Elliott Wilson has been a trending topic this week, thanks largely to a simmering beef with Drake sparked by the veteran journalist critiquing the Toronto rapper for doing interviews outside of the culture. The comment likely referred to Drake’s recent appearance on Bobbi Althoff’s The Really Good Podcast .
Timing wasn’t completely in Wilson’s favor because when footage of the OG interviewing Trippie Redd at Rolling Loud hit the net, Drake took to the comments to take some digs:
And he wasn’t the only one…
Elliott has never shied away from conflict in his thirty year career, which included bringing his conflicts to his Letters from the Editor. We had the chance to ask Elliott about those infamous letters, as well as this year’s Rap Radar Exclusives and his early rap inspirations during an interview with him at the BET Awards Media House this June.
On his infamous XXL Letters From YN:
I got famously known for sharing my thoughts per month about what was going on and I would kind of give you insight into a little bit of behind the scenes. Now the audience has a lot more access to what’s going on in the business, but back then the music issues were kind of separate from the real world so if you knew I had a problem with this artist I put it in my editorial, ‘I fought with this label. I went against this manager.’ I kind of shared the business you know, pre reality TV,kind of gave you a little bit of an inside look of whatever hardship I was facing that month, but just my page, this was reflected in my passion of it. How determined I was for XXL, at the time was way behind all the other magazines — it wasn’t just The Source, it was Vibe, it was Blaze, it was Rap Pages it was all these other great magazines and I was determined to be #1 and eventually you know I was able to reach that goal.
On this year’s Rap Radar exclusives with Tyler The Creator, Jack Harlow and Joe Budden:
They came out the gate real strong. Tyler The Creator, that really made a lot of noise. I’m so proud that we got that one off. Jack Harlow was also an exclusive because he hadn’t really done any press around his album Jackman with the movie [White Men Can’t Jump] coming out so we worked hard to get those exclusives, so that kind of got us out the gate really well. We just dropped one with Joe Budden, you know we want to start interviewing our peers. That’s usually not our style of shit but that felt good. We just wanted to step up the level of booking, step up the level of production, like we’re really trying to go hard the second season. We just happened to be back and you know we got a good cadence where the audio comes out Thursday the video comes out Friday, so no more waits.
On Interviewing NBA YoungBoy in Utah:
Yeah Young Boy, you know he that he switched the style up, you know he’s he tried to go to peaceful route, he got he got hyped up back again, he can’t help that part, but in that moment I think he was very sincere and like his fans are just insane and that still has like 2.2 million views. I’m gonna put my chest out saying that’s the biggest hip hop interview of the year, because it’s I think it’s got the most views of any anything I’ve seen, so I’m very proud of that too man. We had to go to Utah. He was still under that house arrest. There was so much politics. It was freezing. I never been to Utah. So we worked hard for that. I mean that’s one of the great things. We just kind of came in and out. Went to the house and we could we can only have three people at the house at one time, so we had to like have our camera, us and him. So as soon as we come in he’s by himself so he’s like, ‘How you gentlemen doing?’ I was like, ‘Oh my God. Hey what’s up man?’ So then we sit down. I’ve never met him so it’s just real awkward silence, so it’s just, us again him and three people so me, B.Dot and the cameraman so when we finished, the camera guy left and Kenya, the photographer she came in. She shot it and we was out. We never had more than three people in the house and we just was in and out.
On the moment hip-hop changed his life:
Wow I think my love for Run DMC, because I first heard about hip-hop, through you know like the Cold Crush and the tapes that existed and Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash. I like that stuff, but that was more kind of like the stuff that was my big cousin or my friends or people that I knew, that was their music, but Run DMC felt like my music. Being from Queens and them being a sort of different style than what the old school rappers before them were, I connected from jump. I just have so much pride and then to see how big Run DMC got and how they conquered the world, they gave me inspiration, that hip hop, this thing I love with my friends in New York. It’s not just a local thing, it’s nationwide. There’s a kid in Georgia, there’s a kid in, you know, Oregon, there’s a kid in Japan that likes this, and Run DMC was to me the first to break it down. LL Cool J as an individual right after them. So having those guys from Queens, not not too far from where I grew up, they served as a lot of inspiration that I want to get in this and I’m not I’m not good enough to rap but I want to somehow be connected to this culture.
On his favorite era of hip-hop:
The 90s is our defining era, our Motown you know and I am happy to say I was a contributor, a writer and editor in that phase. I started writing in 1992 for independent magazines, ego trip, Beat Down and then ego trip, Source. I got The Source music editor job in ’96. I did that for 1998 and then XXL was 99 to to to 2008. So the 90s I was working, and we documented — I would say the
’90s was dope because we loved the ’80s so much that we felt we could never match that, or fill their shoes so we went extra hard and in many ways we did. So I look at the ’80s now sort of a pioneering era. I got to still be a fan but the ’90s to me is not only the greatest era because the music’s great, but I also was in the business of it, learning about it in real time and you know doing things right and making mistakes too. I definitely feel like the 90s is still like our defining era.
On Busta Rhymes Being Honored At The BET Awards:
I like that they are paying tribute to my guy Busta Rhymes. I always say Busta, guys like Busta, Fat Joe, like they’re like the heartbeat of the culture. I found out later. I didn’t know Busta was being getting a tribute and I’m just so excited to see him getting back in the spotlight and getting the love he’s getting. I know he’s working on the album with Swizz and Timbaland and Pharrell, so I’m Team Busta. There’s also gonna be great – with HipHop50, a lot of artists, like the Kid and Plays, and so on will be in the building. A lot of great artists that don’t get the light that they deserve, giving them a chance to showcase HipHop50 kind of makes everything relevant, giving everybody a platform, so I’m excited to see artists I haven’t seen a long time. I’m really excited for Busta Rhymes getting his due and getting respected because you know he’s such a good passionate dude. He’s got the strongest daps in hip hop and the biggest hugs. We’ve had tough times when it you know it could go another way but we got through them as grown men and like there’s nothing but love and blessings to him.
We’ve got nothing but respect for this OG and hope he and Drake are able to work through their differences the same way Elliott mentioned he has with other artists.
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