Is this the end for rap magazines?

Word on the street is that every major hip-hop magazine is either going out of business in the short run, or involved in some sort of editorial scandal. Let’s talk about the ones that won’t cause me to have to craft an apology email.

The other day, Gawker received an anonymous tip from someone at Vibe (was that you, Hurricane?) that the atmosphere in the offices there has been incredibly tense as of late, due to the fact that there’s no longer a business case for Vibe magazine.

Supposedly, the only managed to sell three ads for their March issue: 1) some sort of afro sheen product, the likes of which you might see advertised in Jet magazine, right across from the cellulite-laden Beauty of the Week; 2) the US Army, which of course carries with it its own set of sad ethical concerns – to think, some poor kid’s probably gonna have his head blown off, because no one’s buying ads for rap albums anymore; and 3) scammy ringtone site, Jamster – one of these businesses that’s built on trying to get impressionable children to give away their parents’ credit card information.

If this is true, and it seems a bit too specific to be made up, it makes you wonder what kind of L the TIs at Vibe took to print next month’s issue, and how much longer they’re willing to put up with that sort of thing. There were already rumblings that the March issue might not even happen, but then, the same day word leaked of Vibe’s financial difficulties, a statement was released that Vibe wasn’t having any problems printing their March issue. In fact, they managed to get Keyshia Cole. (Take that, Rolling Stone!) In fact, there should be another press release in the next few weeks announcing new hires and promotions.

But if you notice, they didn’t say anything about Vibe not having any financial difficulties. Also, while it mentioned that they might be hiring and promoting some people, it didn’t say whether or not they plan on canning anyone. They might be dropping some of the people who already work there and replacing them with relative no-talents who are willing to work for less money. Overall, I took the statement to mean that they’re gonna try to ride this out until they can dupe someone into taking Vibe off their hands. But in the meantime, they can’t have people thinking that they make less money from ads each month than some blogs.

Hopefully, whoever does end up helping Vibe’s owners cut their losses isn’t capable of using a search engine. Best case scenario, maybe they’ll luck out and find someone who isn’t as interested in turning a profit. These kleptocrats have been known to purchase once proud media institutions, if only for the personal satisfaction that comes from owning your own magazine, newspaper, etc. Which I’m sure is roughly tantamount to having sex with your spouse’s baby’s mother. For example, Rupert Murdoch recently bought the Wall Street Journal, after it had already been clear for some time now that newspapers are a thing of the past. And I’ve heard rumors that this guy Carlos Slim, the world’s richest Mexican – wealthier, in fact, that anyone here in the US (the fuck?) – might cop the New York Times.

Seriously, I don’t know if there’s a bigger L New York could take than having a Mexican own the New York Times. No offense to any Mexicans who might be reading this. I’m just saying. 9/11 was one thing, but this would be something else entirely.

But I digress.

I wonder if that’s the situation over at the Source. I know they’ve got this guy, L. Londell McMillan, who presents himself as their new owner, but I haven’t done enough research into that situation to know whether or not he’s actually just the black front for a group of TIs. Given the fact that he’s supposedly this high powered entertainment lawyer, it doesn’t seem inconceivable that he could be the actual owner, and that he might want to continue publishing the Source, regardless of whether or not there’s a business case for it, for vanity purposes, and also, perhaps, shillery. But given what we know about people in positions of power in hip-hop, I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t.

Anyway, I don’t know if everyone caught the story this week about how the Source called Hell Rell and offered him a writeup in the magazine and on the website for $1,000. He complained about it in an interview somewhere, then come to find out what he was really offered – by some unnamed intern – was an ad in some shit called The Source Independent Hip-Hop Network. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was presented to him more along the lines of, “Dude, if you give us $1,000, we’ll totally get you in the Source,” a la what they supposedly do down at Ozone. Anyway, I guess someone from the Source got at Hell Rell and forced him to issue a statement that the feature he was offered was definitely an ad and not part of the actual editorial. Weak!

I guess it does at least show that they’re concerned about their image. Could it be that they’re actually in this for the long haul? With the alleged business problems at some of these other magazines, they could be in a position to benefit, provided their expectations are low enough.

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  • $ykotic

    Honestly, I always rode with XXL. The mag is just gully.

    Vibe never caught my eye. They always came across as a wanna be hood GQ.

    The Source been dead.

    I think it’s the end of all periodicals. The digital age is here.

  • Izza

    I’d buy The Source just to say I own something that used to be a part of hip-hop.

  • amar

    bol if this is the case with vibe, i wonder where xxl is going. I wonder if when they decide to cut 5 blogs to 2, who they would choose…cause u know they’re not cutting ron mexico and…well, aren’t jackpot/gooch/rob staff that are paid anyway?

    • Jamal7Mile

      Hate to be the bearer of bad news but Gooch got the ax last week. is where you can catch him at now.

      • FlapJack

        What? Why?

        First Jay Smooth, now Goochie Man?

        • Jamal7Mile

          Gooch’s very last post was up for less than an hour. In it, he apologized for saying something in an earlier post that he shouldn’t have said (???) and that we should follow him on twitter.

          Not sure what to make of that but I’ll do what the man said and follow him on twitter.

          Datwon took over shortly after.

        • amar

          lol wow jamal7mile, ur really on your anderson cooper over here, thanks for the info. Hopefully your comment doesn’t get deleted.

          Damn, between this and bol’s posts getting banned every 4 days on here, i’m starting to get the impression that is the evangelist church of hip hop blog websites.

        • FlapJack

          Seems odd.. What could he had said that topped some of Bols racist rants?
          He was allways very positive.

          Anyway, I want him back! (pause)

        • Jamal7Mile

          I don’t know FlapJack, I’ve been thinking about that one for over a week. Yeah, I want him back too.

          LOL@evangelist church of hip hop blog! I was just lucky enough to be in front of the computer when his apology blog popped up, know what I mean? I could’ve been the guy to say “FIRST!!” but I always found that a little annoying, ha ha!

          Not too familiar with twitter, but I’ll try it out before the day is over.



    Mags will always be here (I hope) just have to adjust with the times and technology. Damn Internet, oh how I love thee, but the flow of (mis)information comes at such as fast rate that it’s hard for mags to keep up. But people still want to hold something in their hands…PAUSE!

    • jackpot

      I agree with NWSO,

      There will always be a place for magazine. The readership may continue to chute unfortunately, but there’s just something about reading a magazine.

  • OG Matt Herbz

    You and your fucking digressions. That should be the title of your blog or something. I guess the reason it bothers me so is that I used to fuck with a honey in the office that would sprinkle her “But I digress”‘s ever so sparsely in her day to day conversations. She did it so neatly that whenever she did drop a “But I digress,” it was always a pleasant surprise. It was a breath of fresh air in the otherwise stale buddha-smoke office environment, you know? Anyway, it irks me to see you throw them away so carelessly. With proper usage, even you, Bol, could be catching some mad trim. (No homo just in case)

    But I digress…

    It really is a shame that all these magazines are going under. When I show up to my dentist appointment, (every 6 months…she straddles me while she cleans my teeth…no fear of dentists anymore) I usually have to wait in the waiting room for a few minutes beforehand while she freshens up and removes her underwear and other prohibitive clothing. While I’m just sitting there, cold chillin, I like to pick up a magazine or two and see what’s hot in the Home and Garden, or maybe I just wanna fux with Southern Living for a minute, you know, me living in the South and all. But anyway, in this digital age, words can just more easily be accessed on the computer. You needeth not to muddle up the coffee table anymore, you dig? I could just as easily pull up or on the iPhone. I feel bad for Yellow Nigga’s wifey and all, but you gots to keep up with the times…maybe she could start up a weblog or some shit.

    –OG Matt Herbz–

  • Pierzy

    Every magazine is in trouble, it’s just a question of to what degree. No mag is as thick now as it was even a year or so ago. The advertising dollars just aren’t there and when that dries up, it takes the industry with it. Rolling Stone has been around for 50 years and it suddenly decides to make its format similar to all others? That’s downsizing, plain and simple.

    Recession –> people stop buying frivolous things –> there’s no money in marketing & advertising –> publications have trouble turning a profit…


    I agree with Pierzy all print media not just magazine is taking a hit right now. Since hip-hop/urban publication are a niche market with a limited readership of course they are going down hill. Not to mention the lack of journalism, Heck most rap magazines today amount to a little more than a tabliod rag like Benzino is running post his source magazine days. Like the highlander hip-hop pubs may just get down to one before this financial crisis is over. I mean how many times do I need to be told Plies, LIL WAYNE etc… are the future, most of these mags don’t even have varying opinion. They just copy cat each other at who sucks the worst.

  • the truth

    xxl is a wrap.camron selling issues? please. vibe is done, so is xxl, so is all these other corny urban mags.

  • Chaff

    I’m with Matt Herbz on the overuse of “But I digress” to sound intelligent.

    Carlos Slim isn’t just the richest Mexican in the world, he’s the 2nd richest person in the world behind Warren Buffett.

    And how is New York taking an L because of Slim? Dude already had a stake in the paper and just pumped more money into it. Your whole “9/11 was one thing” isn’t much of an argument.

  • sealsaa

    I hope XXL gets rid of Dawton. His KING magazine background shows. Now he’s adding all of this R&B shit into the magazine. Why is XXL reviewing R&B albums? And interviewing singers and rappers about relationships?(teh gey) I also noticed that he’s cut the letters column short, and he’s got the staff ANSWERING the letters (argh!). It was better when people just wrote in their comments and suggestions. Some compliments, some bitches and complaints. Please, get rid of this guy.

  • macdatruest

    Bol, I think you be tryin to say one thing in your blogs but really got one hidden message about one big event horizon. You like Mark Morrison and your blog is like The Invisibles(Dopest Shit Ever) Graphic Novel Series. Observe:

    “Word on the street is that every major hip-hop magazine is either going out of business in the short run, or involved in some sort of editorial scandal.”

    Translation: XXL, the only MAJOR Hip Hop Magazine is going under fast, Interscope(amongst) other TIs is not getting the buzz they expected for their big name artists through XXL, which SCANDALOUSLY partnered with rapper Eminem for XXL presents Shade45 Magazine & A Years Worth Of G-Unit Covers. Everybody’s Going Down Together, TI’s are pulling their XXL ads

    “Let’s talk about the ones(magazines) that won’t cause me to have to craft an apology email.”

    Translation: I work for XXL mag, and since XXL mag is the mag I’m really referring to in the opening statement, for the rest of the blog I will refer to other (ahem) MAJOR Hip Hop mags like (ahem) Vibe and (double ahem) The Source (obviously not major Bol)

    “There were already rumblings that the March issue might not even happen, but then, the same day word leaked of XXL’s financial difficulties, a statement was released that XXL wasn’t having any problems printing their March issue. In fact, they managed to get Cam’ron. (Take that, Rolling Stone!)”

    To be deciphered….

  • geico lizard

    If the people who run the source thinks hell rell has access to a grand they should be fired and replaced by GED holders. Im not in the music biz and i know that guy has no money im sure cam or jimmy kept his advances.

    Quincy Jones was the black face for vibe for years they had a tv talk show and an awards show so they ran the brand into the toilet fast. Macdatruest was trying to break down the deeper meaning but we wont know the truth until we see which mags and papers survive to see 2010.

  • Curtis75Black

    I felt the same way reading this Blog. Bol should’ve just kept it real.

    • Smel

      Naww that would be “When Keepin it Real Goes Wrong”

      This comment section is almost more interesting then the actual post (and the post is damn interesting)

  • sealsaa

    @ Macdatruest,

    Good post. Especially the part about XXL partnering with Interscope. They are quick to try to humiliate the Sauce (though addmitedly, they’ve been doing an excellent job of that themselves). Objectivity is a joke to these mags. Thats how Lil Kim gets a 5 mic album (the fuck?) and how every 50 Cent album has recieved nothing less than an XL. Thanks, I had forgotten about Shade 45, and R.I.P. to Scratch magazine. Could have been relevant today had XXL left it alone.


    Should have guessed that that last comment I left wouldn’t make it. So much for free speech and all that bullshit.

    But again, I hope that the RUMOR I heard about Harris doing layoffs at XXL isn’t true.


    • macdatruest

      I think Bol is gone after they caught wind of this article….they had to see it if they didnt post your comment. R.I.P. Bol’s Blog.
      Bol= KING MOB from The Invisibles

  • macdatruest

    The piece on Williams was conceived as a reponse to a cover story on 50 in the September issue of XXL. In that article, the rapper claimed he came strapped to a peace summit with rivals from Murder Inc., and suggested that Williams had foreknowledge of a previous attempt on his life. When 50 got wind of the follow-up story he called XXL editor in chief Elliot Wilson and demanded the story be spiked, according to Williams, saying Interscope would pull its ads otherwise.

    Williams claims the fact that he even considered pulling it lends credence to an industry rumor that XXL has a mutual-back-scratching relationship with Interscope and its artists

  • sealsaa

    Thats not really suprising mac. Its a well known fact that ads support mags, and that becomes a problem when objectivity and journalistic credibility come into play, as made clear by Curtis’ umpteen appearances on the cover of XXL, and why none of his albums have ever recieved less than and XL. Then again, I don’t really care for his music, and I AM a notorious hater…

  • Николай Конев

    Занятно, а продолжение будет?

  • chikonik.81

    nigga I was liking your story but i reliazed that you are an ignorant motherfucker how da fuck is a mexican owning the new york times mo important than da tragedy 9-11 you a bama you ARE RACIST. y does it matter if the owner of the ny times is a mxican black or white, latin of what might hve should watch your words..