First issue date: September 1992
On the cover: Treach
Cover line: Is Treach Naughty By Nature—Or Nurture?
Editor: Jonathan Van Meter
Art director: Gary Koepke
Photographer: Albert Watson
VIBE magazine was the brainchild of legendary music producer Quincy Jones who convinced his friend Steve Ross that hip-hop and related forms of black music and culture deserved to have a professionally run magazine to document its stars the way Rolling Stone did for rock and mainstream entertainment. Ross green-lit the project, and VIBE launched in 1992 with backing from Time Inc. Ventures—the same section of the publishing company responsible for titles like Martha Stewart Living—with a striking image of Treach, front man of the New Jersey trio Naughty By Nature. The test issue sold so well that a year later VIBE went into production as a nationally distributed monthly.
Former Features Editor Rob Kenner says: "At the time we shot that Treach cover, it was still somewhat unusual for rappers to be photographed with their shirts off. Years later Treach told us that the cover made him a sex symbol, and that he was expected to take his shirt off at every live show. Albert Watson lit him to look 'like a piece of African sculpture.' The magazine was all set to go to press when at the last minute they had to change the name from Volume because of a trademark issue. Scott Poulson-Bryant came up with the new name, which was much better, and Gary Koepke freaked the redesign over a weekend. The mag hung around for 19 years or so until going all digital."