Who killed Vibe magazine?

(Note: I wrote this Thursday and tried to get it to post during the day Friday, while I was en route to kick it with straight-haired hoes, but I never really learned how to use this site. Maybe if I spent five more years in college.)

If you read Gawker (and I’m sure you don’t), you might know they let my boy TAN do a few posts on the weekends, when no one is reading the site anyway. (White people…) He once quoted me at length in a post about Asher Roth. He was gonna let me drop some science about what happened to Vibe, but it kept getting pushed back. Gawker has been having some technical issues with their site. Plus, the guy’s kinda lazy. He might still get around to it, but I’m gonna be gone for the next few weekends in a row – at P-Fork, at Lolla, and at a family reunion. So I figured what the fuck. I’ll just discuss it here today, while I’m on my way to the Chi.

From what I understand, he wanted to focus on how blogs have come to replace magazines, and whether or not that’s what killed Vibe. I notice, whenever I talk to people who write for magazines, they want to talk about some supposed rift between bloggers and print journalists. In interviews, one of the main things they ask me, other than whether I’m afraid a dead Pimp C is gonna show up to my house (I’m not sweating it) is about blogs vs. magazines. Which I’ve of course taken to mean they can’t stand me. They must think I purposely set out to ruin their business. When the truth of the matter is that I could give a rat’s ass about what they do. When I started blogging, I hadn’t so much as thought about a rap magazine in years. I was 23 years old, fer chrissakes.

It would be hard to say what killed Vibe magazine, without being privy to their financial situation. A post on Bossip the other day blames the death of Vibe on the fact that it was run by a bunch of white business people who wouldn’t know from hip-hop culture. They’ve got a picture of the top few people in charge there, and it pretty much confirms what you always thought about these rap magazines. But I’m not sure if that alone was sufficient to put Vibe out of business. Sure, the guy who signed the checks was a cracka-ass cracka, but there were several black women on staff, including the editor in chief. (Along with, granted, a buncha corny-looking white dudes.) And it’s not like the white guys in charge were the ones who pulled the plug. The post on Bossip says the magazine’s main lender ordered it shut down, after it failed to make a scheduled debt payment.

Whether or not they could have put something on it, like a light bill, I’m not sure. If so, maybe they could have used some of the money they put into the Hip Hop Weekly knock-off the Most. Vibe went out of business about two weeks after the Most hit the stands, where it turned out to be the least. Coincidence?

Editor in chief Danyel Smith can be heard taking credit for the brilliant idea that is the Most in a podcast by the blog Black Web 2.0 that hit the Internets some time in between when the Most hit the news stands, and when she was escorted from the building. She probably figured it would sell like pancakes, since the Internets are run by black gossip blogs, aka bored hoodrat blogs. But it must not have occurred to her that they didn’t stand to make much from advertising, since a lot of the girls who read black gossip blogs are on welfare, and you can only buy certain brands when you’re on welfare anyway. It’s a completely captive audience. I should know – I went to school for marketing. In all likelihood, the Most was a last ditch, hail mary effort to get Vibe out of debt. Therefore, more so than anyone else, Danyel Smith should be held accountable for the death of Vibe. After all, it was her idea.

As far as how Vibe got so far into debt in the first place, who knows. My guess is that it may have had something to do with the fact that so very few people really liked it. In several reports I’ve seen on Vibe going out of business it’s been pointed out that it had a circulation of 800,000, but I’m not sure if that’s at all relevant. I got the magazine Blender (which has since gone out of business) in the mail for years, without subscribing. Then one day they had the sheer balls to try to bill me for renewal. I was like, nigga please! If anything, they ought to be paying me, for having taken up time I could have spent looking at pr0n. When Vibe had to tighten its belt earlier this year, they decreased circulation to 600,000. Which I took to mean they stopped sending magazines to 200,000 people they just sent magazines to for free, so they could tell advertisers they reached that many people.

Then you look at the fact that they covered so many things people could give a rat’s ass about, and it’s obvious why they had to pay so many people to read Vibe, which is why they had to borrow so much money. Obviously there aren’t 800,000 people in this country who want to read a story about El Debarge in 2009. There might not be eight. Then there was that Real Rap issue with Young Jeezy on the cover, where it almost seemed like they were purposely taunting us. Like, “Look, we called this the Real Rap issue, then we put Young Jeezy on the cover!” You know LCD rap isn’t as popular as the TIs would have you think. That’s why those guys have to go out on bizarre package tours with people like Ciara and Keyshia Cole. It’s hard to get that many ignorant people in a room, unless there’s been a hurricane or some shit. Meanwhile, you go to a Wu-Tang concert, and it’s nothing but a sea of white guys in cargo shorts, i.e. people with good taste in music. And they haven’t been on the cover of Vibe since I was in middle school.

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  • Kamar

    Bol, you sound a little racist you fat fuck.

    • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

      What up y’all…

      Print media across the board is dying but the reason Vibe was hit harder than most was because of their overhead – what could be the other reason?

      They obviously ignore their core audience; then again, XXL puts Soulja Boy on the cover and we’re still on here so who knows?

  • http://xxlmag.com Twisted


    lol what up homie and im feelin the whole Print Journalists vs Bloggers Tip Bol lol

  • D Cinn Prince Of da Haven Zone

    (which just goes to show i have no life) lol
    and Bol im feelin what u gotta say about
    the Print Journalists Vs Bloggers tip
    ive been a XXL Magazine Devout
    since 2003 and i think (no beef to yall niggas at XXL) they should fire ALMOST all of their journalists and have all of you bloggers become print journalists its much easier for me to read yalls shit. in the infamous words of Ron mexico “NEGRO PLEASE!”

  • Avenger XL

    There was several factors to contributed to the fall of vibe.

    1. Paying postage which is the single most expensive cost of a subscription based magazine.
    2. Paying the news stand mafia for their position on the stand. Yeah thats right magazines pay for product placement and vibe was always in a visible area unless you went to some backwater dump with 4 black people in the town.
    3. They were too vague. They really didn’t cover hip-hop per se just hip-pop and since R&B is all but dead. It is hard to squeeze serious content out of those pre-packaged disposable clowns.
    4. Alienated the hip-hop audience with idiot acts ly announcing that Plies is the future of rap and the crazy ass top rapper list. Talk about LCD rap running wild.

    5. Bad economy advertisers are cutting way back on mass marketing and with the GM gone the only folks trying to advertise in these wack black magazines is the U.S. army and random horrible start up urban fashion lines, gator sneakers really?

  • geico lizard

    Vibe forgot who their target audience was.


  • geico lizard

    “Meanwhile, you go to a Wu-Tang concert, and it’s nothing but a sea of white guys in cargo shorts, i.e. people with good taste in music.”


  • http://myspace.com/federalranga Federal Ranga


    Vibe forgot who their target audience was.
    Co-Sign… but that’s only half the reason.

    Truth is almost all of Vibe’s target audience started reading Essence and it was a wrap.

    XXLmag.com Presents The Commission’s Federal Ranga: On Yo Ass!!! Next Blog Monday, ya’ll!!!


  • P-Matik

    “It’s hard to get that many ignorant people in a room, unless there’s been a hurricane or some shit.”

    LMFAO! *choke*

    “Meanwhile, you go to a Wu-Tang concert, and it’s nothing but a sea of white guys in cargo shorts, i.e. people with good taste in music. And they haven’t been on the cover of Vibe since I was in middle school.”

    I remember hearing Danyel Smith on some internets radio show once talking about how Lil Wayne was the best rapper out there and trying to get someone to disprove her. The fact that she even was trying to do that showed her point was suspect.

  • Curtis75Black

    Please, stop acting like vibe was a true Hip Hop magazine back in the day because it wasn’t !! Yes, they were apart of the Hip Hop/r&b package going on back in the 90′s and early 2000′s just like the Source but they followed the new trend of emcee’s just like XXL has done – putting bullshit acts on their cover, not fucking with artists (only ones who will sell magazines – 50, Em, Jay) and at the same time losing credibility !! When you choose to dictate what’s hot instead of putting what’s hot out there, you’re not fooling anyone but yourself.

    The Blog vs. Mag aspect seems nice but I doubt that really had anything to do with it in the long run.

  • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

    Bol, didn’t you cover this in “Vibe’s finally dead? Bonus!”?

  • http://www.ronmexicocity.com Ron Mexico

    crawford for the win… again

  • Brooklyn ‘Lo

    Vibe from it’s inception was an R&B/Hip-Pop magazine written from a gay perspective. Then they tried to spin the concept into that horrible stand alone Blaze magazine which covered more hip-hop acts from a totally gay perspective. As homophobic as hip-hop is nobody needed to see Snoop Dogg with his shirt off (dude always looked borderline crackish).

  • harmen

    i cosign all of this
    very funny stuff lol that’s all i gotta say this time

  • G2

    “Obviously there aren’t 800,000 people in this country who want to read a story about El Debarge in 2009. There might not be eight.”

    ^^^^^Too funny!!!

    The last couple issues of Vibe I bought had Eminem and Biggie and Puff (that’s right Puff) on the cover.

  • bols gay??

    It’s hard to get that many ignorant people in a room, unless there’s been a hurricane or some shit.

    what if yo mama was in the room? at least there’d be some happy (drained) ignorant people!!

  • http://www.myspace.com/emcdlthemusicprofile EmCDL

    COMMISSION!!! Vibe been losing. I remember when they had the late nite talk show, ya’ll remember that ish? When Sinbad was the host??? I think after that they started to go downhill…that and like it was said before, losing their target auidence to Essence.

    By the way on another note, just want to let ya’ll know that the album I’ve been working on, “MOVIN: SKID ONE” is out available now on the Digstation website, http://www.digstation.com/EmCDL. I know its not necessarily ‘hip hop’ (or what Flapjack calls it, ‘space jazz’), but if you want to listen to something new and different, give it a listen and support ya boy EmCDL! COMMISSION!

  • kedordu

    bols crazy ….. ‘in JD FROM SCRUBS VOICE ‘

  • Dallas Penn

    Two words… Class. And sick.

  • http://twitter.com/michaelbjordan THE UNDERWRITER

    Jesus, this was ill.