Sure, their film reviews are hated by geeks. Yes, they follow trends incessantly. And yes, music coverage is generally an afterthought. But it’s surely the most fun weekly read out there, and they have television on lock. Plus, they’ll surprise with every now and then with a great piece on overlooked entertainment industry plebs like personal assistants and bodyguards. When it’s on, it’s an incredible value. When it’s not…wait a week.

This issue’s strong points:

  • The Potter coverage is good without being too spoiler-y, and I like the poster-like individual pictures of the newer and bigger players in this latest installment.
  • Verhoeven! Just when you sometimes feel ready to write this mag off as too pulp-y, they do a good bit of coverage on somebody working the margins like ole’ Paul and all is right again. Nice concise look at his career and Black Book.
  • Good reviews across the TV, Music, and Movies spectrum. Usually, these can be brushed aside, but this issue seemed to get it right despite being overly kind to the blah Blades of Glory.
    This issue’s weak points:
    • Filler, Filler, Filler. From the A-Z thing on House to the Potter quix to the "What’s the Buffy cast doing now?" feature, there is way too much wheel-spinning in this issue. I understand filling a weekly ain’t easy, but there’s far too much going on in the worlds of TV and music to let articles like these be what you tout on the cover. Meanwhile, you have to dig to find the Verhoeven piece. Shame, EW.
    • I understand the Jennifer Lopez article, but even the article itself acknowledges that her Spanish album has been bricking and her movie career ain’t exactly aflame. So why should I care? The only thing interesting about the piece is the state of denial she’s in.
    • All in all, it’s a poo issue. the Verhoeven piece isn’t enough to save it by a long shot.Overall: 5.0 out of 10 XXL – MAY 2007

      After the swift descent of The Source, XXL has ascended to the throne as the king of hip-hop journalism, both in print and online. Sure, they favor the big sellers with their feature stories, but they cover it all from producers to indie dudes to older guys not in the limelight as much any more.

      This issue’s strong points:

      • Liked the shorter pieces on the likes of Crime Mob and Mims. These are boring, garden variety acts on the surface, but there are some interesting stories behind how these artists came out of nowhere with no major crew affiliation and managed to cracked the bloated mainstream rap market. As the music industry and the album itself continue to sink into oblivion, I’m more interested in these smaller artists that beat the odds…for a little while at least.
      • They actually made Fabolous somewhat interesting in his piece too. Too bad his single bricked and the album’s been pushed back a good bit making this article no help to him whatsoever.
      • Good reviews that give good shine to some artists of substance like Pharoah Monch, Marco Polo and Evidence. These guys don’t have the profile to sell magazines, so just giving them significant record reviews is a feat in itself.

      This issue’s weak points:

      • Another month. Another weak cover story. I understand that Young Buck’s music is so generic that you have to focus on non-music stuff like his beefs and G-Unit’s industry stature, but if that’s the case, he shouldn’t be cover material.
      • The coverage of the attack on mixtapes is so 5 minutes ago. They are a vital part of hip-hop, granted, but the raid on DJ Drama and his Atlanta operation seems so long ago now and without much new to add, the mag just looks kinda lame here. 
      • This past month saw the release of two great albums from El-P and Black Milk that did a lot to reaffirm my love for hip-hop. Almost no mention of them or the artists behind them here? Big ball dropped, XXL.
      • Frankly, they are in a bit of a pickle. Ozone covers the Southern rap scene so well that XXL almost seems redundant there, and almost nobody else is selling, so what are they to do? Their fortunes seem to be falling with the rest of the music industry right now, and they need to re-focus if they’re going to turn it around.

      Overall: 6.0 out of 10