Soul Underground was a UK-based music magazine covering "underground" black music and dance music, which launched in 1987 and ceased publication in January 1991. The magazine was conceived as a reaction to what co-founders Darren Reynolds and David Lubich saw as the failure of the mainstream music press to cover the growth of an underground dance music scene in the UK. This went beyond the music itself to the fashions, warehouse parties and subcultures that were finding their feet at the time.
From the outset, Soul Underground sought to cover a wide range of music – from the burgeoning "Rare Groove" scene of the late 1980s, though rap, electro, house to reggae and soul. It quickly gained a reputation for its provocative features and news reports, and its interest in writing about music from a historical and even political perspective.
Its perceived credibility among musicians, club and radio DJs and journalists meant that it was able to attract a very strong team of writers and photographers.
The magazine was founded as a fanzine: its first issue had a print run of just 850 copies, and was distributed through record shops. Sales grew quickly, leading to a disagreement between Reynolds and Lubich over the direction the magazine should take (Darren wanted to preserve its ‘fanzine’ ethos, while David believed that it could evolve into a 'proper' magazine without compromising its independence and credibility). Darren left the magazine at issue 7, leaving David as publisher and editor.
As dance music made the move from underground scene to huge commercial success, Soul Underground saw its sales and profile rise. National newsagent distribution followed in late ’89, as did limited distribution through record and clothing stores in New York.
In early 1990, Soul Underground gained a presence in New York – both in terms of sales and editorial coverage. It appointed as New York editor Leonard Abrams, former editor of the East Village Eye, who built a roster of writers and photographers and helped the magazine stay on top of the city's burgeoning hip-hop scene.
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