XXL is almost always on point. Their journalists have balls and the interviews are always great. The reviews are unbiased. My only real gripe is that it's released 4 times per year. Oh well, nothing's perfect.
The Source pisses me off. Their journalists have no balls and they always kiss ass when they do interviews. The reviews are based upon who buys more space for advertisements. A good example is the comparison of Def Squad and Black Eyed Peas. Def Squad - 4 mics, BEP - 3 mics. Which album was better? Who had more ads? Just a coincidence? Hell nah, because I can name a whole bunch of other examples.
This month - Queen Latifah!? Why? What great feat has she recently accomplished? Why not Xzibit, who has a new album coming out later this month, has a great new innovative video out, and a single that's been tearing up the airwaves (at least where I live)? Why not Sunz of Man, who just released their stellar debut, which just may be the greatest Wu-Fam album to date? Or even Snoop, who releases his new album, well, today actually, who just made a controversial deal with No Limit Records (he was on the cover a few months back for no apparent reason, it was before the No Limit deal)? No, we get Queen Latifah, who just released a new album which isn't that great, and is currently in a battle with the spectacular super-MC legend Foxy Brown. Guess too much pressure since they haven't had a female on their cover in God knows how long.
Spin, Details, Rolling Stone - Peep KRS-One's verse in "Bulworth". Enough said.
The best hip hop publications are by far simple word of mouth, as well as some of the trades. HITS magazine's very own nasty nes is an imaculate example of what each of us hop hopers who want to be in the business should strive for (in case you didn't know, he spent this past weekend receiving the first annual jimmy hendrix life-time achievement award). okay--so he is my homeboy, but his publication is based upon what the djs on the air and in the streets are feelin'. it doesn't get any more real than that.
wcks urban music director
My all time favorite magazine is VIBE. VIBE has got to be the best hip hop publication because it does not focus on east coast or west coast. The Source used to be great, however it seems as though they have changed their perspective a bit. VIBE's articles are always up on the times. They feature all types of musicians/rappers/singers/models, etc. VIBE does not focus on a certain ethnicity. I love the fact that VIBE includes not only hip hop music but R & B, jazz, latin, alternative; it has a little something for everyone. It also keeps you up to date on all the latest gossip, shows you who's been where, gives you album reviews, shows you what's the latest trend in fashion. I've been a VIBE subscriber for about two years and I don't think that I would ever cancel my subscription. And to top it all of, VIBE has the best covers of any magazine that I have ever seen. I myself am a graphic design major and the design and photography inside the magazine and out is the BOMB! ! ! ! Who got da VIBE?
Ah, a subject close to my heart, hip-hop publications. The wackest hip hop magazine out there is BEAT DOWN (a unabashed bite of the jazz magazine down beat). Reason number one is the way they run their business, rule # 4080, they are shady. I wrote mad articles for them and trooped around town to hit up artists for interviews and 2 years later I still haven't gotten a dime. Reason number 2 is the rag is full of spelling mistakes and bad english. It's as if they never heard of spell check or else don't take time to review their material. Reason number three is they often use horrid backgrounds for articles and as a result it is extremely hard to read. I interviewed DJ Stretch Armstrong and they put the text over a picture of him, yellow text over his white t-shirt, almost impossible to read without a maginifying glass. Those cats are about to go broke for real.
KRS hits a poignant fact in the posse cut on the Bulworth soundtrack. "you write about black mayors and senators, where are your black editors,... recognize the writing skills of a black man!" Many of the articles that report on the culture are from way on the outside peeking in with a telephoto lens. Many artists are mislabelled, e.g "The gangsta rappers Mary J. Blige and Puffy" which was a huge misnomer in a large daily newspaper writing about the death of Biggie. Recently I read that MOP is a group consisting of Suge and Freddy Foxx. Ok so everyone makes mistakes but often people who don't know a thing about hip-hop are assigned to write articles and end up printing a bunch of lies.
Hip-hop magazines in order to survive basically sell their soul to advertisers so for example if you do my favorite source survey, count the total number of pages, count the number of pages that are advertisements (including their extensive fashion spread) and see what percentage is actually content. The Source is not alone, almost every publication does this, you have to inevitably pay the bills. I feel this affects content as you can often see a positive correlation between the number of ads a label takes out in a magazine and the record reviews artists on that label receive. Plain and simple rap publications don't seem to be objective when it comes to records from their major advertisers. Wack records get much props. Magazines often concentrate on the artist of the moment ignoring some other artists with large underground following and like it or not this impacts sales. The same magazines that claim to represent hip hop culture don't give light to underground artists, keeping them underground forever. Magazines like rolling stone won't touch you if you're not multi-platinum, so what's an artist to do.
Davey The problem with hip hop media and magazines id the commercialism. I guess we cant blame them, they are just tryin to get their money. At the forefront you have The Source, regarded as the magazine for hip hop. Just look at who graces their covers...The Firm, Mase and The LOX, Puffy, Master P(2x) This magazine is supposed to be representin' hip hop, but it seems that all they do is rep the acts that are gonna make money.
Don't get me wrong, the magazine still has alot of good columns(Hip Hop Qoutables, Unsigned Hype, Hip Hop 101), but it seems that it istrying to sell it self. On the huge commercial acts. Another publication I have a problem with is VIBE. Although it is not "just" hip hop oriented, it still has a decent amount of hip information. The problem is that they seem so out of touch with what hip hop is. In last year's VIBE Year in Review they gave the best underground album to Capone and Noreaga. That irked me enough, but to see the best lyric "Just because I hate you, dont make you a player" makes me sick. I guess Quincy Jones isnt listening to the Beat in La, or Hot 97 in NY.
I dont think all of hip hop media is bad however. Recently, I have been reading XXL. It is a relatively new magazine that covers hip hop with interesting articles. Recently, they did an article about Redman skydiving, full with pictures of his blunted freefall. I was also very pleased with an article on OutKast. They did an in depth bio of the group covering the differences between the two members and how they can be so different and yet mesh so well together.It seems though that this magazine is destined to have the same flaws in it, that the rest of the big name magazines have.
Once they get to big, they forget about the underground. They keep big name commercial acts on the cover, just sothat they can sustain their enormous readership. If you are as sick of this as me you should check out some of the underground magazines or newsletters that go around. They are usually filled with inter- views, record reviews, and underground music that you wouldnt find in those big name mags. The one I have found to be most entertaing lately is "San Diego Underground" I believe that it only has a 6-800 a month readership, but it is full of great underground record reviews(I mean underground) and some decent interviews.
Keep Writin and Recitin
GOOD HIP HOP PUBLICATIONS:
STRESS MAG, SUBCULTURE MAG. XXL THOSE ARE THE 3 REALEST HIP HOP MAGAZINES. THEY REPRESENT THE ENTIRE CULTURE, ESPECAILLY SUBCULTURE, THEY EVEN HAVE 4 SECTIONS OF THE MAGAZINE TO EACH ASPECT. THEY ALL HAVE VERY GOOD ARTICLES, ESPECIALLY XXL. VERY WELL WRITTEN.
BAD HIP H OP PUBLICATIONS
THE SOURCE, VIBE MAG. TOO OVERLY COMMERCIAL. THEYRE BOTH TURNING INTO FASHION MAGAZINES. BUT THEN AGAIN SO ARE MAD RAPPERS OUT THERE. SO THEYRE JUST DOING WHAT IS GOING TO SELL. THE SOURCE IS TRYING TO GO BACK TO ITS ROOTS AS A GOOD HIP HOP PUBLICATION.
ETERNAL BALANCE EP AVAILABLE NOW $5.OO
I think the media, along with the rest of the non hip-hop nation, doesn't take the music/culture as seriously as they should be. I guess you could partly blame this on the fact that the hip hop they are exposed to is well...wack, I'd say it's not even hip hop. Where does everyone always seem to look when they want to hear music? Empty-V. What kind of "hip hop" does Empty-V play? Pop. Pop bullshit thats all style and no substance, the media sees this and bases there opinion on it. That's the media in general tho.
I feel the hip hop media should be doing more to show hip hop's true image rather than do what they need to to sell magazines etc..I mean the top selling mags out there are The Source and Vibe...which both cater to commercialized, watered-down "hip hop" I mean when Master P can get 5 mics, and Aceyalone only gets 2.5....someone has their head up there ass. I mean do I need to look in the source and see a summer bathing suit showcase? No. The hip hop media isn't balanced as well as it should be. Every time I turn on the radio or TV all I see is pop, or that NY thug Mobb Deep stuff...Its rare I ever hear a conscious rapper, or just a dope lyricist in general, nor do I ever get to read about one.
I can't find many dope hip hop based mags in my area...everyone recommended XXL for me, I picked it up w/high hopes, and was upset to see articles on strippers, pimps, and diamonds...you can't even imagine how *pissed off* I was. Can you maybe direct me to a site where I can purchase a good hip hop magazine? Thanks in advance.
Anyways back to my reply...About the whole east coast bias thing, I don't know about bias, but its just more recognizable w/hip hop because so many of the more popular artists, not just now but before too, came mostly from NY. Just lately I've noticed that alot of albums I've been purchasing lately are from artists hailing from the west: Black Eyed Peas, Hieroglyphics, Jurassic 5, Hobo Junction, Aceyalone etc...tho It doesn't really matter to me. It doesn't matter where someone is from, if its dope I'll buy it. I guess in closing to sum everything up, yes the media's got the wrong image of hip. Yes the hip hop media isn't helping a whole lot, and there are some nice magazines out there, but I'll be damned if I can get them around here.
Go Back Letter's To The Editor Directory
this site is produced by Davey D in association with eLine Productions