Landmark Hip Hop and Rap Digital Collection Nearing Completion

On September 29 of last year, I announced the birth of Hip-Hop and Rap, NA Publishing’s new project to digitize hip hop and rap music magazines from the eighties to the present. To begin, I had before me a long wish list of titles whose publishers were going to receive invitations to participate.

How It Came Together

Over the next year, I sent invitations to as many publishers as I could locate. Some responded; others didn’t. Many of the titles were now nearly forgotten or known only to a limited readership. Unlike with the underground newspapers of the Civil Rights and Vietnam era, librarians did not actively collect hip hop and rap zines. Publishers often didn’t preserve their own archives. If I couldn’t locate a rights holder to request permission, I had to pass on that title.

Urban Ink

But through an evolving social networking campaign that included email, text, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and the phone, as well as the background research of NA Publishing’s Connie Harrison, I discovered other titles that weren’t on the project’s original wish list and was able to locate rights holders and contributors. I developed warm relationships with long-time members of the hip hop and rap community—like Cherryl Aldave, publisher of Headz, the first hip hop zine in North Carolina; and Kevin Beacham, co-publisher of Caught in the Middle, out of Chicago—who gave permission for their zines to come on board and then introduced me to friends and fellow publishers of other zines past and present. Brian Lassiter, producer, writer, and legendary archivist whose hip hop roots in Atlanta, Georgia, go back to the mid-eighties, gave freely of his time and connections over the phone and through emails. I expect my team to scan many issues from his collection.

One more friend I have to add: the legendary DJ Stef who gave permission for me to include Vinyl Exchange, out of San Francisco, and then provided my team with a complete run of issues to scan. A week after we received her package of past issues, Stef died suddenly. One of her last acts before dying was to write a testimonial letter about the project to Annabelle Udo-O’Malley, publisher of Rewind, who then joined the project. When I received the news of Stef’s passing, I contacted Annabelle. She said she was in the process of answering Stef when she received my message.

All of them understood the mission of this project: to preserve hip hop and rap magazines going back to the founding years and to make them accessible to a new, wider audience.

Just in Time

And just in time because many early hip hop and rap zines are hard to find and are nearing extinction. To date, the collection is slated to include the following titles:

4080, The Bomb, Caught in the Middle, Chicago Rocks, Clout, Da Industry Insider Magazine, DJ Times, Elemental, The Flavor, The Flypaper, Ground Level, Headz, Hype, Lava, Murder Dog, Ozone, Philly Street Buzz/Street Buzz/Da Buzz!, PROP$ Magazine, Rap Fanatic, Rap Guide, Rewind, Scribble, Straight From The Lip, Street Flava, Thick Magazine, Urban Ground, Urban Ink, Vinyl Exchange, and Wax Poetics.

But we have so far been unable to locate any copies of some of them. With others, we have located and identified only incomplete runs.

Your Help Is Needed

If we can’t find originals, the titles won’t make it into the collection. I need your help.

  • Do you have copies of any of the above titles in your library collection or personal archives that you could loan us? We will cover all costs for shipping and handling and return them, still in good shape, when we are finished.
  • Did you publish a zine yourself that should be in the collection? Although we are close to completion, we still have room for a few short-run titles or one long-run title. Let it be yours.

Hip-Hop and Rap is the third digital collection in NA Publishing’s Music Magazine Archive Series. The first two, Rock and Folk (still in production themselves but much further along), can be viewed at


password: Hendrix

Last year, Hip-Hop and Rap was a vision. Today it is about to become a reality. Kate Ferguson, former editor in chief of Word Up! and Rap Masters, has called it

… an invaluable resource to historians, educators, researchers, and other aficionados of music, entertainment, and pop culture….

You can help make it better. Write to me at


Crack Team of Digitizers Preserving Music History

Do you miss those cutting-edge hip hop and rap magazines from the eighties and nineties?

Does your favorite academic library have incomplete runs of your favorite rock and folk music magazines and the pages are torn or missing?

For the past seven years, I have been on a crack team of digitizers at sister companies Reveal Digital and NA Publishing who are creating amazing collections of exact digital reproductions of important political and cultural newspapers and magazines from the nineteen fifties onward (with a few that dip into the forties). I’m the guy who figures out who the rights holders are, then researches how to contact them or their heirs and invites them to include their publications in the collections.

Our goals are to preserve these publications, which too often yellow around the edges and crumble as they age; and to make them accessible to current and future readers, for whom if it isn’t in electronic form it doesn’t exist.

Underground Press

Our premier collection was the landmark Independent Voices, which, when it is finished, will include some 1,000 underground, alternative, and literary newspapers and magazines from the fifties through the eighties, encompassing the Civil Rights and Vietnam era antiwar and liberation movements.





Rock Music Magazines

Our current series is of music magazines. The Rock collection is complete with minor exceptions, including sourcing of a few remaining issues of CREEM.



Folk Music Magazines

Folk, including Sing Out!, Broadside, People’s Songs Bulletin, and others, is smaller than Rock but scanning and digitizing continue and it is growing. We’d still like to add a few titles.




If you loved the music, check out the magazines in our collection that covered it:
password: Seeger

Hip Hop and Rap Music Magazines

Next is Hip Hop and Rap. We’re still in the crucial rights-gathering stage. Current and former hip hop and rap editors and publishers:

  • Would you like your magazine to be digitized at no cost to you?
  • Would you like to receive keyword-searchable digital files to put up on your website at no cost to you?

Then email me today at and let’s talk.

I look forward to hearing from you.