Murder Dog magazine may not be counted among the big boys of Hip-Hop publications, but it owns a significant part of the rap mag landscape. The founder of Murder Dog, the mysterious Black Dog Bone, talks about his beginnings in a Sri Lankan jungle, being a punk rocker and starting his underground Hip-Hop magazine.
Journalist Andre Noz interviewed Black Dog Bone for Red Bull Music Academy, diving deep into the background of how Murder Dog sprung from a small Bay Area magazine to one of Hip-Hop’s go-to publications for fans. Amazingly, Murder Dog has existed for 21 years and still maintains a rather low profile compared to its competitors.
Black Dog Bone got his start while as a student at the San Francisco Art Institute. As a photographer and Hip-Hop fan, he sought a way to get next to his favorite artists and decided that a magazine would be the way to achieve this feat. After chance meetings with the Wu-Tang Clan and the Fugees in the early 1990s, a bad check from Black Dog Bone started his enterprise.
From Red Bull Music Academy:
I had heard about this printing company in the Mission, they were the ones who did that punk rock magazine Maximum Rock N Roll and they also printed the Black Panther Party’s newspaper. I didn’t know how to do layout and all that, they were teaching me. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t even type. I had a guy in the Art Institute [who typed for me] and I was hand pasting it. Everything was hand pasted in the first issue.
I did all this stuff and the first magazine went to press, but I didn’t even have any money. It was $2,000 to print it. Not that $2,000 is nothing but to me… I didn’t have it. I wrote him a check and gave it to him and there was no money in the bank. I had like $25 in the bank. So that’s the beginning of Murder Dog – a bad check. This is what we did for 20 years. I had no money, no knowledge of making a magazine, no knowledge of typing, my English was horrible, I was not trained as a reporter. I just did it because I wanted to do it.
Murder Dog gave rise to independent Bay Area artists such as E-40, Dru Down and Mac Dre. The South was also heavily represented with Master P and his No Limit Records family getting a big push. Early Cash Money Records artists also benefited from the magazine that landed into the hands of 10,000 free subscribers monthly, many of whom were prisoners.
The entire interview is a stunning revelation of fame, fortune, and the wisdom of a man who simply just loved something enough to try it out for a spin. The fact that Murder Dog had the success it achieved is astounding, considering Black Dog Bone admittedly said he lacked the business savvy to pull off the business.
Photo: Murder Dog