On The Street: Why Did Vibe Fail? (VIDEO)


Last night Cam’ron promoted his new album Crime Pays with a concert in midtown. I came for the music (My crib got more poles than the fire department”), but afterwards I opted to stick around outside the B.B. King Blues Club and Grill on 42nd Street to ask my fellow concert-goers why they thought Vibe failed.

The majority of people I spoke with weren’t aware that Vibe had closed earlier that day, and nobody seemed especially interested in why. One man, who identified himself as Sweet Jesus from Queens, put it best: “Magazines are old school.”

Apparently everybody at the Cam’ron show has started getting news from blogs! On the internet! Among the sites they mentioned:

Bossip, “Henny Without Any Coke.” Bossip features equal parts juicy Hip-Hop celebrity gossip (News about Usher’s divorce: “Just because he hits it every now and then doesn’t mean the man is in love“)  and insider media news (“Former Vibe Employee Says ‘Dumb White Folks Ran Vibe Magazine Into Ground‘”). The site design is tough on the eyes, to say the least, but Bossip attracts readers with its edgy attitude, not its appearance. (B-)

Media Take Out, “The Most Visited Urban Website in the World.” The top of Media Take Out looks like HuffPo (lots of white space, CAPS and ellipses) and the bottom looks like Drudge (stacks upon stacks of hard-to-scan text). The site seems to only care about celebrity gossip (“NEW EVIDENCE SUGGESTS THAT MICHAEL JACKSON DID HAVE VITILIGO … AND THAT HE DIDN’T JUST BLEACH HIS SKIN!!! (CONVINCING PICS INSIDE)” ), and displaying it in the most unpleasant way possible. (C)

Rap Radar, “Keep On Movin’.” Although the site’s still in beta (read: still no About Us page), there are between 10-20 posts per day, mostly videos and photos with minimal packaging. The “Q&A” section features original content in the form of polished interview transcripts, but not that polished

Rap Radar: How does your mother feel about you having a song called “Birthday Sex?”
Jeremih: (laughs) She sings it now. At the end of the day she knows…

RR: …You’re a grown ass man.
J: Yeah, and who doesn’t love to have sex? I mean that’s how she had me (laughs).

Founded by former XXL editor-in-chief Elliott Wilson in March, Rap Radar promises to create some original content that is actually worth reading. (B)

The Hip-Hop news consumers I spoke with after the show seemed to favor the speed and volume (and gossip) of blogs over the production value of magazines like Vibe. But painfully ugly blogs that run on celebrity gossip (that most tabloids wouldn’t touch) can’t possibly explain the collapse of Vibe, right? However, treamlined blogs (like Rap Radar) that don’t shy away from breaking gossip but still value original content might be a different story. And if Quincy Jones has his way, Vibe might even have a second life on the Web.

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