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Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Brothers’ Magazine Firm Grows

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that a writer’s first obligation was to write for his generation. If that’s the case then budding publishing entrepreneurs Devin and Cameron Lazerine are on the right track. At just 21 and 20 years old, respectively, they have seen stunning success at a young age, building their fledgling quarterly magazine Rap-Up, into an 80,000 circulation hip-hop publication specifically designed and catering to Generation Y. Maintaining full responsibility for ad sales, financial management, editorial content and even writing many of the articles in Rap-Up, the Lazerines have gotten the magazine into retailers such as Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Borders and Tower Records, as well as 20 countries worldwide. “Our goal is to make sure ad revenue covers our costs every issue,” Cameron Lazerine, Rap-Up’s publisher and assistant editor, said. A University of California, Berkeley, business major, Cameron Lazerine is also in charge of printing, production, distribution and shipping. “Every issue has raised more money than the previous one,” Devin Lazerine said. “The fall issue is going really well thus far. We’re happy about getting a lot of big-name advertisers such as Sony and Vivendi Universal.” Devin Lazerine, currently a communications major at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the magazine’s founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief. It was the elder Lazerine who first conceived the idea of creating a magazine in the hip-hop medium, when at the age of 15, the former Calabasas High School student created a website called Rap-Up, which chronicled hip-hop news, gossip and music top-10 lists. While still in their mid-teens, the brothers tried to turn the website into a print magazine, blindly writing letters and e-mails to every publisher that they could reach. H & S; Media took a chance on them, publishing one issue in 2001, before the company was sold off. It was also resurrected in 2003 as an insert in the magazine Urban Teen Scene. But the brothers’ most recent incarnation of the magazine seems to have the most legs, and the brothers have found a great deal of artistic freedom by publishing independently. “We knew that if we were going to do it independently, we would need to raise X number of dollars from ads, which was tough because we only had the old H & S; media issue,” Devin Lazerine said. “But we got enough money to put out the spring issue and we’re talking with advertisers for the next issue and the next year. Some of the other seed money came from our savings, and the rest from our parents. We used the money from the advertisers to reimburse them.” Though the magazine has not yet been audited, the brothers maintain that it has broken even in terms of ad sales for the first two issues. Due to the usual lag time in receiving funds from newsstand and retail sales, the brothers have yet to see any profits pour into the Calabasas home office that they maintain to cut costs. As they gear up to roll out issue number three, which is slated to drop on October 4, the brothers appear to have a promising future ahead of them. Lou Pitt, a manager and producer of film and television with the Beverly Hills-based Pitt Group, spoke highly of the Lazerines’ potential. “These are very bright young kids and there’s nothing that’s going to stop them from creating a significant publishing business,” Lou Pitt said. “They’ve got many ideas for future magazines, and they’re approaching it in a very logical way, I think they’ll be immensely successful.” According to the brothers, Rap-Up is just the beginning of their dreams, as they want to create a publishing empire with magazines spanning across all genres. And in the more near future, they hope to take it to being a monthly or bi-monthly, as soon as they graduate college. Surprisingly self-effacing, each brother quickly praised the other for contributing to the magazine’s success. “When you have someone who’s your business partner and your brother you feel this trust that you wouldn’t have with anyone else,” Devin Lazerine said. “If I have problems with anything, I don’t have a problem holding back,” Cameron Lazerine said. “I can call him at 3 a.m. and discuss anything. 9-5 isn’t a regular schedule for us, it’s every hour, any day of the week, and we share the same vision.”

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