You might not believe it, but this fall, in the Year of our Lord 2005, the Arkansas Times will embark on its 31st year of continuous publication.
We on the staff have long-since traded in our malt liquor for merlot and our smokes (of all sorts) for the nicotine patch, but memories of our poverty-stricken early years make us more than happy to point out the young babes born into Little Rock’s often-dysfunctional media family. It’s the least we can do.
This month, the newcomer is “The Dirty” magazine. Building on that clever title and a shoestring budget, the six-person staff of “The Dirty” hopes to become the voice of Southern hip-hop culture. The first issue, out now and free for the taking, is a slick and sharply produced effort; one its publisher, Fred Nash, and editor, Pamela Bailey, hope to parlay into a bimonthly success story.
Bailey said Nash were working on a church newsletter in the fall of 2002 when the subject of music and Southern rappers came up. Nash mentioned his vision for a publication dedicated to the Southern rap scene. The vision has become reality.
Bailey said her eventual goal is to cover everything hip-hop below the Mason/Dixon Line — doing stories not just about music, but also about business, history, the law and social trends. Bailey said she hopes to “cover issues which concern anyone in the hip-hop generation. We might talk about music, but we might also talk about financial stability.”
Unlike East Coast and West Coast rap, which often concern themselves with gang life or club-hopping, Southern hip-hop artists often rap about “the struggle” — close-to-home topics like poverty and trying to find a job, Bailey said. “They’ll rap about their momma, or what they did today,” she said. “It’s just a different subject matter most of the time with Southern artists.”
Though finding artists and record labels willing to be featured in “The Dirty” has been easier than expected (“They jump at the chance,” Bailey said), what hasn’t been so easy is finding advertisers, especially those willing to pony up for representation in the first issue.
Bailey said that reluctance on the part of advertisers — and the desire to get a magazine on the stands to lure new contacts — is why the first issue went to press with only 40 pages instead of the 80 they envisioned. Advertisers “want to see that it’s a credible publication,” Bailey said. “It’s just a matter of letting them see that you’re serious about it. I’m sure that they get a lot of fly-by-night stuff sometimes.” The new issue has already landed a few new advertisers, Bailey said.
Bailey hopes that within a year the staff can quit their day jobs and work on the magazine full time.
“Most of us work all day and then work on ‘The Dirty’ at night,” she said. “I’d like to get to the point where we are a business in and of ourselves and we can focus all our attention on producing the magazine, because it’ll be a better publication.”
As measure of her faith in her new venture, Bailey made the jump to full time last week, quitting her job with the state Department of Human Services “by the grace of my husband,” Bailey said, laughing. “He was like, ‘Go ahead and do it. Follow your heart.’ ”
Locally, the first issue of “The Dirty” can be found at Vino’s, The Dirty Bird Cafe, Ugly Mike’s Records, and Uncle T’s. A website is coming soon at www.thedirtyspeakerbox.com. For more information on advertising or subscription rates, call Pamela Bailey at 372-0986.
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