First issue date: December 1994
On the cover: Common Sense
Cover line: Common Sense
Editor: Kevin Beacham
Art director: Boom Design
Photographer: Jason "J-Bird" Cook
Caught In The Middle emerged out of Chicago at a time when hip-hop media—if not hip-hop itself—was strictly a bicoastal thing. The title quietly expresses the frustration of fly-over states who knew they had fly MCs. The cover is quietly dope, and the money-green hue made clear they were all about the paper. Although the publication proved to be short-lived, it made an important statement that would reverberate for years to come.
Kevin Beacham says: "We were based out of Chicago, and the '90s was a time when there were a lot of things happening. It was sort of this feeling in Chicago of frustration because they weren’t getting noticed by the West Coast or East Coast record labels. So it was happening in Chicago, and everyone was pretty much ignoring it, and that was sort of the theme of Caught In The Middle—a magazine that would push hip-hop Chicago to the outside world but also have the outside world involved in it, too.
That was right around before Common was about to do his second album. He was one of the biggest artists representing Chicago. We took that opportunity as a great way to make a statement with him on the front cover, sort of incognito, not even fully glamorize it like he’s going to be the next to blow up—just like, 'Hey, here’s a little something from Chicago that you should know about.' We made a decision with the first issue to always, no matter what happened, make the front cover a local artist."