I haven’t awaited a death this eagerly since that time the Pope died.
It was way the fuck back in 1995 when I first copped an issue of Vibe magazine. I was on vacation with my parents in Minnesota, and of course I was as bored as motherfucker. I was either at a mall or a convenience store, or maybe I was at a convenience store in a mall, and I saw a copy of that month’s issue of Vibe, with the Wu-Tang Clan on the cover.
I had never copped an issue of Vibe, at that point. I’d seen it on newsstands, going back to its earliest issues, with guys like 2Pac and Snoop Dogg on the cover, but that was never really my thing. I’ve been a hater from jump, and before there was beta male rap to denigrate, there was West Coast rap. But of course I had to cop this new issue. The Wu was my favorite group at the time (natch), and here was Vibe magazine giving them the pub they deserved.
A 14 year-old Bol was too young to understand that Vibe could probably give a rat’s ass about the Wu, and the only reason they were on the cover was because they were having the best year any rap group ever had evar. If only I’d read that Russell Simmons book, about how he was one of the original founders of Vibe, but then he had to quit, because they were hiring too many teh ghey guys. But that didn’t come out until a few years later. No pun intended.
I’ve already told this story both here and on my own site, so I’ll spare you the long version: I got home, copped a subscription, then come to find out every other issue about motherfucking Brandy or somebody. I let the subscription run out, but then my old man got canned from his job and ended up forcing me to reup for two more years, just to get them to stop calling the house. My financial situation has yet to completely recover, to this day.
Fast forward to about 10 years later. I heard a rumor that Vibe magazine had run out of money. The only people they could convince to run an ad were Luster’s Pink Oil Moisturizer, and, of course, the US Army. There was a rumor that there wasn’t gonna be another issue. Then, a few days later, it was announced that they passed a hat around the office – everyone agreed to massive pay cuts and Fridays off, and they’d only print as many issues as they could afford with the money they got from the afro sheen and the baby killers.
I knew, from that point on, that it was only a matter of time before Vibe went out of business. Bonus!
I know – er, I’ve been informed, via Twitter – that we’re supposed to feel sad for Vibe, but the truth of the matter is that Vibe never did anything for me other than take my $20, at a time when I could have used it on the King of Beers. So, why should I be sad to see them go out of business? As Malcolm X once said, chickens coming home to roost never made me sad, it only made me glad. Years later, when I started writing about rap music for a living, so to speak, I never worked for Vibe; Sean Fennessey, the stan who built an online shrine to Kanye West then gave Late Registration a rave review in Pitchfork, worked for Vibe.
Sometimes bad things happen to bad magazines, and this is one of those times. So this afternoon, when you see all of these po-faced tributes to Vibe on Twitter and what have you, think about all of the times when they could have run a feature on someone you actually like, and instead they ran a feature on El Debarge, 25 years after the fact; or that Real Rap issue, with motherfucking Young Jeezy on the cover; or the time they let Elliott Wilson write the top 50 blogs list; or the time they actually sunk so low as to rip off Hip Hop Weekly. And those are just examples from the last year or so. Let’s just be glad there won’t be any more of them.