EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Datwon Thomas, EIC/COO Of GlobalGrind.com

You may have heard that Datwon Thomas, formerly editor-in-chief of XXL magazine, has jumped ship from print to web. Well, it’s true. Thomas left XXL to become the new editor in chief and COO of GlobalGrind.com, a hip hop news site backed by Russel Simmons. As COO and EIC, he’ll be focusing on both editorial as well as finding ways to generate money for the site.

Thomas told us he’s excited to be coming back to the Web, and despite his many years in print, he’s no stranger to the digital platform. Why’s that? Find out after the jump.

“When I was an intern at Vibe, they were one of the first magazines to have an internet property. In 1996. Nobody really cared about it…we —when The Notorious B.I.G. was killed, Vibe had something online “in a few minutes…[the magazine] had to stop the presses, they had to bump a cover. That was one of the first times I saw the relevance of the Internet and its speed.”

Yet Thomas spent most of his career after Vibe in print, founding King magazine and working at Rides, Hip-Hop Soul, and Scratch, besides XXL, of course. “As much as people say its dying, it is really hard for me to look at it that way. I’m such a lover of the print form and what it can provide in terms of historical value. Your computer could die…I love having a hard copy of something. [But] as far as the business of magazines, I feel that the Internet has taken over. Inless you’re just a diehard doing it only for the love, if you’re looking for a profit it’s gonna be really hard.”

Thomas left XXL just over a year after joining as the magazine’s editor in chief. Executive editor Vanessa Satten takes over the mag for now. “I don’t totally feel as though I’ll abandon print,” Thomas said. “I’m hoping it will revive, but right now I believe the web is the way to go.”

And what about that feud between XXL and Giant? Thomas claims his people had nothing to do with it.

“There was no letterhead [on the release], it said ‘The XXL Family.’ We don’t sign off that way. hHere were a lot of inconsistencies as far as what we’d do for a press release. I would hope its none of our team. I think it might have been a disgruntled former employee, or just somebody wanting to stir up some dust.”