Hipsterdom just took an L

“If there’s a war against drugs going on, and people on drugs are winning, you know what that means, right?” – Bill Hicks

As long as the magazine Mass Appeal was around, I’d never actually seen one until fairly recently.

The Barnes and Noble by my house doesn’t carry it, but I just so happened to be in a Borders one day, and this magazine caught my eye. It wasn’t Mass Appeal. It was some art magazine with a smokin’ hot white chick on the cover.

So I went over, picked it up and flipped through it. But come to find out, it wasn’t actually pornography or anything. So I put it back on the shelf. Then I looked over, and was like, “Whoa, there’s Mass Appeal. I’ve read about that on the Internets!

Come to find out, book stores don’t carry Mass Appeal alongside the rest of the music magazines. They carry it down by the art magazines, and the weird trust fund baby literary journals and what have you.

Er, they used to, I should say. Just the other day, it was announced that Mass Appeal has become the latest in a long line of niche music-related magazines to go out of business.

In that regard, it joins the likes of the alt-country bible No Depression, and Harp, which I understand is (was) like a more boring version of Paste (with Paste, of course, being the best music magazine evar) – both of which have waved bye bye in the past few months.

And I guess, if you wanted to, you could include our failed sister publication, Scratch, in that litany – though I tend to think of Scratch more so as an offshoot of XXL, owned and operated by the same people, rather than a distinct entity unto itself.

But whatever. Why split hairs at a time like this? The bottom line is that the magazine game is fucked the fuck up.

The issue of Mass Appeal I ended up reading was the one right before this most recent one, with The Game on the cover. I can’t remember who was on the cover, but I think it was some actor no one ever heard of. In fact, that may have been one of the issues that led them to go out of business. And in that sense, their decision to put The Game on the cover could be viewed as a last ditch effort to boost sales, not unlike when Lil’ Wayne showed up on the cover of XXL four times in six months right before Elliott Wilson was let go.

Think about it. Mass Appeal was supposed to be some sort of trendy urban youth magazine for kids in New York. The Game isn’t even from New York. In retrospect, they probably should have just gone ahead and put an attractive woman on the cover. I’ve been to New York before, so I know what it’s like. You can hardly swing a dead cat without hitting a woman with her body in order. (That is, if you’re in the white part of town.) It’s so not like that here in the Midwest.

Another issue might have been the fact that I’m just not sure how many people were interested in reading about the kind of shit they covered. The issue I skimmed had a few hip-hop stories, which I thought was… you know, relevant to me on a personal level, but there was a lot of stories about skateboarding, and wearing tight pants, and spraypainting on shit, and that sort of thing. Which was just not as relevant to a brother such as myself, coming from where I’m from.

I’m not saying they should have switched their content up in order to stay in business. No, I encourage everyone to stick to their vision, even if I don’t find their vision particularly manly. [||] I’m just saying.

Fortunately, I don’t see that as being as much of an issue here at XXL. True, it’s the rare occasion when I flip through an issue of XXL and find anything that interests me in the least bit. But I’m assuming that’s just because I’m smarter than everyone else. And anyway, XXL seems to have gotten along just fine these past 10 years or so without any financial contribution from yours truly. So I’m assuming that XXL, with its lowest common denominator focus, might not be in as much danger in this current downturn.

In fact, the ideal situation for me, financially, would be if all of these smaller hip-hop magazines went out of business, and XXL was the only one left standing. Probably not everyone who used to read, say, Mass Appeal would be interested in switching over to XXL, but I’m sure we’d stand to absorb at least some of their readership. Which would be more than we had before. And I know sometimes a magazine will even buy up the rest of a failed magazine’s circulation. So that could be something management might want to look into.

The only potential downside I can see is that whoever used to write Mass Appeal might now be reduced to blogging, if they can’t talk Vibe magazine into hiring them. Which, theoretically, would mean that they’d be competing with me. And you guys know I don’t like to exert any more effort than I absolutely have to. I can’t say I’m sweating it too much though. If these people couldn’t make it in the world of print journalism, where you can get money to write shit people don’t even want to read, what’s to suggest they’re gonna have any success on the Internets?

What do you hip-hop journalists think? Is it really such a huge tragedy that so many of these niche publications are going under, or is hip-hop journalism’s only really worthwhile contribution these days the fact that it subsidizes the yeoman’s work that I do here? Speak on it.

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  • Keith Hawk

    Why should I spend five bucks on a magazine when I can buy a nicklebag of weed and read about the same shit on the Internet for free?

  • black77026

    but like who gives a fuck right?

  • teh-thomas


    the guy on the mass appeal cover was the actor michael pitt. damn, that was an way out-dated issue they had. lol. i read the feature. it wasn’t bad. you should see his latest movie, funny games, bol. its fucked the fuck up.

    alot of magazines/newspapers suck these days. the only magazine subscription i have is the new yorker. everything else i just visit the bookstore usually once a week or so and pick up what seems interesting.

  • Ryan

    I love Mass Appeal magazine, I’m bummed out to see it go. They had great articles on shit you don’t normally see. I wouldn’t have gotten into Ronnie Price novels if I didn’t read a feature on them in that mag.

  • giantstepp

    Bol, my N*gga…good drop! My personal oppinion is the internets is eventually gonna make all types of print media/newspapers/magazines etc obsolete very soon. I cant remember the last time I bought a newspaper. Sh*t, I just read it on the internets! I’m no expert, but what do you fruits think?

    • Neven

      cosign (no fruit, vegetable sometimes)

      man I don’t even turn the tv on anymore all my movies or show I liked so much I just buy off iTunes any info I go to Wikipedia the day of television is to an end most people have computer monitors for tv screens anyway.

  • og bobby j

    who reads magazines anymore? instead of send out the issues….they should go all virtual and send the subscribers email zip files containing PDf version of the mags…..

    i’ll take 10% when you niccas jack my idea.


    Mass Appeal fell the fuck off after they did the Brooklyn issue in like 2000… The Brooklyn and Queens issues were ridiculously dope though..

  • http://xxlmag.com Billy X. Sunday

    You are to blame for effing the blogging game the eff up the same way Jay-Z is responsible for killing rap music.

    You let people think that this is something they can do after consuming two six packs of Milwaukee’s Best. People start to think this is easy. Rappers start blogging. Bloggers start vlogging and JaySmooth takes over a radio station.

    Not that any of this is a bad thing.

    Look out for the next hipster trend coming out this summer – violent nerdism. Thanks in part to the new Batman movie.


    Mass Appeal was very Boogie Nights noir, minus the Hot Chicks getting the ol’ schluped by the main attraction, anyways, if I was a Journalist of the Urban variety I would Sell-Out and go work for “Access Hollywood” with Dana Devin. Hipsters been taking Loses in this shit…….

  • TheCo!!inB

    ol’ Sunday is right…niggas do start thinkin blogging is easy…you make a few mowfuckas laugh after going in on the Natti Ice and next thing you know you’re typin in wordpress tryin to figure out hyperlinks…..i still fucks with print media though cause that shit is ballin, niggas whose lives have purpose and make paper read paper and that’s really real…..Bol, next time your trying to get your peep on and you don’t wanna tear the plastic off a poom poom periodical just pick up one of those tatooo mags…..sure the bitches, and I mean that in the respectful way, are inked the fuck up but they’re good for a pink nipple or two.

  • Jew-Z

    You gotta have at least one magazine for the toilet though

  • http://www.theunderwriters.blogspot.com THE UNDERWRITER

    Now that I finally got a wireless router, I just take the laptop into the bathroom, set it up on one of those folding wooden TV-dinner tables and read blogs when I chunk up the deuce.

    I keep a good stash of Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes books for the shitter, though.

  • Makaveli


    “Now that I finally got a wireless router, I just take the laptop into the bathroom, set it up on one of those folding wooden TV-dinner tables and read blogs when I chunk up the deuce.”

    I never thought of that!!! I have actually just subscribed to XXL for 12 issues! Haven’t received anything yet though.

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