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Frequency: Six issues a year
Special issues: There are, but they're not assigned to any specific month from year to year, so check the editorial calendar to see where they land.
Background: Back in 1997, hip-hop was in somewhat of a recession: Two of its biggest stars, Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac, had just been murdered and an obsession with bling-bling had infected the culture like an authenticity-stealing virus. So when The Source magazine reportedly tried to strong arm its writers into doling out favorable reviews of a rap group founded by one of the title's owners, its editors had had enough. Several staffers banded together to launch XXL, a new publication aimed at representing 'hip-hop on a higher level.'
Spoken in the language and attitude of the culture -- bold, cocky, smart -- the Harris Publications imprint underwent a redesign in 2008 and anticipates another somewhere in the near future. Its editorial focus has always been to cover the whole of the culture, including fringe players like R&B artists, film directors, clothing designers and radio personalities. But that doesn't mean that any morsel of news can make it to print just because a black person is at the center of it.