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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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