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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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