Lil Wayne being shipped off to the pokey this week, just in time for Valentines Day, serves to highlight the fact that the TIs have yet to come up with a suitable replacement. Some rappers have managed to co-opt his drugged-out fake gangbanger image, while other rappers have come up with their own versions of his retarded music, but none of them have succeeded in making very many people give a shit. What gives?

If it wasn't already clear the Gucci Mane was being positioned by the TIs to replace Lil Wayne while the latter went off the deep end on drugs and ended up in jail, it should be clear from the new issue of XXL, which I stumbled upon the other day in Borders. They've got him dressed just like Lil Wayne has been dressed on any number of magazine covers he's been on in the past few years, including seemingly every third issue of XXL, i.e. shirtless and not particularly health-looking, covered in tattoos and jewelry that just looks silly.

Of course it didn't help matters that Lil Wayne is on the cover of the current issue of Rolling Stone, and of course Rolling Stone is on the same rack as XXL, along with the three or four other music magazines still in print these days. It'll be interesting to see which one of those issues sells better than the other. I know XXL and Rolling Stone sometimes beef over the artists on their covers. Like when 50 Cent and Kanye West both had albums coming out the same day, and they both opted to go pose for the white man rather than XXL, which is only white in the sense that it's owned and operated by white people.

Putting Gucci Mane on the cover of the March issue probably seemed like a good ideal last fall, or whenever they came up with it, back before his album didn't sell nearly as well you might think, given the coverage it's received in the New York Times, and before - as it turned out - he ended up having to do a bid himself. Which obviously hasn't helped matters any, business-wise. He should have had his lawyers see about getting him the most convenient sentence possible for his career, like T.I. got. Yeah, it might have led to rumblings that he told on somebody, but lest we forget he killed one of Young Jeezy's weed carriers. That's gotta count for something, right? Who has T.I. ever killed?

[I came up with a really awful joke here, but I decided not to use it, because I'm trying to be a better person.]

Drake doesn't have Lil Wayne's look, but he does have Lil Wayne's sound, albeit a lamer, whitewashed version of it. He's like the Pat Boone to Lil Wayne's Little Richard (extra nullus) - which is fascinating both in the sense that shit like that is still going on 50-plus years after the fact, and in the sense that there might be a correlation between LCD rappers and older black musicians adopting Lil and Young monikers that I'd yet to consider. There were blues musicians named Young Something or Other, right? I might have to consult Noz' formspring.

If only Drake could look at all presentable posing on the cover of a magazine with his shirt off, he'd have something approaching the complete package. No homo. But something tells me that's not gonna happen. Drake obviously doesn't have very strong genes. I saw a picture of him and his mother on the red carpet at the Grammys, and she looked like a broke Estelle Getty. Which only served to make him look even more like Bea Arthur. I know.... who am I to talk? I look like your grandpa looked right before he died, and I might even wear the same clothes. But I earned these health issues from years of hard living. Drake hasn't even been alive long enough to do this kind of damage. And yet he can hardly sing "Best I Ever Had" on stage without fucking up his knee.

Oddly enough, the only other rap-related magazine cover at the Borders I was at the other day was the new issue of Complex, with Drake on one side, and my future ex-wife Michelle Trachtenberg on the other side. They keep Complex with the men's magazines rather than with the rap magazines, so they had them all turned to the side with the good-looking pussy on it. But even if they didn't, that probably would have been the best move. That Drake cover is one of the gayer things I've seen in my life. Not that I've (purposely) seen anything gay. I'm just saying. They've actually got him emerging from a rainbow. And then, as if it wasn't already clear that those d-bags at Complex are playing a cruel trick on him, the cover line reads something to the effect of, "Is Drake just a bunch of hype?"

Drake prides himself on having received a $2 million deal from the TIs without any assistance from the TIs, whatever the fuck that's supposed to mean, but he might need to see if they can't get him a publicist. They can't just have him looking any old way. This Complex cover is just the latest in a growing backlash I've noticed having to do with him being kind of a fruit. First there was that motivational poster of him in a wheelchair I put together. Then another white rapper called him a studio gangster. Then someone turned up a picture of him from his high school yearbook looking like a member of the physics club (physics club). Then there was that special Children of Degrassi Street episode of MTV Cribs, with his grandma spitting a hot 16. (No, really.)

I shudder to think what's next.

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