Last Wednesday, I was walking through the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, which the organizers of MAGIC Marketplace reserved for street brands like Machiavelli sneakers and Sedgwick and Cedar, when I ran into URB Publisher, Raymond Roker.
I have’t seen Raymond in four years, but here he was, like the street soldier he’s always been, plying the floor of the tradeshow shaking hands with brand managers, recording artists and other fashion industry big wigs.
We spoke for a few minutes. The usual formalities. Then he handed me the new 15-year Anniversary edition of URB. Something, I’m sure in this here today, gone tomorrow industry is an incredible achievment. In the DJ world and beyond, URB can be considered the Rolling Stone of our genre. Always timely, always relevant, it’s the one magazine that has transcended all other urban music and youth culture magazines as the leader in the space. If you’re a young buck wanting to start an urban music and dj culture magazine, URB is the one you tell your friends you want to be better than. And year after year, magazines launch to try and compete with URB (remember Revolution mag in the dotcom era…bit the proverbial dust!), but they just can’t get it right.
This month’s issue is special in that URB asked 13 different recording artists to get together for a tri-fold, 15-year celebratory cover and inside spread. Carlos D. from Interpol, Jean Grae, Moby ?uestlove, DJ Craze, Slug, Princess Superstar, EL-P, The Faint, Cut Chemist, Talib Kweli, TV on the Radio and Armand Van Helden all took time out of their busy schedules to come together and accomodate the request. It’s an amazing cover, which will definitely be a collector’s item. So, look out for your copy on the newstand soon.
Now, Raymond is funny. Mainly because he continues to be more than just a Publisher of a major music magazine. He’s always been a fan of the art of music, which his magazine’s editors and writers cover. And, he’ll always deflect any attention away from himself for the magazine’s continued success onto his constantaly evolving team. His passion for what he does speaks volumes every month, issue after issue.
Only few people on the planet could run a successful music and youth culture magazine for 15-years, and Raymond Roker is one of them. We were chatting and I called Raymond a legend to a few of his staffers, but he quickly said, “who me, I’m not the legend, I was just standing there with Melle Mel, he’s a legend!”
But, I beg to differ and give credit where credit is due. To create a publication such as URB is, in its essence, is a legendary effort. One that has changed many lives. I know how difficult it is to start a business. Netmix was mad difficult. I personally know how difficult it is to publish something day after day, week after week and month after month. It’s no small potatoes. It takes drive, dedication, strength, creativity, patience and perserverance.
So, after 15-years, a few wars, a boom and bust economic cycle, 3 Presidents, 9/11, Hurrican Katrina, the Red Sox winning the World Series and the Yankees play-off slide, which was the worst in Baseball history–URB still kicks it. Month after month, Raymond and his staff meet to determine who are the next best musicians, writers, singers, DJs and more in the urban marketplace.
Hats off to URB for a job well done. Keep up the good work and Happy Anniversary, URB!
Oh, and don’t forget to check out the new URB.com.