You can’t blog for a rap magazine like I do and not become obsessed with the disconnect between what people like and what the TIs would like them to like.
Case in point, the cover of the March issue of XXL the magazine, with Gucci Mane. I’m gonna tread lightly here, because I was hesitant to work this today to begin with (if only I had anything else better to do), and I’d hate for it to be all for naught. And the truth of the matter is that I could give a rat’s ass about Gucci Mane. I’m not dissing the guy’s music, because I’ve hardly heard any of the guy’s music. I’m just saying. The shit doesn’t interest me personally.
And apparently, I’m not the only one. Check the comments sections here and at any number of other blogs that slavishly post the covers of XXL and other rap magazines month after month, in a naked, pathetic bid for pageviews. They’re filled with people talking about how they can’t stand Gucci Mane, how they’re gonna skip next month’s issue, and how they’re glad they stopped buying magazines.
Granted, I’m sure the comments sections of a few blogs are hardly representative of the hip-hop community as a whole. People who read rap blogs like the Clipse (especially Combat Jack), and the Clipse were doing Wale numbers before it was all trendy. Gucci Mane’s album may have only sold 90,000 copies its first week out, but that’s still not too far off from what the new Fiddy album sold. These days, you don’t have to well to be doing better than pretty much anyone.
If Noz had a blog where he posted pictures of magazine covers without any commentary or added value otherwise (known in the white community as a Tumblr), I’m sure plenty of people would have approved. Except, you never can tell with Noz. Sometimes you think an artist would be right in his wheelhouse, but Noz can’t stand them. Like this guy Freddie Gibbs, who, according to descriptions on the Internets, is to UGK what Little Brother was to Tribe. I enjoy both Tribe and Little Brother (which seems to have gone the way of Tribe) as if they were milkshakes (nullus), but I’m judging primarily on the basis of the music. Noz’ appreciation of music is obviously a lot more complex.
It’d be interesting, if they actually told us how many copies of each issue XXL sells, the way a site like Gawker makes such a public spectacle of its pageviews. Will this next issue, with Gucci Mane, sell enough copies to warrant alienating legions of aging crybabies on the Internets? They’ve obviously got Gucci dressed up like Lil Wayne and the Birdman on the cover of that 10th anniversary issue, similar to how the most recent Jay-Z cover was an homage to a Biggie Source cover, thus suggesting that Jay-Z is now better than Biggie. (Admittedly, I’m still kinda hurt by this.)
Will this Gucci Mane cover sell as well as a Lil Wayne cover? I doubt it, though I wonder if anything on the cover would sell as well as a Lil Wayne cover. (Yes, even that picture of Shakur from the other day.) I mean, the guy must be a huge draw, if he’s on the cover seemingly every third month. They put him on the cover of their 10th anniversary issue. Didn’t they even put him on the cover of the anniversary of Biggie Smalls’ death? I seem to recall being upset by that at some point or another, but it may have just been a bad dream.
Alas, we’ll probably never know how well this Gucci Mane cover performs relative to covers with Lil Wayne and other artists. If it does do well, I suppose we’ll know when they pull the same shit a few months later. But if it does really poorly, why would they let the world know? Aside from announcing to potential advertisers that they aren’t capable of making a good decision, it would just open them up to complaints like the one I tried to make about the New York Times covering Gucci Mane as if he’s the next Lil Wayne, when it didn’t seem warranted.
If the editorial process here at XXL was more transparent, it’d be that much easier to hijack by people who know from good rap music. Like this Christmas song contest in the UK. Maybe you heard about it.
It’s a well known fact that people in foreign countries lack Americans’ taste in music (which must have something to do with our race problem). That’s why a group like Night Ranger can be so big in Japan (just like my dick), and Tina Turner could make a living in Europe after she left Ike Turner, who taught her how to put the requisite amount of stank on her vocals and even gave her his daddy’s name. Because of this, shitty pop music is especially popular in Europe. Shit like the kids who win American Idol. The show American Idol even started out in England, where it was obviously called something else. Each year, for what reason I’m not sure, there’s a contest to see who can have the number one song on Christmas. It’s usually won by one of the fruits from Simon Cowell’s stable, but this year there was a campaign on Facebook to elect “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine, and they actually won. “Killing in the Name” actually is the number one song in the UK right now.
The thing is, this wasn’t some bullshit online poll where those racist who took down SOHH could probably hack into it. People had to actually go out and cop “Killing in the Name.” From what I understand, some people may have even copped it on CD single. Where in the world they found a CD single, I’m not sure. I can’t even find the ones I own, to the point where I’m wondering if such a thing really existed. Maybe Sony had some printed up. As has been pointed out ad nauseum, both Rage and the fruit they beat record for Sony. So I’m sure the TIs could give a rat’s ass who won. Admittedly, it would have been cooler if the guys on Facebook had picked a song that’s just as gully (if there is such a song) by an artist on an independent label. I wonder if the result would have been the same, or if the TIs would have found a way to rig it in the fruit’s favor. I should note, however, that Rage plans to donate whatever proceeds they receive as a result of this contest to some commie pinko charity – hopefully an organization that buys sexual encounters for bloggers who hate the government.
A brother can dream, right?
Then there’s the fact that this stunt probably won’t have much of an effect in the grand scheme of things. It’s one thing if a buncha crazy kids go out and buy a Rage Against the Machine song to fuck with a contest, but they’re not gonna continue to pay for good music, because smart people have no (good) reason to pay for music, and if Rage played as much a role in these kids’ formative years as they did in mine, chances are they don’t have the money anyway. If you haven’t noticed, I have a certain rebellious streak that doesn’t seem to have served me well. Shitty pop groups might not be as popular as a group like Rage, but people who like shitty pop group like Rage, but people who like shitty pop groups spend more money for music. And therein lies the rub. Because whoever sells more record won’t just dominate the charts, they’ll dominate the entire promotional apparatus, including magazine covers, radio, TV and what have you. It might stand to reason that, if there’s just as many people who like good music as there are people who like Gucci Mane, it should be on magazine covers, too, since people who like good music want to read about the artists they like as well, but that’s just not how magazines work. Serving their readership is only one of their priorities, and obviously not the most important.