Hip hop, as a business, is on the slow downward slope of its peak of several years ago. The traditional music industry as a whole is crumbling under assault from online distribution. And print magazines, of course, are one of the most perilous business ventures in all media. So the launch this month of the print-based Hip Hop Business Journal is truly an idea that takes after one of its cultural heroes; it combines Tupac Shakur's heedless, go-for-it bravery, his headstrong pride, and his inevitable tendency to die young.
Carroll, who is spending about $2.5 million on the launch, says he is targeting a largely untapped demographic—one with "$500-$600 billion in spending power," he says. "From Disney to Wall Street to the Bronx, this [magazine] is going to be about the business of hip-hop."
"It's going to be [like] the Billboard of Hip-Hop," Carroll continues. "It's a void that needed to be filled."
Two things: Billboard isn't doing so hot itself right now. And it has all the music industry to sell to. And isn't this idea about, oh, ten years too late? If this magazine had launched in 1998, it would have been poised to ride the cultural and economic wave that swept hip hop music into a prime position in American pop culture. Now, it's just prepared to swallow $2.5 million of the publisher's money.
Also: I love creative methods of calculation that can produce results like the one that says Hip Hop Business Journal is sneaking into an untapped $500 billion market. Truly imaginative accounting.
I wish this magazine luck. But Queen Latifah on the premiere cover? If they make it through the year, it will be a testament only to the power of C.R.E.A.M.