Hip Hop Connection, Stress, Straight From The Lip, Fat Boss and
Stacks on Stacks on Stacks
A brief history of hip-hop publishing
It’s pouring with rain. It’s the type of rain that manages to make it dark in
the middle of the day, and the type of rain that makes seeing through your
windshield as you crawl along the street trying to read street names nearly
impossible. Eventually BRICK find the right address, park up, and run to shelter.
We knock on a corrugated iron door and walk into a non-descript warehouse
on an equally non-descript industrial estate in South London. This is The Hyman
Archive, officially "The World’s Largest Collection of Magazines", and the home
to approximately 100,000 unique issues spread over 3,000 different titles.
It’s a labyrinth. You could get lost in here. It’s miles and miles of anonymous
grey storage units, until the walls of coloured spines on the second floor hit you.
These walls contain a wealth of periodicals you never knew existed, including
an iconic and obscure back catalogue of hip-hop titles. BRICK pulled out the
best of the best (with honourable mentions to Ego Trip, XXL, 4080, Murder Dog,
Hip Hop Connection, Stress, Straight From The Lip, Fat Boss and Big Daddy)
for Hyman founder James Hyman and his creative lead Tory Turk to give us an
th e hyman ar c hive
James: People constantly cite the golden age of hip-hop as the late
James: You could look at Lenny Moore's short lived (1996-2003)
1980s and early 1990s. To me, the golden age of hip-hop magazines
BLACK GOLD like a hip-hop version of Playboy…
endured until the late 1990s, with many titles sadly shutting shop by the
turn of the millennium. BLAZE launched in 1998 with #1 displaying the
Tory: It’s all about resident Black Gold Entertainment (BGE)
double Method Man cover and, inside, the infamous letter from editor
photographer Jay Lash. Posing in the shiniest brown shirt ever
Jess Washington about Wyclef Jean's shotgun threat should his album
made, his adverts states “You can be Flashed”. If required, his
be dissed. Despite early issues shifting more than 250,000 copies and
pager is 1-800-913-8179. In issue three not only does Guru ride,
over half its pages regularly full of advertising, BLAZE followed the
freshly acquitted for felonious assault, on a jet ski with four BGE
'better to burn out than fade away' mantra, lasting 18 months.
honeys, but there is an interview with “Teen Phenomenon”, Usher.
th e hyman ar c hive
James: The only thing that annoyed me about VIBE was the front
and back cover pages easily coming off due to the abundance of
pages and weak stapling. Aside from that, this brainchild of Quincy
Jones was on point right from its preview launch issue (Fall 1992)
James: Often confused with FEDS (Finally Every Dimension Of The
Tory: As with many of Hyman Archive’s hip-hop publications,
with Naughty by Nature's Treach topless on the cover. Changing its
Street) due to the acronymic title-mastheads, FELON (From Every
it is no surprise that the British Library does not have this
name from "Volume" at the last minute pre-newsstand did it no harm,
Level Of Neighbourhoods) also nested alongside Don Diva, the trio of
magazine. I particularly like the way it sits between psychedelic
as it lasted close to 20 years in physical publication before going
fiercely independent gangster-godfather prison-cultured publications,
60s revival teen rock ‘n’ roll fanzine Feline Frenzy, and Femme
digital. Two classic covers, Tupac, pretty much at the peak of his
the latter two linked to Jules Rutledge. Buying this from Tower Records
Fatales, an American men's magazine focusing on film and
success (February 1994) glaring at you in a straight jacket, the look,
back in the day felt illicit, seeing it tucked away or placed next to other
television actresses, on our shelves.
by-line and attire says it all.
far friendlier publications like People or US Weekly.
th e hyman ar c hive
James: Larry Flynt, best known for his freedom of speech activism
and porn publications such as Hustler was also behind RAP PAGES.
Their most famous cover was an ODB remix of Patrick Demarchelier's
James: I'd call RepresEnt a haunter. Not just because of Biggie's
famous 1993 Rolling Stone cover (originally featuring Janet Jackson),
spectre still spooking hip-hop culture but because that's the name
photographed by B+. Some of the seeds of another 1990s hip-hop
we'd give to a magazine that would continually crop up during our
mag, Ego Trip were sown on this shoot - Brent Rollins & Gabriel Alvarez
initial archiving and cataloguing. As we are near completion on the
both went on to write for said periodical that survived 4 years and 13
2nd archive build, with over double the amount of magazines, it's
issues in print.
back again - Biggie Biggie Biggie watching us.
Tory: This British zine, REMEMBER DON'T SLEEP is pretty serious,
Tory: This is issue five of THE FEVER, a black and white zine geared
with few adverts and lots of DJ lingo. It’s text led but the zine’s
toward the East Coast hip-hop sound of the early to mid 1990s. After
graphics are considered. It’s only 40 pages, but they put the effort to
publisher Gadget notices subscriptions coming in from the West Coast
get an ISSN number (1470-3874) so that’s saying something. The zine
he notes this issue, from 1995, brings some West Side flavour in the
is for those that are committed to hip-hop music and in their words,
form of Tha Alkaholiks. The zine’s first fashion section, "Off The Rack",
“True commitment is never trendy”. This particular issue features an
features Boston-based label Original Pimpgear, being sported by De
interview with Shut up and Dance. Richard Liu aptly titled the piece
La Soul and Guru.
“Rave to the Joy Fantastic“ - also a Prince song.
th e hyman ar c hive
James: This fantastic phoenix rose from the ashes of Skank , the
latter allegedly shutting down after one of its cartoons insinuated that
Linford Christie took steroids; cue lawyers and bye bye UK's first black
James: This is pure old school Tower Records, Piccadilly Circus on
culture comic book circa 1997. BLACK EYE carried on strong with
a Friday night, 'smash & dash' business, rushing in to stack up with
similar panel parodies featuring ridiculous regulars like crime fighter
piles of the latest magazine influx. There'd be several trolleys of new
"Yardie Gal", "Big Val" alongside her "mampy squad", "Cotch Dan" – and
magazines ready for adding to the shelves and I'd dive in to secure
not forgetting plenty of satire aimed at So Solid Crew and UK Garage,
fresh copies, often stopped by another customer asking me a question,
that era's zeitgeist. Such a cool publication it ended up as an exhibit in
thinking I worked there. Back to Rap Sheet - this magazine was
British Library's 2014 "Comics Unmasked: Art & Anarchy" exhibition.
authentically raw in every sense of the word, look, feel and content.
th e hyman ar c hive
Tory: Starting out as a 1988 newsletter, almost three decades later,
THE SOURCE is the longest running rap periodical and quickly
branched off wisely into other media with its annual awards show,
James: THE BOMB is where I really discovered the importance of the
CD compilations and spin-off titles such as Source Sports. It was in
Bay Area in hip-hop's history, simply via this stark black and white zine
the September 1990 issue that editor Jon Shecter, aka J The Sultan,
that fell just short of 50 issues over a 12-year period, if you count its
introduced the that new blurb “The Magazine of Hip-Hop Music,
last March 2003 issue, after a 6-and-a-half-year absence. I learned to
Culture and Politics”, replacing “The Voice of the Rap Music Industry”.
never judge a zine by its cover as here, you could easily be mistaken for
It was also in this issue that the magazine made this apology; “In our
thinking this only touched on graffiti, but far from it. Solid writers, such
last issue a photo of Q Tip on p.24 was mislabeled as Master Ace.”
as Funken-Klein, DJ Shadow, Dave Tompkins, Kutmasta Kurt and Billy
In this edition there is a pull out poster of the beyond excellently
Jam, who in their own right were icons in the game, filled the pages of
dressed X Clan for their debut album To The East, Backwards.
David Paul's bible covering rap's four key cornerstones.