"Members Only"

The power of an email address.

"Members Only"
Photo from an old, long-lost hard drive, circa some time in the late 2010's when Super Empty first started: Marcus, Mikey, and Leroy.

The 2024 reboot of Super Empty (not to be mistaken with the 2018 or 2021 reboots of Super Empty) has the same intention as ever, but with some clear differences. For one, we're doing it for real this time. Beyond that, we're on a new platform (Ghost.io), we're paying a rotation of contributors, we're focusing more on fewer, longer pieces and less on short blurbs and weekly recaps, we're not doing a podcast, and we're using the royal "we" even though this is a project by one person.

But one difference, at least in my mind, looms larger than most — in coming weeks, when clicking around the SE site and opening articles, you'll find that for non-members (or members who aren't logged in), only brief previews of our pieces will be available.

Yes, as foolish as it may turn out to be, we're experimenting for the first time with making full articles only available to email subscribers to Super Empty (whether free or paid).

You may wonder, understandably, where in the hell we get off asking for your email address — not to read the New York Times or The Washington Post, but just to read an essay on a tiny, regional rap blog. You may wonder if it's possible to speak to a manager. You may feel stung because once upon a time you gave your email to the Democratic Party and it's now clear that no matter how hard you resist, you'll be receiving emails from the DNC until the day you die¹ (and even after you're dead, probably). These are all understandable reactions. For now, I'll stick to addressing the first.

An email address does two main things, the first of which you've likely heard before:

  • Helps make sure you see our work. In an information landscape dominated by the ever-changing whims (a.k.a. algorithms) of a few monopoly platforms (and their temperamental billionaire owners), there's only one truly reliable avenue for regularly getting our work in front of you: email. Super Empty's motto — Hip-Hop Writing Worth Reading, From NC — isn't a throwaway line. The goal is to only publish writing that is worth the time it takes you to read it, which requires serious effort, time and money to deliver on. With that in mind, it would be quite a shame if no one got the chance to see the end result. By signing up as a member (even at the Free tier), you're helping ensure our posts find an audience, and ultimately, helping to make our mission come true.
  • Gives us a chance to make you a Reader ($20/yr) or Partner ($100/yr). That may sound nakedly transactional or forward, but the reality is, writing and artwork aren't powered by smiles and sunshine. Not every reader needs to be a paid subscriber to make the numbers of Super Empty work, but over time, a sizable, core group of paid readers will be necessary to keep this party going all night long, and keep it free for all to read. As a free subscriber, you'll regularly have an email of high-quality hip-hop dropped into your inbox — and each time, we'll have an opportunity to convince you that the work we're doing is worth paying for, especially at the friendly price of $1.99 (the monthly Reader tier).

The goal isn't to be exclusive, and it isn't to vacuum up emails so we can sell you webinar courses on passive income or "becoming a real estate mogul using other peoples' money" (that sounds great, though). The goal is to share a love of North Carolina, of hip-hop, and of great writing, with as many people as possible — and carve out a successful little media operation while doing it.

I hope that makes sense. I hope it isn't the wrong move (but also if it is, well, the stakes could not be lower). I hope you'll hop aboard.

All it takes is an email.

¹ Oh, that's just me?