January 25, 2017

New Local Hip Hop Zine Aims to Chronicle and Connect

Photo Credit: Rusty Holcomb

Volumes editor Sam Lipkin browses records downtown.

In an arts movement where tribalism often reigns supreme, a new publication aims to bring the street to the page, and with it, bring together local hip hop’s factions. Dropping Jan. 28, the Volumes arts and culture zine emphasizes unity, from its assembly all the way down to its message and style.

While Sam Lipkin, a UGA alumna and former Red & Black writer, acts as Volumes’ editor-in-chief, “all of the articles are a group effort,” she says. “There’s not one voice, but multiple voices.” Thus, you might find two contrasting reviews of a new album presented side by side, as if battling, or many perspectives woven together into a collective response.

Volumes also blends the established, institutional tone of print with the elegance and energy of hip-hop language. “I want it to reflect hip hop as a culture as much as possible, and so I want the publication to read like they’re speaking,” says Lipkin.

Lipkin and her contributors wrestle with what works and what’s wack in terms of dialect representation, and though at times it is difficult to mix, this multi-voice approach is also an asset, endowing Volumes with a relaxed readability for those immersed in the culture while also catering to readers interested in simply dipping their toes in.

“I’ve never written about hip hop before,” Lipkin confesses, “but I find it an advantage. I can put things in an outsider perspective, for that person who goes to the shows who might not be a musician.” For the scene veterans, her squad of contributors includes lyricist Kevin Boyd of Space Dungeon, longtime hip-hop promoter Montu Miller and producer Trevor Wiggins of Y.O.D, among others.

Volumes captures not just how the hip-hop community speaks, but where and how it gathers. In addition to local artwork, album reviews and interviews, the zine contains event reviews that capture the vibe of affairs like The World Famous’ First Tuesday series, and, in doing so, invites potential attendees into that world.

Not every narrative has a place in Volumes, though. With its bottom-up focus on unity, the zine privileges artists with socially responsible messages. “You don’t wanna promote gangster rap if a bunch of shootings have been taking place,” Lipkin explains.

Released on the final Friday of every month, Volumes will include an event calendar detailing the coming month’s hip-hop offerings. The fledgling gazette will also boast a networking directory that aims to connect artists with venues and other artists. It’s a large part of why Lipkin calls Volumes a “hip-hop cheat sheet” for those looking to expand their art.

In the networking directory, rappers and producers can find videographers to craft their visuals; photographers hoping to build their portfolios can connect with MCs and dancers for shoots. “Networking can be a really daunting thing, especially for people who are new,” says Lipkin. “With this, it’s right there in front of you.”

Assembling Volumes has taken a village, and when the first issue hits streets Saturday, its distribution will be largely the same. Copies will be available at various Jittery Joe’s locations, but the team’s chief strategy will be to put them in people’s hands themselves at events downtown. It remains unclear how many people of color, who are often skeptical of downtown, will get the new publication in their hands. As the zine grows, however, Lipkin hopes to also make it available at other businesses and online.

The basics are in place, though, and the project has been met with elation by hip-hop heads already. “When I tell them what I’m doing… their faces light up,” says Lipkin. “They say, ‘Wow, you’re doing this? We need this!’”

Cop the first issue of Volumes at the Caledonia Lounge on Saturday, Jan. 28, where The Norm, Little Stranger and Y.O.D will also perform.