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It’s been almost seven years since Ludacris has graced the cover of hip-hop magazine XXL. After a squabble with former Editor-In-Chief Elliot Wilson the multi-platinum rapper and actor was never seen on the cover again. But this month he is the face of the publication’s Hollywood issue.

“I vaguely remember the beef with Elliot. I’m not peeping it to that degree,” says Datwon Thomas, current Editor-In-Chief of XXL. “That was before my time.

Thomas worked at XXL from 1997 to 1999 before leaving to run Hookt.com. After leaving Hookt he launched KING magazine in November of 2001 and spun-off RIDES in 2003. He took over as the EIC of XXL in March of this year

“With KING we were never able to do something with Ludacris and the ironic thing is that Word of Mouf came out on the same day as KING,” Datwon remembers with a chuckle. “We did do a RIDES cover in ’05 though.”

When Datwon took over as XXL’s EIC, Ludacris’ manager Chaka Zulu invited him down to Atlanta for dinner

“Chaka was telling me his next project is insane,” he remembers. “Ludacris is like your homeboy, he’s the anti-superstar so you forget that he’s an incredible lyricist. When I heard the push he was doing and with the movie coming out I thought it would be smart to do it now.

However, Datwon is quick to squash the notion that he is pandering to Wilson’s old foes.

“I think anyone that had beef is looking at it as a chance to reconcile and not have that drama,” says Thomas. “That doesn’t mean I’m peachy keen with everybody either. If you had a problem with me before, you might still now. But I want to resolve all problems and make a dope mag.”

With the Presidential election looming the editors were looking for comments from Ludacris about his recent Obama drama, but the rapper wasn’t having it.

“He’s smart enough to know that whatever he said was going to be misconstrued so he just said, ‘Go out and vote.'”

Smoothing over old wrinkles isn’t Thomas’ only task. The magazine and its website are going through a major overhaul to reflect the changing tastes of hip-hop fans.

“Kids listen to Lil Wayne, Gym Class Heroes and they’re skateboarding,” says Thomas. “A lot of hip-hop singles have an R&B flavor so we have to include that.

Find out just how drastic the changes are in the The November 2008 issue of XXL.

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