It's a Mixtape Shook-Up World

How three street-smart guys with no publishing experience, no money and no distribution launched a high-gloss magazine that's actually making it.

By Kate Kilpatrick
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 25 | Posted Jul. 16, 2008

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The story of the mixtape magazine begins with a bag of pork rinds--cheese-flavored pork rinds.

On a hot July afternoon the three founders of the magazine sit around their publishing headquarters, a first-floor apartment that looks out onto the corner of Broad and Dickinson.

The seventh issue of Foundation, their quarterly magazine, just came back from the printer and today they'll be preparing for the next issue.

Chris Malo and Brian "B. Mack" Mack--32 and 31, respectively--occupy the room's two desks. The third partner, Rob Haney, 26, sporting black-framed glasses, a fitted T-shirt and jeans, is perched on the windowsill. An orange-and-white cat tiptoes across the vinyl-tiled floor.

"Brian has a lot of crazy ideas all the time," says Haney, ticking off a shortlist of his friend's past get-rich-quick schemes, which includes prepaid insurance for taxi drivers and the infamous cheese-flavored pork rinds.

Four years ago, laid off from his computer job and with his unemployment about to run out, Mack registered for school to extend his unemployment benefits and buy himself time while he scrambled for a new plan.

Car talk: Rob Haney(from left), Brian Mack and Chris Malo are grateful to Lil Wayne for losing his temper. Now people know how hard they work.

He considered selling mixtapes, a world he'd been familiar with since his teenage years in Willow Grove collecting compilations by DJs like Tony Touch, DJ Clue and Kid Capri. But he was living with a girlfriend who had a child, and because of potential legal issues over rights to the music on the tapes, he didn't want the house to get raided.

So he dreamt up a new idea--a magazine devoted exclusively to the artists, DJs and culture surrounding the underground world of hip-hop mixtapes.

For unsigned artists, mixtapes are an affordable way of releasing music independently and building the buzz needed to catch the attention of an A&R rep. 50 Cent was an underground mixtape legend for years before he got signed by Eminem's Interscope Records and released Get Rich or Die Tryin' in 2003--becoming a national celebrity overnight with his hit single "In da Club."

For artists already signed to major labels, mixtapes are a way of "feeding the streets"--keeping their buzz going during the long breaks between official album releases. On mixtapes artists can record rawer material that a major label may not feel comfortable cosigning, or test certain tracks to see if they're hits.

But the relationship between artists, mixtape DJs and record labels can be tricky. Labels need mixtape DJs to build their artists' street buzz, so they often arrange the recording sessions or leak prerecorded tracks. Yet mixtapes breach copyright laws, and are technically illegal. Last year DJ Drama--official DJ for Atlanta rapper T.I., and creator of the renowned Gangsta Grillz mixtape series that helped launch the careers of Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne--was arrested on federal racketeering charges after law enforcement officials raided his studio and confiscated more than 80,000 mixtape CDs.

Given the importance of the mixtape market, Mack assumed a mixtape magazine already existed.

He stayed up all night surfing the Internet. There was a page or two in the back of The Source or XXL devoted to mixtapes, but nothing that truly represented the role mixtapes play in marketing and promoting hip-hop on the street.

By morning Mack was ready to enlist his friends.

"I approached Chris specifically because of his passion for rap music," he says. "And I asked Rob specifically because--literally--he's a genius."

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 25 of 25
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1. Foundation Magazines #1 Fan said... on Jul 15, 2008 at 07:26PM

“Real spiffy group of guys . . . . . . . . .Behind everyman is a spectacular woman ;-) ”

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2. Big Mama said... on Jul 15, 2008 at 08:18PM

“And Mother!”

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3. D.Quin said... on Jul 16, 2008 at 06:45AM

“FINALLY! Hard work and dedication plus motivation equals success. B. Mack is as genuine as they come. He is Foundation Magazine. Good work Brian. As I have told you before, I support your insanity. Love, The FAM ”

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4. Jizzy said... on Jul 16, 2008 at 07:19AM

“First and foremost, I would like to congratulate the founders of Foundation Magazine for their hard work and success. As an aspiring Hip Hop artist on the Philly Hip Hop scene, I am glad to hear news about someone making it on the strength of their commitment and hard work. Secondly, I would like to express interest in being featured in the magazine. I have been doing shows in Philly for a few years now. I have a lot of great music that I can't wait to release. I am hoping to network with people just like those who founded this magazine in order to continuously expand my market presence. So... Look me up! @ www.stricklybizz.com Please be sure to sign up for the email listing and leave me some feedback on the message board. My myspace page is www.myspace.com/thegiftsb Chris, Brian, and Rob, hit me up! I got some good music for yall!!! Thanks for your time, TheGift”

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5. TheGift said... on Jul 16, 2008 at 08:19AM

“First and foremost, I would like to congratulate the founders of Foundation Magazine for their hard work and success. As an aspiring Hip Hop artist on the Philly Hip Hop scene, I am glad to hear news about someone making it on the strength of their commitment and hard work. Secondly, I would like to express interest in being featured in the magazine. I have been doing shows in Philly for a few years now. I have a lot of great music that I can't wait to release. I am hoping to network with people just like those who founded this magazine in order to continuously expand my market presence. So... Look me up! @ www.stricklybizz.com Please be sure to sign up for the email listing and leave me some feedback on the message board. My myspace page is www.myspace.com/thegiftsb Chris, Brian, and Rob, hit me up! I got some good music for yall!!! Thanks for your time, TheGift ”

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6. Cj said... on Jul 16, 2008 at 11:57AM

“thats papoose, not pat boose”

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7. confused real nigga said... on Jul 16, 2008 at 03:44PM

“3 white kids running rap huh?????”

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8. getit said... on Jul 16, 2008 at 04:25PM

“yeah yu are confused”

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9. Cj said... on Jul 18, 2008 at 09:13AM

“First and foremost these guys aren't the first Mixtape Magazine is actually the first, and then you also have Blow magazine that is also dedicated to a street element, and also its a magazine in Philly that has great quality ( in terms of style & design) called PhillyMixTape.Com”

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10. Maino said... on Jul 18, 2008 at 10:13AM

“First and foremost these guys aren't the first Mixtape Magazine is actually the first, and then you also have Blow magazine that is also dedicated to a street element, and also its a magazine in Philly that has great quality ( in terms of style & design) called PhillyMixTape.Com”

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11. 8th and norris said... on Jul 18, 2008 at 11:09AM

“The first and only FULL SIZED mixtape magazine is how these guys describe themselves. and Foundation came out at the same time mixtape mag came out, and they no longer exist so pay attention. Not surprised that there is hate here, this is Philly and people always tear eachother down. Congrats Foundation, yall are all over the country right now!!!!!”

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12. 8th and norris said... on Jul 19, 2008 at 02:19AM

“Interesting article. I haven't seen the magazine yet though. Is there a Foundation website yet? Vincent http://thimk.wordpress.com/”

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13. Vincent said... on Jul 19, 2008 at 03:19AM

“Interesting article. I haven't seen the magazine yet though. Is there a Foundation website yet? Vincent http://thimk.wordpress.com/”

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14. PB said... on Jul 19, 2008 at 10:56AM

“www.foundationmag.com”

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15. NormanStocktonHuxley said... on Jul 23, 2008 at 08:09AM

“To print or not to print? that is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings an arrows of outrageous publication or to take arms against a sea of blogs and by opposing, be read.”

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16. UNK D said... on Jul 28, 2008 at 11:46AM

“HEY FROM TAMPA BAY FLORIDA,I BOUGHT YOUR MAG AT THE MUSIC STORE AT THE MALL.I PAGED THROUGH IT .LET ME TELL YOU YOU GUYS "GOT IT",EXCELLENT WORK. I HAD TO BUY ANOTHER BECAUSE A VENDOR IN THE MALL LIKED IT SO MUCH I GAVE IT TO HIM.THE NAME IS PERFECT, YOU'VE GOT THE "FOUNDATION"....ENJOY BUILDING.”

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17. Jizzy said... on Aug 17, 2008 at 02:35PM

“Great story! These guys show it's hope left in Philly 4 Hip-Hop. I'm working w/ a few unsigned hip-hop artists & hip-hop producers in need of some shine. How can i get a in contact w/ these guys?”

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