In Celebration of Kanye West [Letter from the Editor]

Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of monster:

1 a: an animal or plant of abnormal form or structure

b: one who deviates from normal or acceptable behavior or character

2: a threatening force

3 a: an animal of strange or terrifying shape

b: one unusually large for its kind

4: something monstrous; especially : a person of unnatural or extreme ugliness, deformity, wickedness, or cruelty

5: one that is highly successful

I have never experienced anything like what we just went through with this new issue. I don’t think anyone at Harris Publications has, let alone anyone at XXL. Having Kanye West host 40 pages of a magazine is like being forced to listen to Afroman’s first album. At first the idea was brilliant. Halfway through, we were wondering if we’d made the right decision. At 75 percent done we began to tear our hair out. By 90 percent we were leaning toward the “Hate Kanye West” side of our cover. By 100 percent we’d spun that cover right around to “Love.” Not because we all totally understood or related to Kanye’s editorial and creative thoughts or processes, but because ’Ye respected XXL enough to come to us with his vision and voice.

Is Kanye a monster? Yes. (See evidence above: 1b, 2, 5.) But quite a lot of us are, in our own way, so it’s all good. You need all types of monsters to get things done. To make the world go ’round. But you have to give the guy credit for being interested and spending time on this project. In my history at XXL, we’ve never had a rapper so dedicated to being involved in an issue of the magazine. Or a rapper that took the opportunity and really made the most of it.

We spent hours with Kanye and crew at his apartment, in our offices, at photo studios. I mean hours. (Fun KW fact No. 1: He loves Jamba Juice’s Strawberries Wild.) And what’s in ’Ye’s 40 pages is a glimpse into his Rosewood aesthetic, which you’ll hear more about and see more of as he gets ready for the release of his new album this November. (Fun KW fact No. 2: He really drinks out of goblets, and attends meetings with them. And he encourages you to drink from the goblets what his crew pours.)

Most important in ’Ye’s XXL package is his cover story. Not only is this the first time since the Taylor Swift/MTV VMAs debacle that he’s really spoken publicly on some of the issues he touches on but he also wrote it himself, and it’s really something powerful. (Sorry if that sounds corny, but read it and then get back to me: @VSattenXXL.) It’s more than I could ever have hoped for. (Thank you, Kanye, for real, for the opportunity and for just being you, even though you are a little difficult sometimes.)

If you get anything from this story (and there’s a lot to get), you should see that Kanye West is a pretty honest guy. And isn’t honesty a good quality to have? Or not anymore in hip-hop? You all tell me, ’cause I get so confused sometimes. (Fun KW fact No. 3: The roses you’ll see are from Kanye’s apartment, and he has dozens of them delivered every week as beautiful arrangements.)

Our cover is dope—no question about it. A big thank you and welcome goes out to our new creative director, Paul Scirecalabrisotto, who has his own sharp aesthetic you will all start seeing in XXL soon. Also, our photo editor, Rebecca Fain, killed it with patience and a great eye. But this ambitious, overwhelmingly exhausting and amazing package would not exist without XXL’s creative and supportive publisher, Dennis Page, and Yeezy’s Def Jam publicist, Gabe Tesoriero, who’s a beast, not a monster, and also an all-around good dude. (Those two kept me sane.) I’m not going to tell you what’s in ’Ye’s pages, because it’s way more interesting to see and read for yourself. (Fun KW fact No. 4: Kanye is chauffeured around New York City in a white Maybach.)

But this issue isn’t all Kanye West related (and neither are the shout-outs). We’ve got a story on Pittsburgh’s new star, one of our 10 Freshmen for ’10, Wiz Khalifa; the second installment of our three-part Shyne series; and then we go in and rank the top 10 producers turned rappers in hip-hop. (Guess who No. 1 is.) And thanks to Laura Hatmaker for helping us out in a pinch.

And with that, I’m out. I’m done. It’s a wrap. I can’t take anymore. Time to put this book to bed. Or I’ma start rocking gold teeth and fangs.

Vanessa Satten

October 2010 issue hits newsstands nationally September 28th!!!

Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • Anonymous

    Def Gonna Be Chkn 4iT!!
    Chi-TowN.. iL State.. Assasin!!

  • $yk

    Sounds quite interesting.

    It would have been MORE interesting if dude would have guest blogged (there’s still time)…1000 + comments…

  • Vanessa Satten XXL EIC

    y’all are never happy
    u try and get that muthafucka to guest blog – maybe he’d want to do it for his site?

    • $yk

      ^ LoLz

      Chill ma (is that REALLY YOU?).

      But seriously, why not ask him? I know the multitudes would line up to throw darts at him but he does say some good motivational stuff at times…the most he could say is no.

      I would get a kick out of chopping it up in the c-section with dude, although you may need the moderation team to do some overtime!


  • Based

    Y’all need to get the Basedgod Lil B to guest blog. 1,000,000 comments!!!! WOOO WOOO SWAG SWAG SWAG!!!

  • Pingback: Covering Letter Sample Alert | Free Resume Sample

  • Pingback: Why Get Inspiration From Cover Letter Samples? | Free Resume Sample

  • Jimmy101

    Kanye =

    terrible rapper
    mediocre producer

    • Anonymous

      you crazy as hell

  • Pingback: Internship Cover Letter Sample | Free Resume Sample

  • Pingback: Free Cover Letter Sample | Free Resume Sample


    I will admit i haven’t bought a xxl mag since prob the jayz reasonable doubt anniversy issue or something like that but i will bop this one.

    that comment on ye being a terrible rapper makes no sense. ye is prob the most improved rapper in the game.

  • cltrsck gack

    - XXL FAIL –

    wow big surprise to see xxl shoving kanye down our throats. first it was eminem with his cd now this. you know when you try so hard to hype something up it almost makes me want to hate it. there are so many other respected rappers out there and you pick eminem and kanye who are already blown way out of proportion to give the media to.

    “guess what guys he really drinks out of goblets”

    oh wow Kanye must be an eccentric genius and not an attention getter, I cant think of anything at all that would put him as an attention getter??

    I agree that he has improved and isn’t that bad of an artist, but he’s really far from hip hop and has Marilyn Manson like ways as far craving attention.

    I’d be much more fascinated if xxl went out and had some creativity and balls to try to push an interesting artist like Mysonne on his struggle from almost being ready to blow to jail, now back in the rap game trying to get a deal but can’t because NY Djs play south rappers. Not about Kanye drinking out of goblets, having beautiful arrangements of flowers, and writing songs for Taylor Swift, sorry.

  • dance³

    By 100 percent we’d spun that cover right around to “Love.” Not because we all totally understood or related to Kanye’s editorial and creative thoughts or processes, but because we want money and saying it sucks and that Kanye is a fart in the elevator won’t promote sales.

  • leasure suit

    yeah back in the day guys like him would have been aired out

  • emerald flowsion

    i have to agree, you put all your kiss-ass motivation into this?

  • ryzin starr

    Jimmy101 says:

    Kanye =

    terrible rapper
    mediocre producer

    It really is true, listen to his music solely if your life depended on being a truthful review columnist, he is a very poor rapper and very average producer.

  • killa

    never copped a copy but since he wrote 40 pages i’ll be copping this,

  • Countdown 123

    this dude uses cams nickname and talks about picking up a kanye transwestite magazine?

  • Shawn Williams

    YOU GOT TO RESPECT KANYE WEST! Kanye West is one of my all-time rappers of all-time, no lie. I hope his new album will be out this fall, since you saw the VMA performance with Clipse’s Pusha. The Chi-Town Monster got some many hits like “Power”, “Swagger Like Us”, “Monster”, “Run This Town”, and “Forever.” LONG LIVE KING YE!

  • Enthusie Ish

    No you don’t need to respect Kanye, hes one of your “all time favs” dude is still new to the game. People mistake Pop for Rock and Pop for Rap these days and its a shame. Maybe you will be able to drink a goblet or two with him sometime.

  • billp

    hes hanging with bieber who lip syncs most of his performances its a huge joke, lady gaga was put together by her boyfriend and didn’t even know who Queen was when he told her to be Gaga, oh nevermind Kanye drinking from goblets, Gaga has a meat dress she also must be a genius, and Kesha wait Ke$ha in trash bags must be the smartest and most unique of all, these people are far from meglomaniacs they deserve to be in the ranks of einstein. im sorry to go off on Kanye and xxl but I need to get this out of my system. someone put it nicely, KANYE WOULD HAVE BEEN AIRED OUT back in the day, a degrassi star would not be against an icp 3rd grade white boy for sales, that new Eminem album was horrible. and xxl is suppose to be a Hip Hop magazine, instead it pushes pop. Put someone like Immortal Technique on the cover and push his message, that man has something to say and is LIGHTYEARS ahead of Kanye in material, listen to both their work. kanye has subpar music and a bitch personality, the dude is a bitch, its like he keeps begging for people to see him in the light of bitch and people just cant seem to see it yet. i just wish xxl was a hip hop magazine sometimes and staffers could honestly put out who they really like as well as djs.

  • Tisee

    That was fragmented and poorly written, but at the same time agreeable to read. I understand the point you were trying to make and I agree wholeheartedly.