Yes, we have Dr. Dre on the cover this issue, and Detox is coming. No, I definitely did not think we would get Dre this month, because he rarely does press, and it’s just a whole other ball game when you’re dealing with a star of such legendary status.

With most true ultrasuperstars, it’s close to impossible to get anything done, ’cause there are usually too many chefs in the kitchen, between the publicists, the managers and the personal assistants, making it hard to pull anything off or make any decisions. The thing about having Dr. Dre on the cover is, even though we thought it was a long shot, it was actually perfect timing. The Doc has finally decided, after 11-plus years of waiting, that his opus Detox is really gonna drop in the first quarter of 2011. For real. Hip-hop needs Detox right now. It’s coming from a legend, following up a classic. This is gonna be something special. Dre’s 2001 came out in 1999. I started at XXL in 1998. So, basically, almost my whole time here I’ve been waiting for Detox to come out. Okay, so technically it was announced in 2002 for the first time, but you’re kinda anticipating an artist’s next album even when they have a new release out, so it’s been basically 11 years, and The Good Doctor decided to announce his return exclusively with us. How great! A big thank you to Dre’s publicist Lori Earl, who made everything go so smooth—it seemed too good to be true. But Lori’s a pro, and that’s what pros do. Quite often, an überstar will have a team that’s just so frustrating to work with. It’s like they have the same ego as the artist, even though their level of accomplishment and fan base are drastically different. Ha! This makes things no fun, and actually more of a fight from the start. It becomes a bit more than wrestling.

But I digress. None of this was the case this month, and what a breath of fresh air it was to have the only battle be actually shipping the magazine (that was an epic-sized one this month, for some reason). Thank God we’re on our double issue, ’cause we need some rejuvenation time. We have the relaunch, which we’re extremely excited about, but it took a lot of work. Many thanks to Stephen De’Andrea, Lisa Case and the Harris Web team for making a dope new website for us. Y’all have to go check it out and read some of our Dr. Dre story and the outtakes. Let us know what you think (@VSattenXXL).

But back to the mag… This issue kind of turned into a producers’ special, in a way, where we just happen to have some stories on beatmakers who had big years. First, of course, there’s Dre, but then we caught up with Swizz Beatz, who, right under our hip-hop schnoz, seems to be taking himself into a new status of hip-hop success. Then there is teen sensation Lex Luger, the new sound of the South, who dominated 2010. I love that Lex is 19 and his real name is Lexus and he made the beats in his mom’s house! Lastly, we reviewed Kanye West’s album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and we have given Kanye his third XXL. Now, anyone who knows me knows I am not the biggest KW fan by any means, but the album is very strong, some of it light-years away from what other folks are doing now. And whether you like Kanye as a person or not, his Fantasy is pretty fantastic.
(I can’t believe that’s me talking about Kanye West.)

Also in the issue, we have stories about that monster Nicki Minaj, plus her former manager, Waka’s mom, Deb. We examine the status and power of hip-hop radio today and explore the pop-rap phenomenon that is alive, kicking and making money.

We have some time off before the next issue, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get hip-hop every day from us. Just check out to keep in touch with hip-hop on a higher level. Get ready for next month. We’re working on something special. Then we got the Freshmen issue, and y’all know how that goes. We got a list. It’s not filled, but we know some names we are feeling already… You do, too.

Smoke some, toke some,

Vanessa Satten