LIFE AFTER DEATH: THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF DEAD RAP MAGAZINES
You know how today there’s, like, a zillion blogs dedicated to rap and its various niches? Well, back in the ’90s, that’s what it was like at every newsstand. On any given month you could find dozens of hip-hop magazines offering every take on the scene, from the most mainstream (like VIBE or RapPages) to the most avant-garde (The Nü Skool), to the most absurd (ego trip), to the most arcane (Elementary). Some were full-color glossies with polished art direction, and others were newsprint ‘zines laid out by hand, but all lived and breathed the scene they documented. Unfortunately, as hip-hop moved away from the thinky to the thuggy in the late ’90s, the audience for analysis shrank—and so did the ad dollars. Some soldiered on through the next decade or so, but between rising paper costs, competition with free online content, and dramatically downsized marketing budgets, our current economic crisis has made print publishing rugged like Rwanda.
Just three weeks ago VIBE, the biggest and most authoritative mag chronicling hip-hop culture, imploded as a direct result of the aforementioned conditions. In honor of VIBE, and all the other great magazines that fell before it, take a stroll down memory lane with Complex and peep the definitive history of dead hip-hop magazines (listed in chronological order by the date they folded)—and in doing so, make sure that they all live forever.
(Before you jump into our definitive list, Complex must tip our hats to ego trip’s millionaire benefactor Ted Bawno, who allowed us access to his archive in order to research and scan the lion’s share of original materials found herein. Do yourself a favor and follow Ted’s Twitter, he’ll teach you how to get money. Look how well he taught us.)