In 1993, the nascent phase of hip-hop’s ascent to the pinnacle of pop culture, producer Quincy Jones envisioned a magazine that would deliver the culture in all its attitude, panache, and vibrance to its young, urban demographic. He wanted it to be more inclusive than related, competing rap rags like The Source and XXL, but much more focused on rap and other urban demographics than Spin or Rolling Stone. Partnering with Time Inc. and co-founding editor Scott Poulson-Bryant, Jones brought Vibe into being to tap into the street-oriented and youth-focused new lifestyle, but being an outsider (and considerably older than his target demographic), he still needed the seal of approval from within hip-hop itself.
To that end, he brought in another partner: Up-and-coming mogul/manager Russell Simmons, of Def Jam fame to lend the endeavor that coveted street credibility. However, Simmons clashed with the first editor-in-chief, Jonathan Van Meter; to this day, he’ll deny it, but multiple sources cite his reticence to embrace Van Meter’s more urbane aesthetic, calling it “too fassy” for hip-hop — a West Indian derogatory slang term used to denounce something or someone as being effeminate, or seemingly gay. It’s similar in function to terms like “fruity,” “sweet,” or “suspect.” Simmons went on to found his own rap magazine, Oneworld, that only lasted for six issues before folding (I still have the Lil Kim and Dead Prez-covered issues somewhere at my mom’s crib). Vibe went on to become one of the most influential publications in hip-hop’s history.
In 2017, Complex Media Group, seeking to expand its interest in digital video while strengthening its position in modern hip-hop culture online, began broadcasting the Everyday Struggle show with hosts Joe Budden and DJ Akademiks. Half podcast, half talk show, the videos feature former rapper Budden and Akademiks discussing news and hot topics of the day, with the DJ providing a more moderate foil to the boisterous rapper’s more irreverent takes. On yesterday’s episode, the topics included Brooklyn rapper Desiigner’s standing in the rap world, whether or not Quavo would leave the group Migos for a solo career, and the ever-popular discussion of Kendrick Lamar’s album sales.