Every one’s heard by now that the tower known as “Vibe” has caved within itself, leaving a mass of cocky hip hop rubble and R&B dust. Most of us starry eyed writers have a Vibe story we have burning inside of us and I’ve read some great ones from my friends, namely Kenji Japser’s “Flight of the Phoenix” (http://theabandonedship.blogspot.com/2009/07/babel.html). My own story isn’t so great and plentiful as Kenji’s but it still left one of those scars on my writing that I should probably swallow and get over (cause that’s what successful people do) but I’m still working on that.
It was college - duh - and I had a friend (at the time) who was an intern at the newly royal rap magazine. I trudged through the Park Avenue 30’s to get to the infamous office. I carefully selected my outfit - Domsey’s of Brooklyn second hand specials so I could look VERY original - and entered through the elevators. I expected rhymes hanging off the ceiling, Biggie to be cussing somebody out in the lobby, Faith getting her hair done in an office, laughs, undocumented moments of historical black precedence only witnessed by me. That didn’t happen.
I did sit in an office with Kevin Powell, some other editor and my friend (at the time) hearing Kevin wax poetic about, oh, everything. Not a word in edgewise did anyone else get. I did manage to ask him advice on writing. And it was one sentence just that plain because, unbeknownst to most people, I am shy and the shyiest of shy when it comes to people who are doing what I want to do. This has probably hindered my “career” and rendered to be, well, right here but it is who I am and I accept and wish it to be something else too. Back to Kevin. What was his response? “Write whatever you can.” Say what? “Write technical manuals if you can, just write.” Beg your pardon? “Just write.”
Wow. Genius. Hardly the first time anyone has ever let me down with a thump. And rightfully speaking, why should he expound monumental words of wisdom or even wonder what kind of writer I am. It was a perfect answer. Noncommittal, just enough distance to not be villified later. But maybe that’s the problem. I always read stuff other writers send me if they ask me to. Always. My opinion is small and tiny but it’s mine and maybe it will help in the long run. I am possibly too involved. Sometimes I think I were really successful, I wouldn’t have time to do this. And that makes me sad. I don’t want to be that.
Back to “Vibe” or whatever it really was. I always put it in the highchair of my mind. It was always special. I read it. And I didn’t read it. I was envious. I sometimes was a hater. I relished bad stories about the behind scenes of it. I was proud of it when it made history. When the writers left to go to other magazines, I followedly them proudly and unabashedly. Anywhere but there.
This is what happens when the train decides it can run without the passengers. It becomes art for art’s sake and well, that art started to blow hot air into itself. “Vibe” let itself become the content of its magazine rather than the content be the content. We all wanted our own “Rolling Stone” but then “Rolling Stone” couldn’t avoid us marginalized folks anymore as soon as we exploded in the suburban headphones of kids we’d never meet on the street.
In the immortal words of 2LiveCrew we screamed to “Vibe”: “It’s the world biggest dick!” And they responded “It don’t matter, just don’t bite it.”