Latinos at Helm of
8/18/04 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview
XXL and King are two of the
hottest magazines out right now, thanks to Harris
Publications. Well, they've outdone themselves again with
the introduction of a new quarterly mag entitled Scratch,
an inside guide to hip hop production and DJing.
Also noteworthy is the fact that both Scratch's Editor and
Chief, Andre Torres, and Associate Editor, Jesus Triviño,
are Latinos. Jesus Triviño, a writer who has contributed
to a variety of Urban magazines and e-zines, also serves
as a musical editor for the new publication.
Triviño took time out of his busy afternoon at the Scratch
office to speak with LR and shed some light on the new
LatinRapper.com: For those readers who haven't picked up a
copy of Scratch yet, what can they expect from the mag?
Well, they can expect it's a music magazine that actually is
about music, you have all these other mags that claim to be
music magazines, but its about the artist. We give you an in
depth look at not only opinions but its behind the scenes.
What I've been telling everyone is that we are the KRS-Ones of
the hip hop magazines, we're the teachers and we're here to
inform on how to make rap music. Like the tagline says, "the
science of hip hop".
With so many hip hop mags that already cover producing and
DJing, what motivated Harris to dedicate an entire mag just to
those aspects of music, and why now?
Before everyone wanted to be an MC, now any kid can buy a
piece of equipment and be a producer. Now people see producers
like Kanye and Dre, they can be a producer but also a
celebrity. I don't think there is a magazine out there that
covers hip hop producers and DJs, you got other DJ magazines
but they cover house music and techno. They have a dash of hip
hop in there but its not truly written from that perspective.
Vibe, Source, they cover how the producers came up and their
background, but we talk about how they create their music as
well. With the emergence of superproducers like Kanye and Just
Blaze... and the DJs of course with the mixtape scene being so
big right now, artists getting signed from mixtapes like 50.
Even though the FCC has clamped down on it, it makes it seem
like that's the way to get signed. As an aspiring artist you
cant go up to a label and get signed like that, the A&R's
listen to the mixtapes, the DJs hold a lot of power in the
How do you think Scratch will differ from existing
magazines that are related to beatmaking and turntablism of
I don't see any other mag really covering hip hop producers,
everything in our book is Hip Hop.
As one of Scratch's editors, you've earned your stripes,
how long have you been involved with Harris mags?
I've been writing for King and Rides for maybe a year, and XXL,
I've never written for until I got here. I've written more for
Vibe and the Source before I got here.
What are some of the other publications that you've
contributed to in the past?
Vibe, the Source, King, Ride, XXL, and I've also written for
SOHH.com, people.com, and allhiphop.com. And I guess I've been
writing since I was 19, at least professionally.
What were some of your more memorable writing assignments
The most memorable had to be when I interviewed Willie Colon,
not just because I grew up on his music, but he's mad relaxed,
mad open. It was actually funny because it was towards the end
of my internship at Vibe, and I needed to pitch a story idea.
Until then they had just given me little things to write up,
this was my first one-pager. So I pitched it to my editor, his
name is Hyun, I pitched him Ruben Blades, Celia Cruz, Willie
Colon. They picked Willie, I met with him at a restaurant and
talked to him for 3 hours. His music was sociopolitical,
everything going on with the Latin community, I've been quite
informed about it. I try to stay with what's going on in the
Latin community, I still live there. We talked about how Hip
Hop changed liked his music has.
Another was a chance meeting, we met Jay-Z and hung out from
an assignment with the Source. We met outside Bassline for
about an hour, we just hung out, he was like a regular
Brooklyn cat. Four people including myself and him, it was
cool. That was it besides the whole spat with Nas when I
quoted him as saying that he looked up to Hitler. Kind of a
good memory and bad memory, it showed me that rappers aren't
supposed to be your friends. I happen to be objective. I can't
stand that groupie sh*t, 'cause at the end of the day you're
just a dude that could have been on my block.
Latinos are the largest minority in the U.S., but there
doesn't seem to be too many Latino editors at most Urban
magazines. Have you ever felt that Latinos are under
represented in hip hop mags with respect to contributing staff
Until recently its gotten a lot better, you got two Latinas at
Vibe and the Source. That's the one thing about urban
journalism I gotta give it, its really diverse. I saw Asians,
Latinos, Blacks, its all united in urban journalism. There are
Latinos in the top positions, but as far as writers I think
there aren't a lot of contributors. Newspapers at big
metropolitan cities, they don't have one single Latino, that's
horrible. I'm also part of NAHJ, National Association of
Hispanic Journalists, they keep us up on that. Magazines like
Rolling Stone, they do tend to be purely staffed by whites. I
saw it first hand, besides the mail room there was no color.
But Harris, you see every kind of race and culture, I love
working here and that's the one thing they have a good
reputation about doing. But were getting there, still long
ways to go. I'm first generation, I was born here, a lot of us
are just coming into our own. I grew up with hip hop, but some
are just discovering it.
Were there any writers that you looked up to when you first
One guy, I was inspired more that he was in a high position,
Carlitos Rodriguez at the Source. I remember reading his story
"Vamos a Rapear", I remember it having an impact on me that I
can actually do this. I was more inspired by people like Jose
Marti, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And as far as hip hop
journalism, when I was growing up I didn't look at the bylines
too much, but now I look. Before I just read the article until
I went to college for my journalism degree to see how they
wrote. Journalism is about reading and adapting the style into
your own style, like a gumbo.
Have you considered the possibility of starting your own
magazine in the future?
That was a plan when I was a kid, I don't know about now.
Right now I'm in a good position because of Scratch, but also
because they want to do a Latin mag. They are giving me the
chance as a founding editor, Scratch is making a lot of noise.
It's giving me an outlet to be creative, I don't know, maybe
down the line, but I do feel like being part of something
Harris Publications is doing a Latin mag?
It's like a Latin version of Esquire. I don't want to put out
so many details, but you're gonna be hearing about it before
the end of the year. All I gotta says is, its gonna be hot.
You know, we need this.
I'm sure a few readers are interested in the possibility of
becoming a magazine contributor in the future, what tips could
you offer them on how to get started?
The only thing I can say is like I got in, start early. I was
coming from Brooklyn college which was a city school, knowing
l had to compete with guys from Harvard and NYU, I knew I had
to bust my butt. I did four internships, taking advice from my
elders, always returning emails and calls because you never
know when you might need that person. That's for journalists,
publicists, anything. Once you do get good with an editor,
drop him an email, drop him a call, even if you don't have an
idea. Never underestimate how lazy an editor is, if you keep
dropping by you might get a story. Editors, whoever is in
front of them, they will give them the story, as long as they
are there. I used to call all these editors to say what's up,
just to b.s.
And always meet your deadlines, that another big thing.
There's not a lot of good writers out there, if you are a
superb writer, they will work with you, if not don't run the
risk. And also when you do talk for the first time to an
editor, or email them, have a couple of ideas with you, be
aware of what magazine you're pitching to.