Sorry for the no-show last week, but I was actually in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport for an extended stay. My itinerary had me on a flight to Moline but that flight was canceled, twice. I tried to switch to a flight to Cedar Rapids, only for that flight to be canceled. Finally, I ended up on a flight to Peoria, four hours later.
As a result of the detour, I didn’t reach my destination until way too late to write. Plus, I was in a foul mood because, despite the four hours they had to get things straight, my luggage didn’t made it to Peoria, but rather went to Cedar Rapids. It was a journey.
But on the journey I picked up the latest issue of XXL. Now, I used to be an avid reader of the mag. I can remember the heyday of hip-hop magazines when Blaze (a.k.a. the one I miss the most), The Source, XXL and even Vibe were must-reads.
These days, The Source is almost always touting its new management, XXL seems to have Curtis Jackson on every other cover and Vibe almost ran out of money for the March issue. It’s a dark time.
Still, I picked up the latest issue of XXL for a few reasons:
I was genuinely curious what I’d been missing. I’m so out of touch with what’s popular in hip-hop right now that I might as well be an infant or a fifty-year-old white woman. I mean I’m getting nostalgic for the heyday of Ruff Ryders, which is sort of scary.
I’m a fan of Cam’ron. Seriously. I’m not even really ashamed of that fact. I still think that Cam is an example of “the road not taken” in terms of his style and his skill. He chose to sell records rather than spit, and I can’t really hate on him for that.
But the main reason for the issue getting purchased was to read about the making of Illmatic, behind the scenes, track by track. It was a really dope read. Some things that stood out to me;
Search is a bitter dude. He’s one guy who holds a grudge. I can sort of get his beef with Pete Rock, but man, he really put Pete on blast for a situation of which Pete might not have been aware. Meanwhile, Pete Rock still has a viable career and Search has been M.I.A. for a minute.
Primo has humility. It’s sort of nice to hear Primo talk about the pressures of his name. I mean, back in 1994 having a DJ Premier beat was still a big deal, but hearing how he felt pressure to be on top of his game was really sort of refreshing.
Nas is a cool dude. In the piece, Nas recounts how he lost his rhyme book. How many emcees would admit to that? He’s just a real dude who makes mistakes like everyone else. Again, it’s refreshing.
Yeah, that piece really sold me on the issue, but the review section reminded me why I don’t buy this book regularly—it was full of stuff that I’m never going to try or buy. The rest of the magazine was mostly just stuff that I wasn’t going to bother reading.
Still, I’m sure I’ll pick it up the next time they break down a classic album’s origins.