First issue date: July 1988
On the cover: Salt-N-Pepa, Public Enemy, Run-DMC, and Derek B
Cover line: Salt-N-Pepa "Career Girls"
Editor: Chris Hunt
Art director: N/A
Photographer: Normski and others
Rap was stilll a baby when Chris Hunt and Andy Cowan brought rap news to Britain with Hip-Hop Connection magazine. The duo featured some of the most popular acts of the time and added a unique overseas perspective to hip-hop discourse. Although the graphics—a smattering of various geometric shapes and colors—would not suit a modern magazine, they spoke to the playfulness and animation that characterized hip-hop back in the day. An overwhelming number of acts were coming up at the time, and Hip-Hop Connection was determined to bridge the gap by covering them all.
Chris Hunt says: "The first issue of HHC was a one-off—at that point we didn't know it would go monthly. We had a front cover that was designed to showcase the different sides of rap—we had Salt-N-Pepa, Public Enemy, Run-DMC, and British rapper Derek B. Salt-N-Pepa was the main image, because they'd just had a massive hit in the UK with "Push It," which went to No. 2 on the charts off the back of their appearance at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert at Wembley Stadium in London.
The single had been released once and hadn't done that well, but after the concert it was catapulted up the charts. We interviewed them when they were in the UK for the concert. It was very well received, and the sales were very high, prompting the publishers to ask for a second one-off publication to be produced a few months later.
The early front covers were multi-image covers, designed to feature as many different acts as possible. HHC was launched as a teen rap magazine, although it gradually grew older with its readers. We didn't do our own cover shoot for the first issue, and many of the images on the cover were press pictures, although I'm sure the image of Flavor Flav was taken by Normski, who was the best British rap photographer at the time (and who did many of the pictures for the first issue of HHC). In fact, he had his own photo spread on pages 2 and 3 of the issue, featuring informal images taken when he was hanging with many of the biggest stars of hip-hop. I've overseen over 600 front covers as a magazine editor since that first issue of HHC. It's not anywhere near my favorite front cover, but it did its job, selling a lot of copies and helping it get launched as a monthly magazine that ran for 21 years."