#38. Jay-Z (Stress, 1996)

Issue: Summer 1996
Art Direction: Daniel Hastings
Photography: Cartel

On the heels of Reasonable Doubt, Stress was the first magazine to bless Jigga with the cover treatment. Rumor had it that in keeping with their buy-our-way-into-the-rap-game ethos Jay and Dame actually offered to pay for the printing of the issue in order to secure the cover (to be fair to Stress, regardless of whether or not this was true, it was not uncommon in the '90s for labels to contribute financially to the execution of stories on their artists in indie hip-hop mags). The coverline—"keeping rap dollars in rap pockets"—proved prophetic as he would become rap's most visible entrepreneur.