Raymond Roker is the founder of URB Magazine.
Raymond Leon Roker is the embodiment of the American visionary, a human fire doused with the fuel of Afro–Caribbean and European heritage. He represents the fission in pop that creates bombs: Growing up amid the street tribes of Los Angeles under the guidance of his single mother, a school teacher, Roker constantly embraced what appeared to most as common disparities: black versus white, techno versus rap, the streets versus school, art versus tagging. Roker wrapped his arms around these apparent contradictions and helped create an ideal of cultural acceptance and unity within the 1990´s postmodern youth movement, bolstering through the various manifestations of his art ––– the music, design, fashion and ideals of the 1990´s. After a few years of designing graphics for record store ads, making party fliers and doing fun art/crime with a spray can, Roker decided in May of 1990 [with then partner Mark Bankins] to put his passion for hip–hop, rave culture and future graphics between the pages of a small newsprint zine he called URB [Read: Urban], dedicated, from day one, to "future music culture" in other words, hip–hop [the roots of the urban underground] and DJ culture in the historical and global sense. Roker was only 22, but his apartment–based publication became the lightning rod for a zeitgeist of beat culture, a place where the guitar was buried like a hatchet and the turntable was worshipped. Roker mixed coverage of hip–hop, rave and street fashion with spaced out digital designs that won him international recognition from luminary art watchers such as Print, The American Institute of Graphic Arts, and the Smithsonian Institution. Through the early years of URB, Roker was protective of L.A.´ dance–till–dawn underground, fending off mainstream attempts to marginalize, demonize and profit from electronic music and its psychoactive followers. As URB grew to become America´s biggest, most influential and most respected e–culture magazine, however, Roker found himself editorializing about the need for scenesters themselves to seek unity and recognize the common, urban history the binds the hip–hop and rave scenes. In the last few years the hip–hop rave connection has come into its´ own, breaking down the barriers that URB has always professed didn´t exist. Techno, house and hip–hop all sprouted from inner–city lives; their creators were often black; their audiences were always mixed. When break beat techno reemerged in a big way in 1994 as "drum–and–bass," hyper–speed hip–hop snares rat–a–tatted above Caribbean bass lines while atmospheric synths soared above as an MC growled, "Yes, yes, this is the new sound––underground," it didn´t take much more to get Roker back on the turntables. In 1997 he started the West Coast´s first weekly drum–and–bass night, Science, at The Pink in Santa Monica, Calif. Science has attracted the genre´s finest talent, from Goldie to A Guy Called Gerald, from Photek to Peshay. Roker refined his DJ sets and developed his own unique style, selecting moody, emotional tech–style jungle with MC Question Mark providing the play–by–play. To build upon this weekly showdown, Raymond Roker released his first official jungle mix CD, Altered States of Drum & Bass Vol. 1 on Om Records. With tracks from DJ Abstract, DJ Hype, Jonny L, Psion of Audio Blueprint, Dom & Roland, Source Direct, Breakbeat Era [Roni Size, DJ Die and Leonie Laws] and Pish Posh among others. Roker comments on Altered States, "I have always been attracted to the larger–than–life soundscapes of big metallic beats contrasting with a moody sci–fi swamp of tones and noise records that build a sound that envelops, attacks and disorients... a mean, sexy groove that jacks you."
read moreread less