HOL’UP

  • Rashaan

    The new xxl mag is definitely on point. Cuban Linx is not 2 long. As someone who been waiting for Linx 2, i think Rae did the right thing by giving us 22 tracks. Can we please get a Rakim article?

  • DJ

    I cant even take Jay serious since he started dressing like a homo, he used to set trends now he’s just an old dude trying to cater to what’s in style with the young kids and making an ass out of himself while doing it. I cant even say I dont like his past few albums because I wouldnt even bother listening to them online to see if I want to buy them.

  • DJ

    I cant even take Jay serious since he started dressing like a homo, he used to set trends now he’s just an old dude trying to cater to what’s in style with the young kids and making an ass out of himself while doing it. I cant even say I dont like his past few albums because I wouldnt even bother listening to them online to see if I want to buy them. .

  • Decker

    DJ,shoot urself.Did u have anything important 2 say or did u just want 2 spread ur hate.U must be a frustrated fool,who told u Jay-Z cares if a hater like u buys his albums.His fans care 4 his product & his numbers don’t lie.About setting trends,do u know that d Gov of NY came 2 his concert on Friday or that he has a place in Nigeria(Africa) named after him?U don’t have any facts 2 back up ur stupidity.Jay-Z is the Cesear of Hiphop.Get a life & stop hating on his success.

  • Jhon da Analyst

    WTF??!!! Don’t go dissin Rae’s shit. That album is mad hot and well worth the wait. Fuckin XXL………..u niggas kill me!!!