R.I.P., Vibe, 1993-2009
Someone had to be around to document hip-hop’s journey to the center of the pop-cultural universe. Enter Vibe. But now it’s gone. Where does that leave hip-hop?
For those who never took to the shiny suits and the advent of bling culture, Vibe probably began to lose its luster a long time ago. The magazine began to be played out around the same time that the music industry started to take a dip and the point at which the Internet began stealing the thunder of all those monthly publications that couldn’t supply information fast enough in the new 24/7 news cycle.
I must admit that I have only been a periodic reader of late myself. Perhaps that says more about me than it does about Vibe, but the reality is that covering hip-hop now is not nearly as interesting as it was back in those heady days of the notorious ‘90s. Souljah Boy and T-Pain just ain’t as compelling as Ol' Dirty Bastard and Bushwick Bill, sorry.
I’m sure there are many who couldn’t stand Vibe, who thought it was too glossy, too mainstream, too interested in mass appeal. Fair enough. However as much as one may want to hate on Vibe, the magazine’s permanent place in the long history of the culture cannot be denied. For me, hip-hop had reached such a point of cultural saturation in the ‘90s that it needed a place like Vibe that would represent this ubiquity in its proper light. In some ways, Vibe is to hip-hop journalism what The Arsenio Hall Show was to late-night television. When Arsenio was on the air, many people hated on the show, but when it was no longer available, people came to realize that something was indeed missing.
Vibe leaves a large footprint. Hip-hop culture is everywhere now, from the most commercial to the deepest underground. In spite of rumors to the contrary, hip-hop ain’t goin’ nowhere. We’ve been here too long to leave now. Hip-hop may not be as groundbreaking and as poignant as it was back in the day, but the culture is in its third decade. To expect that it would be as energetic today as it was while establishing itself is to miss the point. Culture is cyclical. It ebbs, and it flows. Vibe was a major participant in this ebb and flow.
Vibe magazine may be gone now in its traditional paper and ink form, but again it is most certainly not forgotten. Pour out a lil’ liquor in its honor next time you take it to the head. R.I.P., Vibe, ‘til they reminisce over you!
Also: GALLERY--Losing the Vibe