If any black web hero can be dubbed a “media mogul,” then McClean Greaves is it. The latest project from the founder of Digital Melanin and the now defunct Café Los Negroes is touted as an e-zine for “an urban online community that doesn’t read Jet.” The subscription-based mag, called Negrofile (negrofile.com), hit e-mail inboxes in early March, with a promise from Greaves to make it the “Wired magazine for Afrosomethings.”
Some 5.2 million blacks are milling through cyberspace, according to Greaves, 32. “Our approach has to be proactive. I want to demystify the technology for black people and make it popular.” Negrofile is an effort, he says, to do just that— to discuss technology from the perspective of African Americans.
The original Negrofile appeared in the Toronto-based Word magazine as a column written by Greaves, and soon found its way into the pages of Café Los Negroes as a frequently updated “online diary.”
Negrofile now combs the Web’s underbelly for its black content. Its premier issue chides the NAACP’s misguided efforts to register all the incarnations of the N-word on the Web. Arthur McGee, the 30-year-old Web pioneer who was the first to develop a comprehensive directory of digital resources that focused on African people, serves as guest columnist. He uncovers a slew of sites using variations of the disparaging epitaph.
“[Negrofile] is actually somewhat overdue, but most of the folks involved with critiquing the usual suspects have been too busy to launch something like this before,” say McGee of the fledgling digital mag.
Negrofile also gets inside rap group Public Enemy’s attempt to release an MP3 version of its track “Fight Tha Power,” which was met with a cease and desist warning from its label Def Jam. The e-zine also picks apart the technology behind PE’s release of the track “Swindler’s Lust” in the new MP4 format developed by Global Music— design flaws and all. (The PE single comes phat with an oscilloscope, links, photos, and animation but also leaves unsuspecting Web heads open to Trojan horses.)
Negrofile also targets Web sites owned by white corporations that serve up black content. The e-zine lists the few black proprietorships, like The Black World Today (tbwt.com), NetNoir (netnoir.com), and Greaves’s own Digital Downlow (digitaldownlow.com).
But don’t think for a minute that black Web sites are going to get a free ride. Negrofile takes a swipe at Quincy Jones’s e-commerce music site, Qradio.net, for handing out pink slips to workers in it’s “Chocolate City” office. And Negrofile is sure to gun at black Web sites that leave users waiting too long for a 124k jpeg to download.
To subcribe, visit negrofile.com.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 30, 1999