When the new XXL cover dropped this week it set off the usual wave of debates about who was on it, who wasn't, and if a spot on the cover even matters. What about Rapsody? What about Mick Jenkins? And if we're talking rappers who have already achieved crossover success with the possibility of more success in front of them, what about Post Malone?
XXL Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten went on the Breakfast Club shortly following the cover's release and addressed Post's absence head-on:
“We were told by his camp that he wasn’t paying attention to hip-hop so much. He was going in more of a rock/pop/country direction…. Once we heard that he wasn’t really acknowledging hip-hop...that’s a message that you don’t really wanna be in the hip-hop world. So we’re just gonna let it go.”
Apparently, that was news to Post Malone, who took to Instagram today to fire back at XXL and Satten's quotes, writing in part that:
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"I shouldn't be chastised for expressing myself in whatever way I see fit. That being said, I have never once said, 'I'm not going to make hip-hop anymore.' I have a HIP-HOP album coming out in August, I made a HIP-Hop mixtape promoting my HIP-HOP album....I want to continue making hip-hop.
"I didn't want to do the cover because I was tired and didn't want to take the six hour flight to NY. From the horse's mouth, no he said/she said. If you don't like me, politely fuck off."
I clearly wasn't in the room for any of these conversations, but I've spent enough years trying to work with rappers through various "camps" to make an educated guess at how this really went down. Post himself never told XXL that he was trying to veer away from hip-hop, but in an effort to maintain a good relationship with the magazine while also turning down the slot, some manager or publicist laid out the "We're going in a different direction" spiel to XXL. (I've had a version of that same conversation with a manager/publicist more times than I can count.)
XXL, salty they were turned down, took that behind-the-scenes conversation public, Post understandably felt like words were being put into this mouth, and boom, here we are.
Beyond the media-rapper drama though, the obvious real topic at hand here is who gets to decide who is and isn't hip-hop, and in an age where genre lines, and racial lines, are being crossed more fluidly than ever, what does it even mean to be a "rapper" in 2016? It's not the kind of question that will ever reach any kind of consensus or have a clear answer, but it's the question of our age, and White Iverson (along with a certain other XXL Freshmen) can expect to be at the center of those discussions for years to come.
UPDATE: I don't want to say I called it, but...XXL has responded to Post, laying the blame at the feet of his camp.