Vanessa Satten has held the title of Editor-in-Chief at XXL Magazine for over the past five years, significantly contributing to the publication becoming the most respected and bestselling urban music magazine in the nation. Satten’s undeniable expertise, passion for the hip-hop culture, and widespread influence, have all garnered her unprecedented respect and success as XXL Magazine’s first ever female Editor-in-Chief.
Raised in Manhattan and upstate New York, Satten always had a love for hip-hop and grew up listening to the likes of 2Pac and Wu-Tang. She discovered her knack for journalism as an intern at XXL Magazine in 1998 – the publication’s second year of existence – and would eventually work her way up the ranks, holding numerous titles including executive editor and deputy editor. As a fan of the massive Cash Money movement happening down south in the late '90s, Satten was influential in scoring XXL its Hot Boys cover story and later snagging the first interview with Juvenile after he controversially left Cash Money Records.
Satten would go on to personally interview Tupac Shakur's mother Afeni Shakur at her home on the eve of the 7th anniversary of his death—a date many speculated would be the resurrection of the rap superstar. In a daring move that would ultimately sell thousands of copies, Satten and her boss at the time, released an XXL cover featuring the Afeni reenacting a famous Tupac pose and wearing his jewelry.
Never afraid of pushing the envelope within the hip-hop culture, Satten was a founder of XXL’s now famous annual Freshman Class cover in 2007. Since its inception, Satten has been at the helm discovering, selecting, interviewing and producing the class editorial features and cover photo shoots every year. The successful Freshman Class covers have helped launch notable careers for most all of its members including Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore, J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa and many more.
After incredibly racking up an incredible list of outstanding achievements at XXL, Satten would take over as Editor-in-Chief in 2009. As the first female Editor-in-Chief of the publication, Satten wasted no time in continuing to build the magazine’s legacy as a leader in the urban print industry. Her incredible list of achievements included interviewing rapper Shyne when he was exiled to Belize after serving a 10-year prison stint, winning the first interview with Cam’ron after his infamous 2-year hiatus, and interviewing artists such as Eminem, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Dr. Dre, Kanye West and many more.
Satten’s roles in cultivating careers for otherwise undiscovered talent, is further proof of her influential reach beyond the XXL boardroom in New York. Her genuine love for hip-hop coupled with her contagious passion to contribute to the growth of the culture, sets her apart in a male-dominated music industry. “I believe in journalism and doing things right," says Satten. "Who’s going to write these stories the way they used to be done. We’re not bloggers, we’re journalists. It has a lot to do with seeing what we used to love about hip-hop, in this new generation of artists." Respected by everyone from A-list producers and artists to high level executives and label heads, Vanessa Satten has humbly raised the bar for urban publications looking to stay relevant in an ever-evolving, social media driven, digital society.