WELCOME TO THE 25TH ISSUE OF THE FADER MAGAZINE. Ah but ah, we’ve got stuff on our minds other than back-patting and pouring Veuve Cliquot on our heads-we’ve been thinking about what, exactly, we would do with the magazine around this fall’s election season. Not so much what we would say, but what we would share with you: our reader. You already know The FADER doesn’t pay too much attention to other magazines or MTV2 or record company release schedules or publicity campaigns. What we care about-what we argue intensely about, what we slam doors over, what we try to throw each other out the window for-is connecting real readers with the real musicians and the ideas in their work. As such we just couldn’t see jumping into the facile fervor and staged drama of the political shell game in this country-the issues faced by the US in 2004 are far too deep to be resolved by electing one rich white guy over another. So: the centerpiece of this issue is a series of three uncensored first-person accounts of American life. Cover comrades Conor Oberst and Mos Def are two of our country’s most thoughtful and articulate musicians; with his bands Bright Eyes and Desaparecidos, Omaha’s Oberst has consistently voiced both ambivalence and anger at the ways in which young America’s future has been stolen by the callous greed and indifference of big business interests. Brooklyn’s Mos Def, on the other hand, has been a standard bearer for politically-leaning yet free-thinking hip-hop since the late ’90s; we’re watching closely to see what he chooses to do with his charisma and his understanding of the way the world works. And while this magazine’s layout places him squarely between the two, rapper Beanie Sigel is grappling with existence in another dimension of American life several degrees removed from the men on the covers-one marked by crime, violence, drug addiction and near-total police presence. We’ve included him in the conversation because while that reality is sadly common in the United States, the jeweled truths buried in the earth of his brutal rhyming are rare. In addition to features scooped right out of America’s realities, illusions, injustices and desires, we also deal with the day to day and share some next-level American steelo cues in our the fashion pages in this issue-both style features represent US natives with equal measure of flash and grime. Yeah, yo-that’s a crazily crazy amount to digest. But it’s our 25th issue, so you should be used to it by now. For our part, we’re back on the grind-that case of champagne is still unopened.