Urban magazines are becoming more and more like urban radio formats-- redundant, desperate and seemingly out of step with their supposed demographic. Like who still listens to the radio and doesn’t have an iPod? And who is still reading The Source or Vibe when there is XXL and The Fader? Many of us urban peeps are becoming more and more diverse, acculturated and dynamic, yet our mags are seemingly becoming more and more staid and homogeneous in their reach and content.
Speaking of The Source, just two days ago the former publisher, Dave Mays, was on the Star and Bucwild show calling Steve Stoute an Uncle Tom without so much as admitting to how his and Ray Benzino’s self-aggrandizing ways have led to the downfall and ever-plummeting sales of what was once the most authentic source for everything Hiphop. Not only was Dave, a white man, calling certain Black people Uncle Toms, but he also talked a lot about how Eminem and Jimmy Iovine were destroying “our” culture and how no one seems to understand and value Black business the way in which The Source did: “This was our job to expose what was happening in hiphop,” he said to Star who made Dave squirm and even questioned his stance in the Jewish community—basically flipping his whole race and cultural stance back at him from an ethnic pov. I worked at The Source for a hot minute and it was not, needless to say, a bright moment for me. I had to fight for every nickel and dime I earned, while dealing with more than a bit of unprofessionalism and ego from the boys in charge.
I don’t read VIBE either and haven’t for a while. The content doesn’t interest me in the least. It seems like they are more geared toward pleasing teenyboppers who don’t particularly like to read their mags as much as they like to flip through them like picture books ala Right On. For awhile I thought I was the only one not feeling the urban glossy, but even folks that are currently (and formerly) employed by VIBE are bitter and jumping ship.
I do read XXL every now and then but mostly I turn to Trace and Fader for my music info. Fader always has the next ish that’s about to blow and really does a fantastic job covering the alt music scene.
Trace is known for their Black Girls Rule issues, which I absolutely love. They also dig kinda deep and pull out some nice international music features. Like I gotta give them props for their most recent issue about Jamaica. Some of the articles and photos are typical and expected like Sean Paul and the fashion pictorial of magga girls in a Kingston market. But the stories on some of the lesser-known players, esp the women in reggae was refreshing.
In terms of mags for us “urban grrrls” the scene is terrifyingly dry. No Honey, no Suede, no Wink. Not that I was in love with the last issues of Honey or really got Suede’s angle, but it was nice to at least have options. I’m not at all feeling Vibe Vixen, but then I guess from the look of it, they aren’t trying to talk to me or to any of my grrrls over the age of 28.
Jolie oddly has nothing to do w/ Angelina and well, there was just nothing appealing or even new on their pages. It looks like something I may have wanted to read in 1984. Essence seems like they’re making moves to retain…errr assuage their former Suede readership with their recent cover story on Lauryn Hill. The feature was okay. It just didn’t offer anything new or insightful like the previous and very long Trace cover story on her. But I won’t blame the writer for that cause I know L-Boogie is not the easiest person to interview. And oh yeah, big up to Barbara Britton former VP of Essence. Last month this media heavy resigned after a 17-year stint to head her own multicultural marketing firm. Of course Essence will be her first client cause we all know their Music Fest would not be what it is today without her longstanding efforts to bring sponsors onboard.
Well for all y’all that keep asking, theHotness is still kicking. I’ve had some personal matters that I’ve had to attend to (thus the lack of blogs and everything else related to scribin’), but I'm working hard to get the next issue out very, very soon. I am even considering a print version in light of all the insipid blahness that abounds from the urban recesses of newsstands. So give me a shout if you have any ideas, recommendations or advice. I’m ready to make some noise.