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Local Hip-Hop: Vibe Talkin’

March 7, 2007

Although the web site has been up since last year, B-More Vibe debuted as a full-color magazine February 1. The hard work of 20-year-old Park Heights native and femcee turned publisher/editor Rogue Vers–the street name she requests to publish–and a very small staff of volunteers, B-More Vibe wants to be the underground portal for local hip-hop community.

“We hail ourselves as by Baltimore artists for Baltimore artists,” says the plucky Rogue over the phone. “That’s our whole thing”

B-More Vibe originally was a quarter-page free ‘zine put out by a then 16-year-old Rogue and her older brother from 2001-’03, which ceased when her brother got married and drifted out of local hip-hop circles. “I was pretty young at the time so I kind of let it go because I didn’t know how to do it myself without him helping me,” she says. “So this past year I decided, ‘You know what? I’m old enough now, I have more experience, the scene has changed so much since then but in a good way.’ So I decided I’m gonna do this myself. So I did my research and next thing you know the first issue was launched and we’re just taking it from there.”

Driven almost entirely by contributions from local artists and DJs and people trafficking in the local hip-hop community, the debut issue features a cover story on WEAA’s Strictly Hip-Hop’s “Madame of Murdaland” Ms. Stress in a run of a few hundred copies. Rogue has sold just more than 100 copies in its first month, currently available only at Hip Hop One Stop at Reisterstown Plaza and Deep Flow Studios in Brooklyn.

She tried to place the mag in independent stores such as Record and Tape Traders and Sound Garden as well with no luck. “I’ve been trying to hit them up but they’re really not so excited about our publication,” she says. “They say it’s too thin and at $5 nobody will buy it. I try to explain to them that it’s not geared toward your average hip-hop fan, that certain people are actually going into stores and buying it and it has great opportunity for them get some customers they wouldn’t normally get coming into the store but it’s all business to them so I wasn’t hating. There’s other places for us.”

In the meantime, Rogue waitresses to maintain the publication—”I take donations on the web site and the ads pay for some of it but it’s really putting much more money in than it’s getting out,” she says—and is busy doing most of the graphic design and photography for the second issue, due May 1, which, as of this conversation, Rogue says will feature a cover story about local consciousness femcee B-Fly.

“We do it by vote from the web site and via e-mail or MySpace,” Rogue says of the B-More Vibe featured artists. “People vote on who they want to see on the cover and they have to be nominated in. So far B-Fly is winning, and I really haven’t seen anybody pass her, but the cover is decided by the fans. And it’s stuff like that that we’re all about.”