Julia Beverly of Ozone: Makin’ It Hot

In real life, the ozone layer above the Earth’s surface is depleting at a rate so fast scientists agonize that the gradual rise in temperature will eventually upset the planet’s natural processes. Conversely, Ozone magazine appears to be building at such a rate that it appears on pace to upset Hip-Hop’s long-standing order. Through the […]

In real life, the ozone layer above the Earth’s surface is depleting at a rate so fast scientists agonize that the gradual rise in temperature will eventually upset the planet’s natural processes. Conversely, Ozone magazine appears to be building at such a rate that it appears on pace to upset Hip-Hop’s long-standing order.

Through the growth, Ozone has found a fan base that is greeted with frank commentary, groupie confessions, exclusive interviews and has placed a megaphone in front of the Southern states. The publication’s founder, Julia Beverly, has found herself embroiled in a number of high-profile situations, most notably with Ray “Benzino” Scott of The Source Magazine. The Orlando, Florida native insists that she’s not seeking the controversy that surrounds Ozone, but admits she isn’t foolish enough to shun the publicity either. Metaphorically she may be the opposite of the ozone layer, but Ozone magazine has still managed to make it hot for the competition.

Here, Julia Beverly of Ozone magazine kicks it about beef, controversy, groupies and being David to the industry’s goliath.

AllHipHop.com: So basically, can you tell people that may not know what Ozone is all about?

Julia Beverly: Well, Ozone is basically a Dirty South rap magazine. It’s kind of the Southern equivalent of a XXL or The Source. I feel like we just bring a different perspective to the game.

AllHipHop.com: What made you start the magazine?

Julia Beverly: Well, originally, I was an amateur photographer and I was trying to get into photography. The magazine was actually kind of a way for me to showcase my photography and develop my skill. I started getting into the Hip-Hop scene in Florida, based in Orlando and I started to travel and when I started to see how there was like a bubbling scene in Orlando, then there was a bubbling scene in Tampa and Tallahassee and Jacksonville, but everybody was kinda like disconnected from each other. We’re so spread out that we kind of needed that outlet and we weren’t really getting it from The Source or XXL because they weren’t there in the South. You know, like they’ll write about somebody once they get hot to certain level, but they weren’t really there on the underground scene.

AllHipHop.com: What’s your approach?

Julia Beverly: Well, me personally, I’m a very competitive kind of person. Like anything that I do, I’m trying to be number one. I watch what happened with the The Source. I look at the game and basically XXL is probably the number one Hip-Hop magazine, so I throw a little snide comments at them in my editorials and stuff that I’m shooting for the top; I’m coming to the top. At the same time, I feel like there’s room for everybody because you know, everybody has their own niche. We’re just going through a growth process because we’ve actually been out for almost four years, but when we started out, we were very small. And we just grew gradually.

AllHipHop.com: What’s your circulation right now?

Julia Beverly: Right now, we’re at 75,000.

AllHipHop.com: Right. Your name seems always to be associated with controversy. Was it planned that way?

Julia Beverly: It’s not really planned. I mean, I agree with you. I always just seem to be in the middle of something, but I don’t really plan it that way. I really just say what’s on my mind. A lot of times people say, “Oh, it’s for publicity, you got [something] about the drop.” Of course I want people to talk about the magazine, because then they’re gonna check for it. Now, I think one important thing to mention is that most of the controversy comes from my editorials every month, which is a very short column where I just say my opinion.

AllHipHop.com: The situation with Benzino is probably the biggest one…

Julia Beverly: If I could plan something that would put my name all over Hot 97, don’t you think I would have done it a long time ago? I’ve been watching what’s been going on with The Source for a long time. With the Benzino thing, you know, I just wrote about some things that I didn’t like about The Source, the way that I’ve seen things recently. Honestly, like when I was coming up, I kind of looked up to Dave Mays – a white guy that had a successful Hip-Hop business. I’m a white female; I’m trying to come in the game, trying to start a magazine. I met Dave a couple times. [At the time,] I had a little magazine, wasn’t that impressive. I told him, “Hey, you know I want to come work for you guys, what’s up?” And he just kinda blew me off.

So, I got a call like a couple weeks after [print date] from this 917 number, and I picked up, and this guy’s like, “Yeah, this is Dave Mays. F**k you, f**kin’ b*tch. F**k. F**k.” Like, that’s all he kept saying over and over and I’m confused because I’m thinking what is he talking about. And you know, he just kept screaming and I hung up on him. And then I remembered [my editorial]. So, he called me back. I hung up on him. Then ‘Zino called me back after that, and started making all these threats.

About three, four days later, I come in the office and they had left a – two voicemails. Benzino had left two voicemails on my office voicemail, so you know, I just recorded it to send it to some DJ’s. I sent it out to the DJ friend of mine and he forwarded it somebody who forwarded it to somebody else and so the next thing I know like three, four hours later, I’m on this conference call with you know, Benzino and Funk Master Flex and pretty much the whole industry. Funk Master Flex had hit me up and said, “Hey, I heard that you know, you have some information on Benzino or whatever, you want to put me on the air?” So, then I started gettin’ calls from the New York Daily News and you know, it was in the New York Times. It was just crazy to me. Once I saw what was happening, you know, I just figured I’d just sit back and enjoy the ride and milk it for the publicity that I could get out of it.

AllHipHop.com: We asked him the same question – we’ll ask you, too. In hindsight, would you have done anything differently?

Julia Beverly: No. Probably not. I said what was on my mind. You know, I put in too much work and too much money and too much effort every month to put out a magazine for me to censor myself.

AllHipHop.com: Are you concerned with the threats, or your safety?

Julia Beverly: I think – man, how do I want to answer this? Give me a minute on that one. I mean, I’m not scared because I don’t feel like I did anything wrong. Like I think that – I think, you know I believe in Karma and all that. I think if you do the right thing and are just true to yourself and you know, I think that you don’t have anything to worry about.

AllHipHop.com: Did you ever consider pressing charges or anything?

Julia Beverly: Yeah. I mean a couple people mentioned it to me. At the time, [Dave and Ray] were still at The Source. I didn’t want to press charges, and give them paperwork and give them an opportunity to print something and twist it and say, “Oh, she’s cooperating with the authorities, or she’s a snitch or she’s that, this or that.” And you know, at the end of the day, I don’t think it would have really made a difference. I mean, if he’s going to do something, he’s going to do it regardless of whether there’s you know, a restraining order against him or not. I could easily have gotten a restraining order. I have recordings of him threatening me basically on my voicemail, then on the conference call, which he also knew we were being recorded. He’s on AllHipHop, threatening me – you know, in your guys’ interview, so I could easily do that, but, you know, again, I just do what I do and no, I’m not really worried about it, you know. I just don’t understand why he feels the need to threaten a female with physical violence. I’m 125 pounds; I’m a white female. So, it’s not really gangsta to be like, “Yeah, I beat up that White b***h.” I mean, isn’t it?

AllHipHop.com: Now, did the term ‘s### monkey’ ever strike a nerve?

Julia Beverly: No, I thought it was hilarious, actually. I still laugh you know, whenever I hear that recording. I was doing drops for DJ’s saying, “This is Daisy the s### monkey.” I kinda have a sense of humor about everything.

AllHipHop.com: Now, Jeremy Miller is taking on The Source now, but before that, he also has Down magazine. Do you feel that they will be coming an increased threat to your brand going forward?

Julia Beverly: No. I really haven’t heard anything about them. I mean, I’m in the streets enough to know what people are talking about. I’m at industry events enough to know what the industry is talking about. I mean, Jeremy, like I don’t have any personal issues with Jeremy. He seems like a good guy, but I wasn’t impressed with the one issue that I saw. And you know, I don’t really see anybody as being a threat to Ozone Magazine, right now.

AllHipHop.com: The most notorious section of the magazine is “Groupie Confessions.” What spawned that?

Julia Beverly: Most of the groupie confessions, to be honest, are like friend of a friend of a friend kinda thing. Like, “Hey, I heard my home girl such and such and such.” There’s a reason I do all the interviews on the phone. Like, a lot of times people email me stories and I don’t print them because I feel like I need to talk to them to kind of get a feel for if they’re legit or not. You know, I’ve gotten emails like, “Oh, this guy is just – he’s so small and he’s terrible,” and it just sounds like they’re just trying to put him out there. They’re just trying to hate on him or whatever.

When you look at the Hip-Hop game, everything is – because it’s so heavily male, everything is from a male perspective, especially when you talk about sex. You know, the videos are always going in there with their a#### jiggling, you know, rappers talk about sex in their songs. And you know what’s funny is, like none of the girls will describe themselves as groupies. It just happened to blow up one year because we had Jay-Z in there, and the New York paper picked up on it and you know, it was all over New York. I mean, if you want get publicity in New York, just talk about Jay-Z’s d*ck, I guess.

AllHipHop.com: Does if affect the relationships? With rappers?

Julia Beverly: It hasn’t. I mean, there’s maybe three rappers I can think of that actually confronted me about it. I just told them straight up, “The girl called in and I interviewed her, and it sounded like it was legitimate, so I printed it.” We managed to smooth it over or whatever. It hasn’t been anything too serious.

AllHipHop.com: Now you seem to have really good relationships with, especially artists down South, do you ever, you know, I don’t know, does that ever interfere with you doing your job?

Julia Beverly: To a certain extent, I understand what you’re saying, but I think it helps more than it hurts. I have a lot more access to artists than any other publication. Like when you look at The Source or XXL or Vibe, – they’re very corporate companies in the sense that they have employees that come in from eight-to-five, and then they go home kind of thing. To me, it’s 24/7 and 50 percent of the time, we’re on the road. So the artists just started to see me so much. They would be like they see me in Miami one day, and then they see me in Houston the next day, and then in New York the next week or whatever.

AllHipHop.com: Okay. Do you feel ever overwhelmed? ‘Cause I know you do most of the book yourself…

Julia Beverly: I feel overwhelmed 90 percent of the time. But I think I perform better under pressure. If I don’t have a deadline, then I’ll get lazy. It’s good for me because it keeps me on my toes and when we were starting out, I did pretty much do everything for the first couple years, as far as photos and interviews and the layout and the ad sales and that wasn’t really by choice; that was more because of lack of funding. But, it really turned out to be a good thing because it helped me to learn every aspect and now that we’re growing and that we have a little more of a budget, you know, we actually have a staff now – a small staff, that I’ve been delegating a lot more responsibilities to other people. I just finish the issue and try to take a couple days to just relax and get back into the swing of things.

AllHipHop.com: What’s the next big step?

Julia Beverly: We’re working on putting together an award show, actually. I’m definitely looking to branch out into other things and other forms of media, I guess.

AllHipHop.com: Are you going to leave Orlando?

Julia Beverly: That’s a good question. I don’t know. We’re still opening our office in Atlanta, where we still have the office in Orlando, and we’re going to see how that goes.