First issue date: Summer 1999
On the cover: Funkmaster Flex
Cover line: Is Funkmaster Flex the Most Powerful DJ in the World?
Editor: Lee "Majerz" Harrison
Art direction: Fader Design Squad (Lee Harrison, Joe Buck, Anthony Holland)
Photographer: Jonathan Mannion
The Fader grew out of Cornerstone, a hip-hop promotion company known for their mixtape series. Lee Harrison had the idea for the magazine about DJ culture and all the things that inform it and Cornerstone founders Rob Stone and Jon Cohen gave it the greenlight. That was the easy part.
Jonathan Mannion says: "A friend of mine who was working for Bad Boy at the time was like 'These guys are really good dudes, and they want to start a magazine, but they don't quite know how to go about it.' I hadn't heard of the guys, but on his recommendation, I said 'Let's go for it. Just put me in touch, and I'll deal with it, and I'll walk them through it.' So I spoke to Rob Stone first. He was like, 'We want to do this, we have Funkmaster Flex, but we're trying to figure out how to get from A to B.' And I said, 'Tell me what time you have with him, and I'll do an incredible photo shoot, and then that's the first step. I'm sure you have your other content, but if you need help with that, I'm happy to work you through that, having gone through the magazine systems for years and years before that.' From that point they said, 'Yeah but the thing about it is that for us to meet our deadline it has to be shot tomorrow.' And I said, 'I can do it but the film has to be dropped off right away.' It ended up that Flex's office where I did the shoot was on Fifth Avenue around 28th Street, which was two blocks away from where my film lab was. So I ended up shooting him on the walk from his office to my film lab to be able to drop off the film. I shot him really minimally but with good coverage. And then I shot the actual cover against the wall directly outside of my lab. I was literally shooting a roll and throwing it up to the second floor from the street to get it processed right away and make the deadline, which we did. And so began The Fader magazine. That was the kick off, although most people never saw that issue.
The Three Kings was the second issue, and I think there was a little bit of a lag time. That was the one that most people think of as the first issue of The Fader, because it was the first one that a lot of people saw. They knew that I had come through for them, so they said, 'Now we consider you part of the family, and we have an incredible concept. We have Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, DJ Premier, and Rev. Run. I was like great, I've worked with Primo before a bunch of times. He knows who I am. And I did the Run-DMC album cover for Crown Royal. So he was like, 'Oh, I'm in good hands.' And I had a say in the design of what the thing was. I literally drew out the design of that cover magazine and literally the pages were my exact design, down to the logo being in the center of the cover. They were like, 'Oh well, if we're gonna sell the magazine we've got to put it in the corner so you can see it.' I was like, 'That's what makes it cool, man. It's different. You've gotta take a chance.' So I literally shot and designed that thing."