Mariah Carey: “How Can I Be Down?”
In 1998, after working with founder Claude Grunitzky for half the year as his US Editor, I convinced the young publisher that we should re-launch Trace, his uber-cool, fashion forward entertainment zine that I had taken on my shoulders, in the United States.
I wanted Trace to do for our culture what – perhaps too aspirationally – I always wanted Vibe to do, and that was to simply be great, to advance the words and images and thoughts that were being used to document hip-hop and beauty and pop culture in a way that no domestic magazine was even attempting to.
For me, it was to faithfully represent the overwhelming talent of the entertainers and stars I was being turned on by every day, and to pull it off I surrounded myself with a phenomenal fraternity of photographers and writers and stylists who joined me in a passion for this type of coverage.
This cover of Mariah asking “How Can I Be Down?” was a play on the quite dramatic music and lifestyle shift she was making into hip-hop. The first video for Dreamlover had her sitting on rapper Mase’s lap in a helicopter, living the bling life with her breasts out. It was a big departure from the country girl swinging and singing her tune from under a lemon tree and this cover wanted to amplify the cultural commentary.
It was our first issue that was distributed in the US, was one of my favorite cover lines I ever wrote (just slightly ahead of “Once You Go Black…” for GIANT’s Robin Thicke!), and continued my hot streak of delivering mega-artists to the cover of my tiny little mag…