Syreeta Gates Chronicles Hip Hop Journalism History in ‘Write On!’

By Sameer Rao Feb 12, 2018

Publications like The Source, XXL, Vibe and Honey grew out of a need to cover and preserve the growth of hip hop music and culture. Syreeta Gates, a digital archivist and former creative director for Travel Noire, explores the mark that hip hop journalists left on the artform in her upcoming documentary, "Write On! The Legend of Hip-Hop’s Ink Slingers." Gates launched a Kickstarter campaign to support the documentary on Friday (February 9). 

Gates wrote on the campaign page that the film "tells the stories of overlooked commentators—brilliant narrators that set the bar for what is now popular culture." Her Kickstarter promotional video features many of these journalists, including Honey co-founder Kierna Mayo, former The Source editor-in-chief James Bernard and Colorlines’ editorial director Akiba Solomon, who was a senior editor at The Source.

"Many of the writers featured have moved on from hip hop print magazines," Gates wrote in the description. "Yet, they created a whole new space to participate in hip hop, giving people outside of the culture insight into the richness, viability and power therein. They paved the way for hip hop in academia and beyond! It is time to honor them, by paying homage and gratitude."

A 2015 article from Shoppe Black notes that Gates had worked on this documentary for several years under the title, "Word Is Bond." She noted in the campaign video that she started documenting hip hop journalism history after finding little information about, or articles from, these writers in Google searches. She then started collecting the magazine issues, album liner notes and other written works to keep track of these journalists’ impact on the culture. "Write On!" grew out of that motivation to preserve the history and let the writers tell their own stories. 

The campaign has raised almost $6,400 towards its $30,000 goal as of press time, and is set to close on March 9. Learn more at