Of all the hip hop magazines to emerge in the '90s, none was more potent than Murder Dog. Where more visible publications like The Source and XXL took an East Coast and industry-centric survey of the genre, Murder Dog built their rap world around smaller market street rap scenes from all over the country. The interviews were unedited and sprawling, frequently bleeding past the page's margins. The photography was equally - and sometimes disturbingly - raw, with covers that frequently depicted artists throwing up gang signs or wielding handguns.
This sort of localized and unfiltered focus would prove prescient. By the turn of the century New York's grip on hip hop had begun to loosen and all of these micro-scenes flooded the market. Most of the once-independent rap artists and labels to ride this wave to stardom - E-40, Three 6 Mafia, No Limit, Cash Money, Tech N9ne, Insane Clown Posse - had already seen their earliest pre-fame press in the pages of Murder Dog. (Perhaps more fascinatingly though, the magazine's 21 year run also stands as the only lasting documentation of hundreds of local stars who never managed to crossover.)