Written by NZINGHA for ZFACEINC,nyc
I believe the year was 1992. VIBE Magazine was THE hottest magazine in the music business to read outside of Spin Magazine, Interview, The Source and Billboard Magazine that dealt mostly with music charts, statistics and interviews with musicians thrown in for good measure.
But, VIBE? VIBE was a fresh unique voice for music aficionados and industry people as well as for the music loving general public. Not to mention having the #1 charting Rap Group member on the premier cover! VIBE Magazine was becoming a voice for many forms of artistry. VIBE Magazine was becoming the voice of a culture, a youth music based popular music and fashion magazine.
The magazines founder and creator Mr. Quincy Jones (one of my former clients) best known as a Mega Music Producer, Musician, Grammy Winner, Film Scoring Musician, Entrepreneur had now found his hand in another venture…publishing…VIBE Magazine!
VOGUE is considered the bible of the fashion world, yet it missed a whole chapter, a vibe, a flavor, the real a pulse. The void that the real culture in America, the culture that was walking down the streets of NY everyday, the culture that had a style, sound and look! They only caught snippets of it but, the vault was now open and the treasures about to be shared worldwide .
This cover was the real game changer for Mary J. Blige. Word on the streets after this cover and layout was “Yo, Mary is looking riiiiight! Yo for real!” People hadn’t seen Mary in this way…she was blossoming, no sunglasses, no combat boots or caps. She is now a full grown woman and this was her 3rd album “Share My World”…this was new, the new Mary J.
Mary J Blige game changing cover.
Everyone has their own personal soundtrack to their lives and guaranteed VIBE Magazine was part of the reason the music flowed. The streets of NY have a sound, a look and people that shape the cityscape. As I’m bustling down the street to my next meeting (the schedule had me go from a meeting about my next tour dates to meeting several magazine editors).
I enter the building that houses VIBE Magazine. You feel something different in this office building. I looked around and there is this eclectic mix of people (myself included)waiting in the lobby for the elevator. Some wearing pin striped suits, others wearing soul fro’s and others wearing hoodies and tims! This is a reflection of city living.
As you ride up in the elevator it’s not your usual elevator music! Shoot! Jamiroqui, Total, Blackstreet, Maxwell, Das FX, Bjork, Groove Theory, Angie Stone, D’Angelo, Fiona Apple,Soul For Real, TLC, even Biggie Smalls on any occasion. What happened to the usual Frank Sinatra playlist? Mmmmmm get ready, your stop is next.
Lil’ Kim photo the billboard as you entered the offices of VIBE Magazine.
As you step off the elevator it’s like you’re in Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean video where the floor suddenly lights up with his energy. To your left is this huge backlit billboard of the latest photo of Lil’ Kim, and in front of you behind the reception desk is an enormous montage of VIBE covers (at least 7 of them were my covers). Music is everywhere on this floor. Some of the people on that elevator are now at the front desk awaiting their appointment.
You look to the right and there’s the reception waiting area. This waiting area has a huge coffee table centred in giant fresh cut flowers and covered in the previous and current issues of the magazine. A video monitor that just so happens to be playing Mary J. Blige’s song “Happy”. Mmmm just how I was feeling. It was because I was about to go into a meeting with the new Editor In Chief about the next photo shoot, the addition of VIBE Vixen, the next cover shoot in my new position as CONTRIBUTING BEAUTY EDITOR!! Yessss!
HERES A LIL BACK STORY ON MY HIRING AS CONTRIBUTING BEAUTY EDITOR:
This particular photo shoot opened up a whole new door for the magazine. The magazines first ever “Beauty Pages”! This had not been done before at least not in a popular music magazine forum. The man and my friend/colleague Emil Wilbikin had a vision as the then Fashion Editor of the magazine. He presented something new to the powers that be and they went for it!!! Of course only as experimental but, they went for it.
This spread at the time was THE most talked about thing next to who’s album was going to be double platinum and who was going to be the next Grammy winners that year. The shoot took place in the dead of winter I recall and the photographer was Theirry LeGous (who eventually published a beauty book using these pics, he said he adored the Makeup and everything about this shoot).
We were quickly headed to the year 1996 and people were still buzzing about this layout. EMIL called me, he was no longer Fashion Editor but was now…THE Editor In Cheif of VIBE Magazine and wanted Super Model IMAN and I as his Contributing Beauty Editors for VIBE. I worked with the magazine for 5 years and worked on the most noted covers during my time there.
So here are the pictures that started it all.
Photographer: Theirry LeGous
Fashion Editor: Emil Wilbikin
Hair Stylist: Michael Bodai
Makeup Artist: NZINGHA
The original photo taken by Theirry of model Celia was recreated for Brandy on her cover for the annual Sexy Issue.
Fast foreword…I’m in the waiting area at VIBE Magazing about to go into that meeting with Emil we talked about 4 spreads that he’d had in mind and wanted my input. All were fashion and story driven. And one would sadly out of the murder of Biggie Smalls become one of our covers. The other would ironically be a cover shoot with Lil’ Kim.
This was one of VIBE’s first Fashion Spreads. The concept of color was taken from the then colorful Apple iBooks…rember those?!
Photographer: Daniel Garriga
Stylist: Emil Wilbekin
Makeup Artist: NZINGHA
This was part of a hip hop fashion movie story featuring the films of director Alfred Hitchcock. Headlining the story as Alfred Hitchcock is Biggie Smalls, Foxy Brown, Monifah, Kenny Latimore and Monica and a few others. This photo of Biggie would later be the cover of the magazine as our tribute to the now late Artist.
Photographer: Guy Aroch
Stylist: Emil Wilbekin
This next shoot was intended to be a two fold shoot for Lil’ Kim and was actually a two part CD package shoot (we shot the day before for the record label, which wound up being picked for the cover of INTERVIEW Magazine and then the next day for VIBE). No one had seen or will ever see Kim like this before its truly a classic.
Photographer: David LaChappelle
Stylist: Patti Wilson
Years later we’d see the original photo taken by LaChappelle of Kim would be recreated with Nicki Minaj. To me emulation is the highest form of flattery.
Now all the players that made VIBE Magazine percolate were pretty hot and celebrity status themselves in their respected field. But each person had their finger on the pulse of the next latest and greatest thing that would define the era we now call “the 90’s”. These people were the real INFLUENCERS of that era and certainly left and indelible mark in fashion, social culture and music history.
Emil had a lot of people on that Hit List of mover’s and shakers in the music industry glad to have been part of first “HIT MAKER’s” list ;-* That list reads like a serious who’s who to the game. Names; Russell Simmons, Kimora Lee Simmons, Queen Latifah, Kedar Massenburg, Brooke Shields, Dah Len, Miguel Baguer, Alek Wek, Patti Wilson, Misa Hylton Brimm, Brandy, Lil’ Kim, Puffy, yours truly and many more!
The headline for these next 3 pictures reads: “Pop culture guru Andy Warhol said that in the future everyone would be world famous for 15 minutes. So in true hip hop style we sampled Mr. Warhol’s idea of shooting Polaroids of his Famous Factory Friends. Check out VIBE’s Remix.
Photographer: Caroline Torem-Craig”
Some of the Legendary Staff and Friends at VIBE Magazine.
Michaela Angela Davis
Misa Hylton Brimm
Carlton Estillo Jones
Some of the Legendary Photographers I worked with while working on the numerous shoots for VIBE Magazine.
Ellen von Unwerth
💗Anyone I’ve missed on this list know my heart and forgive my mind sending all much love and light.💗