Classic Magazines #2
Back when rap had grown out of Word Up magazine and the Source was pretty much the only credible mainstream magazine representing Hip Hop culture, giving up a cover story to a non-commercial cause was unheard of. Back in early 1996 the Sheena Lester-edited magazine Rap Pages took the brave move to become the first. Of course, there were DJ based publications like Bomb but the newsstand titles never gave love to DJ’s, producers and the like. Now we have Scratch and Wax Poetics, to name a couple, who regularly shine the spotlight on the ‘art’ of Hip Hop.
This particular issue of the West Coast based magazine not only showed an appreciation of the DJ but put DJ Premier on the cover. You couldn’t contain the excitement of any true fan who picked this up. It was like a breath of fresh air to not only see a DJ, but Premier, a guy we rarely got any kind of insight into. Of course, now he DJ’s around the globe and is accessible on satellite and web based radio, but back then it was inspired.
Interestingly enough, the contributing editors of this particular issue were Jeff Chang, accomplished writer and author of Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, alongside Chairman ‘Jefferson’ Mao, co-founder of Ego Trip Magazine. It was a Jeff-Fest. Another Ego Trip crew member Gabriel Alvarez was then editor at large for Rap Pages and shortly after bounced to become managing editor at Ego Trip. Brent Rollins art directed Rap Pages and down the line became another key player in the Ego Trip camp. Although Ego Trip launched in ’94, this issue demonstrated the influence they were exerting at that time. So, back to the issue. Pretty much every major DJ or crew were profiled from radio jocks like DJ Stretch Armstrong, Flex and the Awesome Two to mixologists like The Beat Junkies and the Xecutioners. Pioneers like Herc, Jazzy Jay, Bam and DJ Cash Money were all profiled. Of course DJ Premier and The Beatminerz represented the producers.
All in all, it was an excellent issue, not just another magazine with an MC du jour gracing the cover which most would cast away once read, but one to cherish as a moment in history where the ‘back bone’ of Hip Hop obtained their first news stand legitimacy.