• 44
    Return of the Real
    A lot can happen in a decade—just ask Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek. Ten years after cleansing ears with their insightful debut, Train of Thought, the duo, collectively known as Reflection Eternal, recount their long road to its follow-up, Revolutions Per Minute.
  • 70 Lost Ones Thanks to cover girl Nicki Minaj, a woman’s voice is finally relevant again in hip-hop. Still, it’s impossible to dismiss the preceding 10-year stretch of feminine invisibility. One has to ask, what’s held the ladies back for so long?
  • 76 Take It Personal After seven years’ worth of feel-good jams, the remaining members of Little Brother are putting the group to rest, in favor of solo enterprises. While the North Carolina trio’s music has been celebrated, their behind-the-scenes story has been far less positive. XXL finds out why.
  • 80
    It’s Been a Long Time
    Once considered the hotbed of rookie talent, New York has become no country for young men. XXL investigates the Big Apple’s post-2003 breeding issues.


  • 50 Eyes on Me He’s a Canadian anti-thug who both sings and raps and has ties to a teenage soap opera. Yet, somehow, Young Money’s golden child, Drake, has emerged as the most revered new MC in years. Witness the changing face of hip-hop firsthand.
  • 60 A Star Is Born Like Drake, first-timer Nicki Minaj has become a rap phenomenon with Lil Wayne’s support. Unlike Drizzy, however, she’s had to reinvigorate an entire gender. XXL gets up close and personal with the music industry’s current hot girl.


  • 35
    Show & Prove
    Roscoe Dash, Bone, Laws, Party Boyz
  • 90 Eye Candy Keyshia Dior takes a dip.
  • 95 The Cool Take a trip with the freshest spring looks. Plus, hip-hop heads to Hawaii for inspiration.
  • 107 X-Rated E-40 doubles his money, Fat Joe lyrically visits the dark side, and Bun B lobbies for G.O.A.T. status.


  • 12
    VS sets ’em straight.
  • 16 Letters Gucci Mane divides and conquers.
  • 23
    Yung Berg can’t win for losing.
  • 122
    Doin’ Lines
    DJ Khaled