Remember when magazine covers meant something?

I was in a grocery store the other day, debating whether to buy a pack of light bulbs or live in semi-darkness for a while to save money + the environment, when I figured I’d take a look at the magazine rack, even though I never buy magazines.

Every now and again, I’ll see an article in The Atlantic that looks like it might be interesting enough to read for free when I get home; and I notice the covers of women’s magazines are often more exciting to me than actual pr0n – probably because they have such high standards for their cover girls. A solid three-fourths of all women under a certain age, if they’re naked, are at least good for a semi-, as evidenced by my history tab in Firefox, but then you see a picture of someone who’s genuinely special, like Candice Swanepoel, and you wonder why you even bother with that shit.

Can you tell it’s a Friday afternoon?

I’d already been aware that J. Cole – in a development that’s arguably even more indefensible than OJ da Juice Man appearing on the cover of XXL twice, in the same year, even – is currently on the cover of both The Source and XXL. (Trust me, you don’t want to know what’s on the cover of the new issue of Vibe.) A few weeks ago, when I heard on Twitter that J. Cole got the cover of The Source, by himself, I quipped that Jay-Z bought it for him. Which, as far as I know isn’t actually (technically) true – though I suppose it could be. You’ll recall that the first issue of The Source under this current regime had a set of covers featuring hip-hop legends. One of them was Queen Latifah, who just so happens to have a financial stake in the magazine.

Not that I have anything against J. Cole. I’ve heard a couple of his songs on Sirius, and I genuinely kinda liked them. And Noz can’t stand the guy, which lets you know he might actually be worth a shit. I’m more concerned with who would buy a magazine with J. Cole on the cover. I know who he is, but my job, such as it is, involves sitting around in my underwear listening to rap music. What about people whose names aren’t on some sort of government list?

The only thing I can think is that rap magazines must be at the point where they can put pretty much anything on the cover, and it’s not gonna sell any worse than it would have otherwise. A few years ago, you could put Lil Wayne on the cover every three months and legions of mouth breathers would run out and cop it, probably because they were too high to realize they already had more or less the exact same magazine at home,  but Lil Wayne somehow managed to smoke up his ability to even make those damn shit/toilet metaphors – and now he’s in jail. Gucci Mane was supposed to be his replacement, but he was never really as popular as Noz would have you believe, and now he’s in jail too.

Now might actually be the best time to be an up and coming rapper, as long as you’re cool with not making very much money. But you can have as much media coverage as you want. If you’re aligned with the right TIs, you can probably get on the cover of one of these Freshman 10 issues of XXL, or you could probably even get on the cover of The Source by yourself – just like Biggie Smalls! Or if all else, you could probably just shame and browbeat your way into some coverage. Drake and Nicki Minaj, whom no one other than Remy Ma had heard of in the fall of 2008, got all butthurt over not being selected for last year’s Freshman 10 cover, and now they’ve got the cover of XXL to themselves.

Bum-ass rappers like Jae Millz and Vado must realize it’s open season on these magazine covers. The old excuse, that you had to be someone people actually heard of, is obviously no longer valid. The other day, Jae Millz went on one of these radio shows that, counterintuitively, seem to only exist on YouTube, and complained that Vado, whom you’d have to still read Nah Right to be familiar with, wasn’t a member of this year’s Freshman 10 – and you have to wonder if Millz really went down the list of this year’s Freshman and decided that Vado was just as good as any of them, or if he thought this might be a good way to get Vado on the cover. Probably the latter, right? Didn’t he say he had even heard of some of them? Cam’ron, who was going to bring Jae Millz out at that Freshman 10 concert, before Millz was arrested, probably put him up to it. Cam’ron’s smart like that. He’s one of the few black people who watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. Him and Bun B.

Cam’ron and Vado were added to that Freshman 10 concert at the last minute, presumably because not enough people were interested in seeing Donnis, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Vado turns up on the cover of XXL somewhere down the line, perhaps along with Cam’ron, if he can’t come up with a song anyone likes. Jae Millz, even though he’s apparently cool with Cam’ron and Vado, won’t be able to join them, since technically he’s still Lil Wayne’s weed carrier. He might have to wait until Lil Wayne gets out, to appear in some sort of Young Money group cover. That is, unless he can somehow convince Lil Wayne to enter into an NBA-style trade agreement with Cam’ron. Millz could go carry for Cam’ron, in exchange for one of the non-Vado guys from the U.N. Maybe two, since I doubt any of you can name any of them without checking the world’s most accurate encyclopedia.

I’m sure Jae Millz has his fingers crossed. Even though he claimed to be pissed that Vado didn’t make the cover, you can tell he’s really just pissed that he’s way too old to be a member of the Freshman 10. Otherwise, why even run the risk of having them all pissed at you? Or maybe he just figured it wasn’t much of a risk. Yesterday, I saw where they asked J. Cole to comment on what Jae Millz said, and he was mad reasonable and diplomatic about it. Um, what part of hip-hop is that? I checked Wikipedia, and it says he went to school on an academic scholarship and graduated magna cum laude. They’d better hurry up and have him do something ignorant, before people find out. A random nobody on the cover of a rap magazine is one thing. Someone kids should actually look up to is just pain unheard of.

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  • TapThat

    Shit Bol! Best post I’ve read all week, and they’ve all been fire this week! But true, J.Cole is breaking barriers, whether by design or by talent. Shout out to David Banner for leading the way for college graduates to actually count for something in the rap game.

  • DV8

    really though Vado should have made the Freshman’ 10. Nipsey Hustle already eitherd Jae Millz by twitter.

    I remember the days you actually had to earn a magazine cover. Now its straight payola just like the radio.

  • Jae Millz

    is smart for saying what he said. This is his best marketing/exposure EVER. He has everybody talking about him and he is right, Vado is nice on the mic. This game is a hustle and all Millz is doing is hustling and it looks like he might of finally caught the big break he was looking for other than being signed to Lil Wyane.

  • epinz

    jae mills is a smart dumb ngga to me. he gettin attention for what he said, but vado is the one whos really benifitin from it. now everyone talkin bout vado and how nice HE is as apposed to how nice jae mills is. so he lookin bad while makin vado look good. i guess he just takin 1 for the team.

  • $yk

    I still fux with XXL, but the Vado omission shows that they are not connected to what’s going on in their own backyard (NYC, Manhattan/Harlem is the same island, a train ride away…) and instead is following the trends. Before you guys get region emotions, this would be like them omitting Waka if they were stationed in ATL.

    Jae & Vado used to rap together, and if you cats would look a lil’ deeper you would see the Dipset/Cash Money connection from years ago, when Wayne did that video in NYC.

    But I ain’t gonna lie, J.Cole should have BEEN had a single out.

    Oh yeah, I like the slickness of Jay posing w/Dre in the studio, throwing that ‘you gonna side with my homie, I’ma side with yours’ dart at you know who.

    • Detroit P

      You lost me when you compared Waka to Vado…Vado is nowhere near as popular as Waka…thats a huge stretch…Excluding Vado would be like Excluding Donnis from the cover if they were in ATL…but even Donnis is signed to a major label and is doin a buncha shows…Vados only claim to fam right now is being Cam’s new Juelz, in Cams new Diplomat-type group, none of which most people know about outside of New York…people barely know who J Cole is.

      • $yk

        “You lost me when you compared Waka to Vado”

        “I still fux with XXL, but the Vado omission shows that they are not connected to what’s going on in their own backyard (NYC, Manhattan/Harlem is the same island, a train ride away…) and instead is following the trends. Before you guys get region emotions, this would be like them omitting Waka if they were stationed in ATL.”

        ^ where’s the comparison. I see an example. I could have easily used Nipsey & LA. That’s you comparing homie.

        “Vados only claim to fam right now is being Cam’s new Juelz, in Cams new Diplomat-type group, none of which most people know about outside of New York…”

        ^ “Before you guys get region emotions”

        I heard ‘A-Mafia’-Cam/Vado everyplace I went to last night…’I'm Ill’ by Red Cafe too. Don’t forget I’m in the Pac NW right now.

        And word is bond no Waka, Gucci though.

        • Detroit P

          this would be like them omitting Waka if they were stationed in ATL.
          Uhh…thats a comparison homie….youre comparing them being stationed in New York and omitting Vado to them being stationed in Atlanta and omitting Waka…and if u used nipsey and La it would still be a comparison and a bad one.

          “I heard ‘A-Mafia’-Cam/Vado everyplace I went to last night”
          This is proof that the average person knows who Vado is? cmon man…

          Im not saying NOBODY knows who these people are…but most dont..

        • $yk

          Son you are bugging out.

          I’m talking about XXL, what the situation is with them in this issue, their ear isn’t in the hometown streets like it used to be. Did you understand that? Good, because that’s what I wanted to state, regardless of examples, I got my point across.

          All of that other stuff about how people hardly know dude, and who should be compared/used as examples is coming from you.

        • Detroit P

          I’m not sure u even know what you’re talking bout homes…can u comprehend that im saying Vado doesnt have a buzz like that and isnt known like that for him to be put on a Freshman cover..half of the people on that cover are barely known and Vado is lesser known than them…just like Drake didnt have no buzz like that until after the freshman issue came out last year..XXL never just put somebody on the cover just cus they were nice…does dude even have a mixtape out? i wouldnt kno..and neither do alot of people…VADO DOESNT HAVE A BUZZ LIKE THAT AT ALL, SO HIM NOT BEING ON THE COVER IS NOT A TESTAMENT TO XXL NOT HAVING THEIR EAR TO THE STREET…WHETHER THEY DO OR DONT(Don’t I’m sure)..clear now?

        • AZ40

          thank you…I like vado but his buzz ain’t that big and plus he just recently released his own solo mixtape like a week ago, most of those cats on the cover have multiple mixtapes released and Fashawn even has a hot album out

        • westcoastaggie

          J. Cole has a BIG buzz in the South. People know who J. Cole is are very impressed.

        • westcoastaggie

          J. Cole has a BIG buzz in the South. People know who J. Cole is and they are very impressed.

        • westcoastaggie

          People know who J. Cole and they are very impressed.*

        • DETROIT

          Wacka is more commercially successful than Vado, but Vado has like 100 songs out right now, and dude is HOT! i fux wit wacka, but Vado is laying the ground work for a long, successful career. Wacka has good songs, Vado has good CDs. Mad niggas bump A MAF

        • DETROIT

          See, syk and i are old enough to know how this rap game works. if you look at the history, niggas like wacka (whom i like a lot) are a dime a dozen. trendy cats come and go, cats with flow usually win big in the long run, ala Nas, Prodigy, Jay Z, WU, etc….

          even these emo cats, drake will be gone in 3 years max, cuz he’s not a very good rapper. he’s loosing steam as we speak. j cole will never be hot, i mean all of this convo is really a moot point. also, for the record, jae mills prolly makes more as a weed carrier than most of these guys will ever make. he was just on tour with the hottest collective in the game for like the last 2 years. tour money > cd money!

          lastly, i got cut off on my last post….i was gonna say, a maf and vado are bubbling. them niggas are a part of a new movement. like him or hate him, we’ve seen that cam knows how do come up in this game. wacka is more like mystical.

        • DETROIT

          AND YA’LL AIN’T EVEN TALKIN BOUT THE MUSIC! go pick up A MAF “lord of the streets” or boss of all bosses 1 or 2, and tell me that ANY of them niggas on that xxl cover have better material than that!

        • $yk

          I’m pretty sure XXL gets invited to plenty and many shows in NYC, where they would get a chance to look at up and coming unsigned rappers. They’re following the same formula as the labels are, just notice who has an already ‘generated buzz’ and run with them.

          XV was overlooked (Pac Div too), and XV has some fresh perspective music coming from Kansas, a place where most people don’t even think there’s diversity there. That’s a whole region being snubbed. And XV’s mgr (DJ Enuff) is in NY, blocks away from XXL. Regardless if you ‘never heard of’ XV, that’s what the purpose of this list is right? To get people to know who they are. Dude Big K.R.I.T from the M I crooked letter squared is doing the damn thing too.

          This is why I chose not to go back and forth with the homie Detroit P. My statement ain’t about the artists, it’s about the institutions. XXL is in a position to make the trends, not follow them.

        • $yk

          “This isn’t about what’s hip-hop and what’s not. This is about why people like to close rap in a small box when it’s much bigger than that. Hip-hop is much bigger than Wacka flocka and Gucci or even Jay, EM, and 50. This shit has grown international with other nations producing their own artists and styles. Yet apparently XXL and other rap media outlets want to make hip-hop to exist only in Atlanta (WHAT’S HOT RIGHT NOW). Everybody has their own taste in music but nobody’s taste should be ignored. It used to be that rappers that sold more would get the most attention but these days nobody is selling well. Gucci sold Asher Roth numbers but he got an XXL cover. OJ managed to get on two covers and dude is pretty much unknown considering he doesn’t have a hit single, album, or a worthy mixtape. You mean to tell me that all of these guys are deserving of an XXL feature but an internationally known, grammy award winning group like the Roots (OR BLACK EYE PEAS, THE SAME GROUP THEY TALK ABOUT EVERY SINGLE WEDNESDAY IN THE SALES REPORTS) can’t even make a cover shot? If you don’t expect Gucci fans to enjoy the Roots then those fans shouldn’t expect Roots fans to enjoy Gucci’s music either.”

          ^ nic delorejo be dropping bombs.

          7 out of 10 ‘buzzes’ are label, payola manufactured. Cam has an international following, there’s no way only NYC has heard of Vado.

          Just trying to show y’all what you’re up against. Cats ain’t playing fair.

  • Bring back The Source

    The Source was the shit from 93-2005.

    XXL Magazine only caters for the South & “characters” Like Nicki Minaj!!!

  • The Unknown

    When you start to talk about other mens business it makes you look like a bitch! Quit having those womanly emotion, especially on behalf of another nigga……

  • Worley

    Wasn’t Jae Millz battling some clowns on “Making the Band” years ago? That n!gga needs to fall back and continue ghostwriting. There’s more money in it and a lot less work (if you have the right lawyers). If I have to choose between fame and fortune, I will take the fortune everytime. Leave the fame to the soon to be broke “artists.”

  • nicholasdelorejo

    “They’d better hurry up and have him do something ignorant, before people find out. A random nobody on the cover of a rap magazine is one thing. Someone kids should actually look up to is just pain unheard of.”

    Bol, I gotta disagree with you there. Notice how labels are promoting and planing to release albums from B.O.B., Drake, Kid Cudi, and Asher Roth. It’s because the TIs have figuered that its better to promote the safest, non-threatening rappers now. Look at Kanye and Wayne. I’ve always said that if Kanye would’ve learned to control his outburst, dude would be considered by many the greatest rapper alive. Would this be true. Hell no. But he would have that Gucci-mane love Vanessa claims that we have if only we weren’t in such denial over it. But Kanye’s antics have reduced the amount of records he could have sold if his PR was as high as when he first debuted. Wayne was one of the highest selling rappers in recent years and now he’s in jail for on a weapon possession charge. The worst crime we can expect a dude like Drake to commit is a traffic violation or missing jury duty.

    So J. Cole having a college degree and a scholar is a promotional bonus for the labels aside from being a dope lyricist. It’s good PR for those folks who like Drake and Cudi because they “don’t rap about drugs, bitches, violenec, and money,” even though they really do just not in a hood perspective. Ignorant acting rappers are seen as hood and that shit isn’t selling like before. Friendly, safe, and happy negro rappers get more press now. Drake even stated that he wanted to work with Taylor Swift for Thank Me Later”. If that’s not trying to appear as a safe black man by trying to collaborate with America’s white princess then I don’t know what is.

    • Pierzy

      Co/Sign. Good shit.

  • newyawka631

    Word up son.Dropping knowledge….Right now I’m taking it back to the Boogie Down Production shit…New hip-hop is st8 trash.I’ve been listening to da old school hip-hop channel on cable…….

  • NotoriousAGC

    jae known for battlin a young battle rapper named MURDA MOOK and making C grade songs..and lame mixtapes..

  • Deuce53

    shit regardless of a cover, or wat type of rapper is on and poppin, yall give me new shit to look for at least…ive herd of these cats never had the time to really look em up, but damn yalll make me want to, so much appreciated…im just doing my best to dig the music, shits stale right now, and it aint just cuz thug rappers is a dyin breed (even tho they really aren’t, nipsey, game, lil wayne (riiiiiite haha), its just cuz everything is recycled now, weve done heard everything y’all have said let somebody fresh n new get the limelight, nobody knows of everybody cuz not everybody got the guap or connect to get out of the local stage of their rap career, aka cats aint having to prove themselves!!! anyways, $yk where u at out here in Pac NW??? im up here in rainy days south seattle

    • nicholasdelorejo

      I see what your saying but the thing is none of these dudes are really bringing anything new to the table. Asher Roth is really an Eminem who managed to go to college and become inspired by Kanye’s “College Dropout”. B.O.B. is a weaker version of Andre 3000. Pill is a really trapper rapper who doesn’t chant or adlib too much on his music. And Drake is combination of The Dream, Kanye, and Lil Wayne. These guys are talented, but their really recycling a lot of aspects of the rappers that are already popular.

      Instead of trying to promote unknown, recycled rappers, why not promote the rappers that are truly diverse and are known like The Roots, Mos Def, Talib, or whatever. XXL damn near mentions Black Eyed Peas whenever the weekly soundscan reports yet they never had them or in the any past issues. Not saying that their music should be like by everyone but if XXL care about reporting their album sales, then they must consider them hip-hop. And since Gucci got a cover for selling Cudi and Roth numbers than BEP should have been given the same number of covers as Wayne had.

      If what Bol says is true about magazine sales not suffering any worse with anyone on the cover, then why can’t they feature artists who are critically acclaimed that that were usually ignored because they didn’t sell as much as mainstream artists. Put Big Boi since he’s releasing an album on the cover or Q-tip for “Renaissance”. Haven’t they done more than Pill, OJ or Drake? A lot of the freshman can’t even generate interest to release an album or sell a single on itunes so why put them on the cover? If not rappers then do features involving all aspects of hip-hop: Dancing (like “America’s Best Dance Crew”), today’s producers (unless Scratch is still in bussiness) or whatever (I don’t think anyone does grafitti anymore).

      You wanna know why the quality of new rappers are poor these days? It’s because dudes are only competing with the weak artists that are being promoted now. If high caliber rappers were promoted more, more of the freshman would want to step their game up. Some dudes might realize that being a rapper isn’t easy and not pursue it or at least find different career in rap. This could help filter excessive amount of rappers out now. And most inportant of all people wouldn’t be too bored with rap or be a little more open to diversity in style and music hip-hop.

      XXL mag and other rap publications should be working on promoting the rappers who already have a fanbase and are not only unique but have earned some recognition other than releasing some mixtapes. Plenty of dudes now do shows and release mixtapes. That doesn’t mean that they’ll blow once they recieve some attention. So why not promote the rappers that have stable careers that can go nowhere but up?

  • Pierzy

    “Gucci Mane was supposed to be his replacement, but he was never really as popular as Noz would have you believe, and now he’s in jail too.”

    Be careful, Bol. That’s the EIC’s boo and criticizing him just means that you’re a sad, online hater. Or so I’ve been told.

  • John Dough

    “Oh No No No”. That is all.

  • mav

    “camrons smart like that hes one of the few black people who watch curb your enthusiasm” hilarious post


    Regardless of what Jae Millz said i feel he was out of line saying those comments. Thats just like hatin on these young dudes cuz they on a magazine cover? Anyways the homie PILL adressed the situation he clowned the shit out of millz, look it up.

  • Mark Ward

    I feel everyone misses out on guys like Jae Millz. Where’s the love for his grind? For over a decade, despite having no discernible talent for rapping he’s managed to support himself w/o having a job, talent, or a big support in NYC where he’s from. This guy fucked up a viscous debut song featuring T.I. and Cam’ron, remaking one of the most catchy reggae songs ever, and he doesn’t have to go to work everyday! That’s skill (speaking of Skillz I personally saw him in 2001 working at VCU’s campus parking garage,)and I respect it. If it’s cool to be a gigolo, why is it not cool to do the same to the music biz. Instead of criticizing let’s all raise a cup to those who didn’t buy their drink, yet are drunker than us. That my friends is a valuable talent.

  • Beave

    Shiiiiit… all I know is after that XXL concert, all people are talking about is VADO. Dude shut it down and Cam is really back on his game. Beats were great, hooks were great, lyrics were great. What else do you want?

  • Teddy

    all this vado crap never even heard of the guy till jmillz got salty honestly what has he done? that billion other mixtape rappers havnt one could argue that yelawolf should have been on that cover no? he sure the hell deserves it more then vado and his not on now i do agree that some of those ppl on that cover…who the fuck are yal? yal know them? fuck it me either

  • DazzOne

    Am I the only one feeling Fredie Gibs shit? That’s the only thing on that mixtape I bang or artist I get on the net to look for.