Is Hip Hop Becoming Too GQ?

With many magazines going either bankrupt or turning to the web to try and stay afloat, the staff at GQ Magazine is taking a different approach in keeping their magazine circulating.  In recent years, we have seen the editors at GQ turn to more mainstream artists to grab the attention of a different demographic.  Reaching a different audience base not only broadens their pull of readers, but it also keeps their publication in circulation. Not only is the publication turning from traditional models, you can now see actors, actresses, notable television stars, legendary and current sports figures featured. Even recording artists are starting to grace the covers of a once “model” dominated platform.

Now you can find the likes of some of our favorite metrosexual hip hop artists such as Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Pharrell Williams and even Lil’ Wayne. If not on the cover, these adored entertainers are being featured in some of the latest fashions such as Jean-Paul Gautier, Jack Victor, Louis Vuitton and Andrew Marc.  In October’s issue of GQ Magazine both Roc Nation’s, J. Cole and Maybach Music Group’s CEO, Rick Ross were featured.  The shirtless Teflon Don had a small article written by Devin Friedman titled, “Rick Ross’s Simple Lessons For Bosses, Dons, & Bitches” that discussed his new album and how “real niggas don’t send dick flicks”– take that any way you want.

However, it is not only male pop entertainers dominating the covers to push out copies from newstands. Let us not forget about Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, and Beyoncé gracing the cover of Harper’s Bazaar within the last three to four months. With the English singer/songwriter Jessie J being featured in the same magazine and Nicki Minaj ornamenting the cover of November’s issue of W Magazine.These examples have proven to be work for magazines looking to diversify readers.

What message is this sending to our predominant black publications? Magazines such as XXL, VIBE, King, Essence, Ebony and Jet who are set out to appeal to the black reader have to step their game up. Of course we love seeing our leading African Americans featured on the covers of our favorite magazines, but seriously, how many times must we see Queen Latifah on the cover of Essence, Tyler Perry on the cover of Jet, and Ashanti on the cover of Black Hair before we get tired of looking at them? Even the redundancy from Word Up Magazine can be sordid. Drake and Mindless Behavior were found in my checkout aisle repeatedly for the last six months.

As a subscriber of Esquire, VIBE, ESPN, and GQ Magazine, I have watched the growth and decline of magazines. With subscriptions becoming cheaper and advertising flooding more pages than content, publishers have to develop ways to keep readers engaged. Competing magazines have not been as diverse as GQ and hopefully this trend will spread soon. In the age of the Internet, where you can find out what happened 20 seconds ago rather than what happened two months ago, GQ actually features relatable articles. GQ has found a way to experiment with hip hop and try to diversify their content with something that surprises readers and makes them dying to come back for more. With the emergent marriage of hip hop and GQ, there is no better way to do this than feature our favorite hip hop artists on the cover (in moderation).

A traditional Southern gentleman with an eye for ratchet, kool-aid connoisseur, and a soft spot for dark skinned men. A struggling writer who doesn't like ball-point pens.