First issue date: November 2009
On the cover: Jay Z / Tupac
Cover line: Hip-Hop Classics / Paying Tribute to the Greatest Images of Our Culture
Editor: kris ex
Photography director: Sally Berman
Photographer: Jonathan Mannion / Danny Clinch
Respect magazine was the first publication to position hip-hop and its vibrant imagery as art for its own sake. Designed as a journal of hip-hop photography, the premiere issue featured archival pictures of 2Pac taken by Danny Clinch, and of Jay Z taken by Jonathan Mannion, the photographer responsible for a slew of classic hip-hop images including the cover artwork for Reasonable Doubt. According to Sally Berman, Respect's first Photography Director, the mag's debut issue is "a first edition of an Encyclopedia of hip-hop photography." We couldn't agree more.
kris ex says: "The whole purpose of the magazine when it started was to be like this piece of photojournalism. We were not trying to make a magazine in any traditional sense, and we just wanted something that was going to be classic and embody the name of Respect.
The actual photo that we were supposed to use was one of Jay Z in front of a broken Jesus statue that's never been seen. Mannion told the story—they were just driving by in Bedstuy, and they saw it, and Jay got in front of the statue and took a picture real quick. One of those shots was just perfect and classic, but then somebody was like, you know, they're not playing around with the religious imagery on the cover, and we had to take that image off of the cover.
It was always supposed to be this thing, where we were really intent on building the brand. We wanted the brand to be like, 'Yo, that Respect is coming out four times a year, it's gonna be like on some high quality paper, it's gonna be some coffee table book shit that I'm going to subscribe to. I don't care who is on the cover, I just want some really fly shit up in my crib for when the homies come over or when the shorties come over.' We were just trying to create this dope thing and circumvent a lot of what the magazine game was doing and how the magazine game was reacting to the Internet. We were trying to focus on our strengths, which was going to the tangibility, the quality, and the ability to hold something in your hands, flip through, and smell the pages."