10 years isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things, but it’s long enough for an idea to take root and blossom. When Complex launched in 2002, our aim was to fill a void in the publishing world, which was still clinging to antiquated notions of youth culture as figuratively, and literally, black and white.

What we saw was a new cultural landscape in which the biggest rapper was white, the best golfer was black, and skaters of every ethnic background listened to rap. We wanted to give a voice to those not-so-easily classified people in music, visual arts, fashion, technology, sports, video games, movies, and television who were taking part in this revolution. We decided to put the cool up front, because there’s no color on cool.

At the time, many people weren’t ready to think outside of the box, to embrace the complexity of culture. But hip-hop and street style have always been more multidimensional than the gatekeepers would allow. They couldn’t fathom that a man would want both hip-hop and Hollywood fashion—but our readers got it right away. That’s why we’re still here, and still having fun. The best part is that we’re not just a business, we’re also a vehicle to validate other creative businesses and thought leaders inspired by the entrepreneurial virus that makes hip-hop so much more than music. We understand that 24/7, dollar and a dream, hustle hard mind-set, because it’s our mind-set, too. Today Complex is recognized as the curatorial platform for real American culture.

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, consider me flattered by the countless magazines and men’s buyer’s guides that have popped up since, diversifying their content and even printing dual flip covers. But the greatest pleasure for me is when the people we feature, who’ve grown from start-ups to powerhouses in their fields, thank me because Complex is the lens that best reflects their view of the world—and gave them a platform to reach the world.  In 10 short years, many walls have toppled. Join us as we knock down some more and explore the endless possibilities.


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