There’s nothing like a great win. Just shutting haters up with a victory. Leaving it to where they can’t really say anything at all. 50 Cent knows those haters. And he knows those wins. He just had a big one with his new album, Before I Self Destruct. Even those on the Internet with the loudest keyboards had to give it up to him and the LP with their comments and greater-than > < less-than symbols, when the album leaked online a month before its release date.

Ohhh, it’s all about the Internet. We all wake up and eventually plug in somehow. Our Berries, iPhones, laptops, whatever… Nowadays, it seems like there’s always a conversation to be had about how, if you go away from the Web for a few days, you feel lost, out of the loop. Who knows what you could miss in rap?!

Like, tweeted words of wisdom from one of our great entertainers. (Twitter’s become a weird self-help fortune cookie for those who like to hear [or see] themselves speak.) Or leaked music. We don’t even have to go outside anymore or spend money—and there’s new music every day. (Granted, it might not be good new music every day, but—must…download…new…music…every…day…) And then there’s videos of rappers doing or saying plain crazy or dumb shit that we just love (do I really need an example?). The low-budget music videos (there’s nothing too high-end for the Net), the bloggers (a few who have some crazy opinions about rappers, until those rappers confront them, then things change a bit), and the beef (a whole new level once hip-hop met Photoshop). YouTube alone can have you sitting there for hours. I recently spent an unnecessary amount of time watching freestyles of Gucci Mane and live performances of Lil Boosie on the video-sharing site. (Quite a few of the clips I’ve actually seen before, but who can watch too much Gucci and Boosie?)

After extensive iChatting and e-mailing, BBMing and text messaging, we at XXL decided it was time to do the first-ever Internet Issue. We gotta cover what’s going on here, people. Next year, the Net will probably be even more insane, but for right now, it’s pretty much at a level nine as is. Rappers can’t put albums out without them leaking first. Five minutes after an interview wraps on radio, it’s posted online. Almost every MC is socially networking. There’s at least a million hip-hop Web sites, and for the most part, they all have the same stuff, ripped from the same sites. Aggregate was a word very rarely used in my vocabulary a couple of years ago. Now it’s all I hear and say. (Side note: is primarily original content, with very little aggregating. Look for the link or the shout-out, or whatever they do, at some of your favorite sites when you see some good content—if they credit.)

So for the first-ever Internet Issue, who better to be on the cover than the king of the Web himself, 50?! It’s covers No. 11 and 12 for the Interscope MC (putting him in the lead), and, no, that’s not because XXL is best friends with the label. It’s because, well, who else should it be? With a regular Internet presence, a successful site ( that most of you are members of, and a hot, newly leaked album, Fif knows what’s up with the online game. He deals with it every day. And besides that, you know y’all love to read what he has to say.

With a bajillion hip-hop Web sites now online (more popped up since the last paragraph), we decided we wanted to help fans out. So we’ve provided a breakdown of XXL’s official Best 100 Hip-Hop Web Sites, a basic guide to rap online (shout-out to Ben Detrick and Jesse Serwer!). And Thomas Golianopolous reports on the phenomenon of being an online rap star.

Jumping away from the topic of the Net for a minute, in the issue, we catch up with Snoop Dogg, do lines with Drake, learn more about OJ Da Juiceman and celebrate the lives of ODB and Mac Dre, in honor of the five-year anniversary of their deaths. If you have interest in the new Gucci Mane album, The State vs. Radric Davis, which I know you do, check page 111 for the review.

This is a double issue, folks. The mag’s not back until January. So make sure to go to for your XXL fix in the meantime, to get all of your hip-hop news and needs (plug). We got you covered during the downtime. Were you worried?

Click, puff, pass,

Vanessa Satten