DAR Hip Hop: The 7 Greatest Hip Hop Magazines

By @TrueGodImmortal

At one point, before the internet was truly king, hip hop magazines were the best and easiest way to consume all the hip hop news and interviews. Journalism was at an all time high in the 90's and 2000s, and as a result, we got a number of hip hop magazines, some good, others not so much. Today, I wanted to take a look back at 7 of those magazines that really had an impact and importance in the culture.


-Of course, XXL is one of the biggest magazines in history, not just hip hop. In terms of numbers, it has to be on par, if not higher than The Source in some aspects. While XXL is pretty bad nowadays with their pandering and horrid interviews, at one point, the magazine was the place to go for all the hip hop news and discussion. XXL began taking over as the top magazine when the whole magazine game began to lose luster due to the internet, but they would have iconic covers that did record numbers, including all of the G-Unit or Interscope covers that came during the 2003-2005 time period. That, to me, is the XXL legacy (especially if you ignore the obnoxious Yellow Nigga editorials that added nothing to your reading experience).


-There had never been a magazine that really looked at southern hip hop and provided them with their own form of journalism and coverage. Ozone set out to change all of that and successfully did so for a while. Founded by Julie Beverly, the magazine became an important fixture on the scene, providing a vision into the mainstream and underground hip hop scenes at the time in the south and surrounding areas of course. For the most part, artists like David Banner, Lil Wayne, T.I., Young Jeezy, and more would be featured on the covers and some epic interviews came from this magazine including a classic Pimp C interview. The magazine would grow to have their own awards at one point, so that alone makes this a must for the list.


-There were very few magazines that highlighted the producers of the genre and culture, but Scratch did that to the max. Often, you would see DJs, producers, and artists on the covers together showcasing the progression and process that is the creation of music and the hip hop genre in general. My favorite cover remains the Nas and DJ Premier one, but unfortunately, nothing even materialized from that iconic cover. Still, in the short time this magazine existed, it was important to the hip hop landscape and gave readers something a bit different than the usual.

*Ego Trip 

-Before XXL had the magazine game on lock, there was Ego Trip. Ego Trip was comprised of editors and brain power from eventual key pieces to XXL like Elliott Wilson and Chairman Mao, bringing more bravado to the hip hop journalism game. They were responsible for some iconic covers, from Ghostface to Biggie, with the Biggie cover being their most notable. The format was different however, and the magazine would only last 13 issues, which spawned four years. Regardless, Ego Trip was a notable fixture in the hip hop magazine game and has to be mentioned.


-While Vibe is more of a neutral magazine between hip hop and R&B, at one point, it was heavily hip hop without question. So many iconic covers came from Vibe magazine that it would be criminal to not include them on this list. Whether it was during the Death Row era or even before then, Vibe was a central magazine in the hip hop culture and they would be responsible for so many big moments. Aside from some iconic interviews, covers with the likes of Death Row, 2Pac, 50 Cent, Puff Daddy, Biggie, and more earned Vibe the respect of the hip hop nation.

*Murder Dog 

-One of the more potent magazines of the time, Murder Dog was a magazine that felt raw and more relatable in terms of the streets. While Murder Dog was hard to find in your local Barnes and Noble, some of the supermarkets would carry it and I would read it faithfully. Whether it was a G-Unit cover, Grind Family cover, Nas cover, Soulja Slim cover, Juvenile cover, or whoever, Murder Dog always gave real stories and interviews with some of the game's best and discussed a lot of things that perhaps some of the other magazines wouldn't dare.

*The Source 

- Of course, this makes the list. The greatest of them all. Before XXL took over, The Source was the mainstream magazine of choice and for good reason. With classic interviews, the mic rating system for albums, and most of all, iconic covers featuring some of the greatest artists ever, The Source was 100% for the hip hop culture. For me, what set The Source apart from the other magazines was that it felt authentic and at some points would also include out of the box things and discuss serious issues in their article. In many ways, The Source influenced what I and other writers do now and for that, it has to be considered the greatest hip hop magazine. Some of my favorite covers came from this magazine and I still wish I had some of those as collector items.



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