When Vibe went down, Complex pulled together an impressive look at dead hip hop magazines. Ballsy considering Marc Ecko himself is about out of cash. (Or has Complex solved the puzzle? Complex Media’s publisher says they have, but that’s his job.) Many years ago when I spent my days in the south Bronx tapping out biographies for a reference publisher, I was contacted by a budding publishing magnate to write a profile of Russell Simmons. I suppose I must have written a Simmons bio in the day job — I wrote hundreds of them, so I really don’t remember. Anyway this guy calls me up, says he’s got a magazine and he wants to pay me to write something. It was to be my first-ever freelance assignment, and I was frightened. The guy’s instructions to me were to deliver “a critical look at Russell Simmons’ business ventures in recent years,” which I thought meant he wanted me to say that Def Comedy Jam was wack and Phat Farm clothes were for suckaz and one of the architects of mainstream hip hop had lost his edge. My first magazine article was to be a hit piece. (In hindsight, that’s probably not what he wanted at all.)
Nonetheless I LexisNexus’ed the crap out of Simmons (or perhaps already had for the bio), boiled it all down to a dozen pages of notes, and made an appointment for a sit-down at Rush Communications HQ in (I think) Soho. I went in good faith, gained entrance, and took a seat in the lobby — trembling a bit knowing my mission was to take down this very successful man, to belittle his accomplishments in a magazine so edgy nobody had ever heard of it. And to think I had no cyanide pill under my tongue in case something went wrong. I sat around for an hour waiting for Russell, who had got behind schedule… and then was told he wouldn’t have time for me that day. And in fact he never did have time for me, which was ok because the young publishing magnate stopped calling.
His name was Barry Wade, and his magazine (really more of a ‘zine) was called One Nut. I had forgotten the name and thought I’d never remember it… but there it is at #2 on Complex’s list. Complex has it down as dead in 1995, which doesn’t fit with my story because I didn’t move to New York until 1997. I can only guess the magazine was dormant and Barry had dreams of bringing it back. Looks like Barry has gone on to bigger and better things.
Fond memories of the chat with Russell Simmons that never was, for a story I had no business writing, for a magazine that might have been dead anyway. Thanks, Complex.