When Fabolous first stepped into the booth to freestyle on DJ Clue's Hot 97 radio show as a teenager in 1998, XXL was just gaining its bearings in the world of hip-hop journalism a year prior. Needless to say, we've both come a long, long way.

Since that fateful freestyle session, Fab has become one of rap's most reliably electric lyricists, helping to popularize mid-2000s punchline rap while infusing radio-ready hits with quotable bits of wordplay. With a few platinum plaques, plenty of Billboard chart mainstays and a strong catalog of mixtapes and show-stealing guest verses, F-A-B-O-L-O-U-S has become a hip-hop legend.

In his career, Fab, who received the Key to Brooklyn earlier this year, has appeared on two XXL covers. One was with The-Dream on the cover of our August 2009 issue and the other was a few months later in November, for Def Jam's 25th anniversary cover. The 39-year-old New York MC has never had a solo XXL cover up to this point, so we figured XXL's 20th anniversary edition marked as good a time as any.

Like Loso, XXL's evolved over the years, but he believes its essence remains the same. "XXL’s role has changed," Fab says in the interview for his Fall 2017 cover story, written by XXL Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten. "I think it was always a magazine, like, a source of information for the culture. [It’s] a platform for artists to speak their mind, besides just the music. I still think XXL is that platform, it’s just, everything around in hip-hop has changed a little bit, too.

"So, the same thing we talked about, our artists having to be able to evolve and adapt, is the same thing a publication or a magazine, any form of information has to do, too. In 20 years, a lot of things change, especially in music. From CDs to tapes to vinyl to digital now, you know, a lot changes. The same thing has happened with XXL but I believe your role is pretty much the same. I think your role, as far as tapping into the hip-hop culture and spreading it to the masses is still the same."

Fabolous is just one of the artists selected to appear on XXL's 20 special edition covers. Like Fab, these rappers have been documented by XXL through the extent of their careers and have always shown love to the brand that helped raise their profiles along the away. Fabolous' fellow cover stars are 50 Cent, the cover king with 15 total XXL covers and a career we’ve been documenting from the start; Diddy, the man who not only reinvented the remix but paved the way for rap moguls; Nicki Minaj, a queen in hip-hop building her own pinkprint in the game; Wiz Khalifa, the cool, calm and collected superstar; Cam’ron, Harlem’s swag connoisseur; Lil Uzi Vert; the face of hip-hop’s new generation; Migos, three rappers who helped redefine the culture; Snoop Dogg, the Doggfather of the game; Pusha T, a success story as a group member, solo artist and record executive; Future, a trendsetting trap god; T.I., rap’s gangsta and gentleman; Rae Sremmurd, the real crowd-pleasers; Birdman, a No. 1 stunna with a revered empire; Run The Jewels, partners in rhyme and reason; Yo Gotti, a testament to tenacity; Gucci Mane, the true comeback kid; Tech N9ne; an independent icon; E-40; hip-hop’s in-the-know uncle; and The Lox, a trinity representing for the streets.

Check out Fabolous' full Fall 2017 cover story here, watch his interview video below and keep it locked to our exclusive 20th anniversary hub for more content coming in honor of XXL's 20th anniversary.

Travis Shinn for XXL

See All XXL Magazine 20th Anniversary Covers