Being the mouthpiece for a generation of urban youth is an audacious task that The Plug Magazine has taken with stride. Led by Mercia Tucker, the flagship online magazine has solidified itself as one of the most trusted voices on urban culture, music and fashion.
Over the years, as the internet continued to become a staple for most millennials, the 2010s ushered in what would be known as the blog era. This era was preceded by the phenomenon that saw communities of like-minded people with similar interests and music tastes mainly, finding refuge among each other virtually. They did so by engaging in robust discussions on message boards and online discussion forums. While the US had okayplayer, we had AfricasGateway. It was however, the era of blogging that gave structure and dignity to this practice of sharing well-written thoughts as submissions on the internet. Just like with most things, many blogs came and went as the phenomenon itself fizzled out.
It is from this grounding that The Plug found impetus. With the tagline, “Back To The Essence,” it is a no brainer that out of all the online publications reporting on urban culture, The Plug not only stands out, but maintains that gritty blog era authenticity in a glossy modern sheen.
Mercia Tucker, as per her Twitter bio, is the head honcho at The Plug – assuming ownership of the magazine two years ago. Since being at the helm, she has taken the magazine from strength to strength, transforming it into one of the most reputable online publications.
Talking about her start with the magazine, she says, “I’ve been with The Plug since its inception; taking ownership was one step further in my journey with the publication. What attracted me to the publication as a writer was the ability to put my thoughts about hip hop into long-form content and make compelling arguments about it outside of snippets on social media. As an owner, it was the ability to shape the media that young minds are influenced by on a daily basis.”
Predominantly covering urban-centric entertainment content focusing on music, fashion and culture; the marriage between words and visuals is meticulously presented in equal measure. This is one of the great qualities of The Plug. Whether it’s breaking new artists or reporting on new fashion, we are able to get an informed opinion on what the zeitgeist is in the world of music and fashion. She goes on to say, “the main priority is to be a conduit for the continued empowerment of young, black creatives in South Africa. To not only give our creatives a platform to thrive, but to also contribute to the economy of the arts in SA by recruiting them in whatever projects and campaigns that I’ve had the joy of working on.”
As a writer herself, Tucker is able to curate the content in the magazine from an experiential point of view. Being a recipient of the MultiChoice Innovation Fund goes a long way in enabling her to continue growing The Plug. “Partnering with an organisation that sees all you are and wants to extend their support to help you achieve more has been everything to us. They’ve given a lifeline in terms of the cash injection, but beyond that is the wealth of knowledge you receive from the other support structures as well as the valuable relationships you develop within the organisation,” she says about the fund.
During the first wave of the pandemic, for the June 2020 cover, the magazine decided to zone in on the effect the changing times were having on some of the country’s artists/industry practitioners. Through an essays feature called Of Pandemics and Artistry, The Plug provided a platform to rapper Stogie T, freelance fashion stylist Linda Sifumba and entertainment lawyer Katlego Malatji to share heartfelt personal essays about the new normal and how they were adjusting to it. It is in this ability to bridge the gap between artists/creatives and the audience that sets The Plug apart. Artists are also known to give very candid interviews – owed to Mercia’s disarming aura, as witnessed in notable interviews (Khuli Chana; Solo Ntsizwa Ka Mthimkhulu). At five years old, with Tucker being in charge for two, The Plug has proven to be a mouthpiece for urban youth - covering entertainment, culture and fashion.