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Exclusive: XXL's editor-in-chief talks Lil Wayne magazine cover & hip-hop

Lil Wayne and Vanessa Satten of XXL Magazine
Photo by Atiba Jefferson

On August, 12th Lil Wayne graced yet again, another cover for XXL Magazine for their August/September 2014 issue. On location in Los Angeles, California at P-Rod Skate Park in Canoga Park photographer Atiba Jefferson picked the location to capture the artist for the cover leading up to 'The Carter V' album release. With natural skating talent, Lil Wayne was impressing the staff on hand at the closed set photo shoot with his style and tricks. The magazine chose Jeff Weiss, journalist and contributor to LA Weekly, to interview Lil Wayne to give a fresh perspective of the artist. On hand was Vanessa Satten, former executive editor and now editor-in-chief of XXL Magazine to oversee the entire process. "Everybody likes a Wayne cover," Satten explains "it always does well, people love to read a Wayne interview and it's always a captivating cover." With the anticipated release of his 18th album 'The Carter V,' Lil Wayne has graced the cover of XXL countless times since his music debut in 1997 with the Hot Boys. Satten expresses his relevance for yet another XXL cover, "we've been covering him since 1999, there's been a lot of Wayne" but "his story keeps changing... as time goes on he reveals more than he did in the past, has more stories he wants to tell and his musical situation from album to album changes. The pressure from The Carter V is different than The Carter IV or The Carter III."

During the closed set photo shoot, Lil Wayne discussed details of signing Drake and Nicki Minaj along with his views on the authenticity of current hip hop. In the XXL interview Lil Wayne states, "I know I’m authentic because I’m 35 million years in the game. I don’t know where the authenticity is in the game anymore. Today everyone sounds alike, they looking alike, they acting alike, they dressing alike. I came out when everybody was super different. You had an ODB. You had a Busta Rhymes and then you had a 2Pac. You had a Biggie. And everybody was different.” Over the past few years there's been a great debate on the state of hip-hop and how it's changed from being authentic to commercial. XXL's EIC believes "Hip Hop is for the youth... let the kids decide." With Lil Wayne being just shy of 20 years in the game the youth can take notes and respect what Satten says is the "changing of the guard in what's that meant and how we respect our elders in hip hop and respect the youth in hip hop and how they can come together with this changing dynamic as time goes on." She even touches on the nuances of digital consumption and changes in the culture from corporate influence over the years "everything's changed, every year is more different and that's the impact from the internet changing everything so drastically of how we get our news and how businesses advertise. Within Hip Hop it's how everything functions and it can point right back to the internet. So you know, economy plays a big roll in everything; just the technology; so many different things that have influenced Hip Hop right now because it's such a major music genre that you can't fight it, but at the same time you gotta do your part to keep it as pure and right as you believe."

The Lil Wayne XXL cover is deemed exclusive, as no other outlet has been able to secure interviews with Wayne in the weeks leading up to his release of 'The Carter V.' Satten even confirmed that the XXL staff has yet to hear any pre-release tracks or get an official release date from the artist, however she stated "lyrically he's great! You see him get better and you see when he's working hard. Wayne's in LA now and they say he's recording out there and it's different from him being in Miami for years. The Carter V has a lot of expectations around it but so far it looks like it's going in the right direction." In an sincere tone Satten expresses her appreciation, "I would like to think Lil Wayne likes XXL, we've been good to him over the years as far as covering his music and at the same time I hope that he is a fan & respects the brand." When asked why he chose XXL for the exclusive cover interview Satten mentions "for whatever reason he decided to talk to us about this project there's much respect for that. Thank you [Wayne] for that because we are excited about it in the XXL office. Everyone is excited about The Carter V!"

For more on the August/September 2014 XXL issue and the Lil Wayne interview go to XXL magazine.