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Shyne Interviews XXL’s EIC, Pt. 1

Originally published in the Sept 2010 issue of XXL, which is on stands now.

I’ve been waiting for this cover for almost as long as Shyne has. That might be going overboard, but the return of Shyne Po is a story XXL needed to tell. The mag has a history with Shyne. I do, too. But that’s not why I wanted Shyne on the cover. It’s because of his story. Y’all know it by now, and if not, you can CLICK HERE to read the cover story. In a time when, to me, rap lacks a certain amount of substance and passion, an artist as focused as Po could really do some damage. And he’s got the music. I heard it in Belize.

I’ve followed Po’s career pretty much since it started in 1998, as a fan and documenting it with XXL. I’ve visited him at Rikers Island and Clinton and Woodbourne Correctional Facilities so I was a bit emotional when I touched down in Belize and realized I was gonna see Shyne free.

In honor of the XXL’s 13th anniversary, Po rocked his reporter’s fitted and interviewed me. Check out the convo below, and let us know what you thought. —Vanessa Satten, Editor-in-Chief

SHYNE: How does it feel to celebrate XXL’s 13th anniversary?

VANESSA: It feels great to celebrate XXL’s 13th, because it’s been a long time. It’s been a rough couple of years. You would hear every day that this mag folded or that one, so just to be able to make it with all the concessions we had to make, is an important thing for all of us.

SHYNE: I feel that same way. Ten years ago, some dudes that was sellin’, like, 10 million records is nowhere to be found today. So I definitely thank God that that wasn’t my peril, despite the fuckin’ impossible situation I find myself in. Now, as far as your [personal] 12-year anniversary [at XXL], what does that mean to you individually?

VANESSA: I never really think about it, because I get big into jinxing things. I sometimes think if I slow down for a moment to celebrate, then I’m going to jinx any success or happy moment.

SHYNE: What’s the difference, in your opinion, of hip-hop 12 years ago and today?

VANESSA: I have this conversation about what’s going on in hip-hop every day with all sorts of people. So obviously all sorts of people are feeling as if there’s something up with hip-hop right now. I just really can’t put my finger on it. There are great parts of hip-hop. But it’s definitely going through a transition right now, and I’m not really sure where it’s gonna come out on the end.

SHYNE: Keep it 100. Twelve years ago, how did you feel about hip-hop in general?

VANESSA: Then, I was a jaded teen who thought most rappers were way cooler than they actually are…

SHYNE: Hold on! Maybe these rappers were really [cool], and maybe now they’re not?

VANESSA: That could be the case. But I think, when hip-hop got more popular, and it got wealthier, it got consumed with money, and it changed. Also, I like competition, and I don’t think there’s as much as there was then. Not everybody desires competition on the same level.

SHYNE: Twelve years ago it was deliberate. You had so many fuckin’ giants. That was one of the defining eras of hip-hop. If you comin’ out, it’s gonna be competitive, because everybody was so fuckin’ great. Today, you don’t get the same thing?

VANESSA: I think it’s harder for people to judge what a star really is these days…

SHYNE: You dancin’ right now, Nessa!

VANESSA: People aren’t fans like they used to be.

SHYNE: There ain’t nothin’ to be a fan of. I wanna be excited. I want a muthafucka to come out and make me want to go back in the studio and be like, Yo, I gotta step my shit up!

VANESSA: The Web is giving folks the mentality of here today, gone tomorrow. Nothing is sticking.

SHYNE: I think it’s always been like that.

VANESSA: I don’t think so. We anticipated things before…

SHYNE: That’s because you had somethin’ to anticipate. When you heard, “M-E-T-H-O-D, Man!” When the Wu came, that was somethin’ to anticipate. It ain’t have nothin’ to do with…

VANESSA: But that was a whole level of fresh that doesn’t exist anymore.

SHYNE: Don’t blame it on the people!

Stay tuned tomorrow for Pt. 2 of Shyne’s interview of XXL’s EIC.

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