The Source (magazine)

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The Source Magazine

The Source is a monthly full-color magazine covering hip-hop music, politics, and culture. The magazine was founded as a newsletter in 1988 by David Mays, and is co-owned by Mays and hip-hop artist Benzino. Since its beginnings, The Source has grown into one of the largest and most influential music publications in the United States. Its main rival is XXL magazine.



The Source was started originally by David Mays and Jon Shecter while they both attended Harvard University. The two were once radio DJs and hosted "Street Beat" on the college radio station. Mays and Shecter both white men, were influenced by hip-hop and wanted to give praise by devoting coverage to the rising music genre. The Source originally started as a concert newsletter. Its popularity became known when The Source scored a interview with LL Cool J. The Source was growing from one small newsletter to a mainstream magazine.

The two decided to hire their college friends James Benard, Reginald Dennis, and Ed Young. The music editor at the time was Dave Mays but he decided to handle orientating advertising for the magazine. The Source was moved from Boston to New York. Their move was to expand the magazine in a mainstream market.

The Source became a household name. Subscribers would notice the magazine for its articles on their favorite artist. The magazine included its notable features. Its "Unsigned Hype" section, a page printed each month with profile of an up-in-coming rapper or group. "Unsigned Hype" best nominees included DMX, Eminem, Notorious B.I.G. and 50 Cent. Also it included its "Record Report", a review of an album release. Its rating are judged by "mics", the equivalent to a star rating. A rapper who earned a 4 1/2 mic rating or a 5 mic rating on an album is considered an acclaimed rapper by The Source Magazine.

The magazine also featured cover stories on the crack/cocaine epidemic, police brutality, and New York's investigation of high-profile rappers. The magazine has over 8 million subscribers worldwide, and is the most popular hip-hop magazine in the world.

Journalistic integrity and scrutiny

For over 15 years, The Source has been the resource for hip-hop music. They were the reigning magazine. As of 2002, The Source has been the subject of scrutiny. From its ties to rapper Benzino, to the is alleged bias against rappers, The Source still garnish the most readers to date.

The Source Enterprises

As The Source expanded, the magazine then became involved in television programs The Source: All-Access, The Source: Sound Lab and its annual awards. The Source Awards are given to rappers and some R & B acts for their contributions to the music. The "Lifetime Achievement" Award is the highest award given to a rapper who has contribute their time to succeeding in the hip-hop music industry. The Source also releases a compilation album of hip-hop/rap hits. The Source has expanded overseas with a French version of the rap magazine, alongside a Source Latino and The Source Israel magazine franchises. The company invested in mobile phones and ringtones in which the subscribers are offered their favorite choice of hip-hop ringtones.

The Source Awards fiasco

The magazine is also known for its namesake,The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards Show. The first live, but untelevised, show was held in 1994 at the Paramount Theatre in Madison Square Garden.

The Source Awards is the first hip-hop show devoted to giving credit to hip-hop and awarding artists for achievement in the genre. Back in 1995, while in Miami, The Source Awards was at the center of controversy. This is the first time where hip-hop awards show broke out in violence. This tradition follows most hip-hop award shows. The Source did play an inadvertent role in untimely deaths of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. (Christopher Wallace). The awards show invited Bad Boy and Death Row Records to the event and a riot involving several men occurred.

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The Source Awards Brawl

The Source held their award show in Pasadena, California in 2001. The award show was sparred by violence in the crowd. The audience got into a riot and people were injured. The fight landed DJ Quik in the hospital and resulted in Pasadena banning The Source from having their awards held in the city. Also, the bad publicity caused UPN, the network broadcasting The Source Awards, to sever their ties with them. The Source Awards now are featured on BET.

Benzino and his role at The Source

The magazine is now run by Dave Mays and Raymond "Benzino" Scott, a member of the Boston rap group The Almighty RSO. Benzino and his role at The Source is a topic of much controversy. His input in the magazine has greatly influenced The Source. Benzino befriended Dave Mays while at Harvard. He needed support from Mays to get his group some credibility. In a short time, Mays became the RSO's manager. In 1994, Mays had slipped a four page article about the group into the magazine against the will of the editors. The article forced a major walk-out among staff members, including the original members: co-founder Shecter, Dennis and Benard.

From 1988 to 2001, Benzino was secretly investing and working at The Source. The magazine had indeed inserted favorable coverage to Benzino and his numerous ventures (including the reformed Almighty RSO, now known as the Made Men). Even at The Source Awards, Benzino, a relatively unknown performed at the show to the surprise of a stunned audience. When Benzino was arrested in Florida after taping The Source Awards, Mays rallied for a investigation of the Miami Police for their treatment of the rapper and threatened a boycott against Miami. The rapper always denied that he had a role in the magazine, but factual evidence proves that Benzino's role indeed affects its journalistic integrity.

The Source against Eminem

In late 2002, Benzino began a feud with multi-platinum white rapper Eminem in order to create publicity for his newest album. Benzino claimed that Eminem was a product of the media machine that sought to discredit black and Latino artists' contributions to hip hop. He released a diss track called "Pull Ya Skirt Up", in which he says, among other things, that Eminem would only be remembered as a battle rapper a la Canibus if he weren't white. The track also alleged that the rapper would never have gained his level of popularity without being featured in The Source's Unsigned Hype column. The writers of The Source were forced to write stories discrediting Eminem. Eminem responded back in a series of diss songs (namely "The Sauce" and "Nail In The Coffin") that attacked Benzino's street credibility and ethnicity. He also mocked Benzino for trying to make his son Lil' Ray Ray into a rap star. These records were widely seen as highly damaging to Benzino and The Source's credibility. Undaunted, Benzino went back and recorded several more tracks, including "Die Another Day" (in which he likens himself to a hip hop version of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X and calls for Eminem's death) and "Lose Yourself" (which plays off the chorus of Eminem's hit song of the same name). These tracks were widely ignored.

The Source then went another route to take down Eminem. It went as far to dig up an old tape in which a young Eminem was rapping racial slurs against Blacks and women. The magazine devoted its entire coverage to the discovery of the tapes, and also the negative impact that Eminem has had on the hip-hop industry. For his part, Eminem did not deny making the tapes; he claimed that he made them after a bitter break up with a black girlfriend (a situation upon which he elaborates on "Yellow Brick Road" off his Encore album). He apologized for making the tapes but also exhorted the public to consider the source (no pun intended) of the allegations. Eminem had sued The Source for defamation and copyright infringement. The federal courts allowed an injunction to distribute a minimal amount of lyrics of the alleged tape. The Source ignored the injunction and went forth to publish the entire lyrics on its website and in its magazine. By ignoring the injunction, The Source was found in contempt of court and were forced to pay Eminem and his label, Shady Records a hefty sum of compensation. On January 3, 2005, Eminem was granted his trial for copyright infringement. But as of March 24, 2005, Eminem withdrew his lawsuit stating that he was done with The Source and he felt there was nothing else to take from the magazine. Benzino still hasn't officially squash the beef with Eminem. Mays and Benzino both countered the withdrawal of the lawsuit calling it a "cowardly" move. They both claimed they can finally expose the truth about Eminem and planned to eventually release the "racist tapes" in a future magazine. Nevertheless, The Source was satisfied with the results, and felt that the move was considered a win for both parties.

The future of The Source Magazine and Benzino's Resignation

Currently the future of The Source is uncertain. The magazine is losing subscribers due to not delivering magazines on time and is facing numerous lawsuits totaling over a million dollars. Rival magazine XXL is steadily becoming the best-selling hip-hop magazine, and The Source is losing major advertising from the battle with Eminem.

The Source staged a fake event in order to encourage advertisers to invest in the controversial magazine. On April 8, 2005, Benzino formally announced that he's resigning as chief operations officer and co-owner of The Source. Benzino cited that the battle with Eminem and the magazine's publishers were hurting the revenue of The Source. Within a few mere days Benzino announced that he will re-establish his title as co-owner and continue to work with The Source. The rapper claimed that Interscope's chairman Jimmy Iovine was pressuring to fire rap mogul L.A. Reid if he didn't have Def Jam advertising removed from The Source. The reason why Benzino stepped down was to save Reid's position as president of Island Def Jam or so he said. Last year, Benzino had been on radio basically denouncing Def Jam's founder Russell Simmons for not participating in his smear campaign to expose Eminem as a racist. He had used racial comments about Simmons in the past forcing Def Jam to pull a vast majority of their ads from The Source.

In addition, The Source is still facing a lawsuits over travel expenses for the 2003 Source Awards. The Smoking Gun ( claimed The Source owes over 1.2 million dollars in unclaimed jewelry and unpaid airline tickets for both Benzino and Mays families. Also lawsuits from former employees of the magazine also plague The Source. Benzino and Mays were filming a video in the Dominican Republic, and while they were away The Source staff had another walk-out. The protest came from paychecks not clearing and Benzino and Dave Mays were nowhere in sight. The Source avoided paying freelance writers for the stories they wrote in the magazine.

The magazine most recent lawsuit comes from former editor-in-chief, Kim Osorio. Osorio alongside former marketing executive, Michelle Joyce both filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the magazine over gender discrimination and sexual harassment. Osorio claimed that Benzino and his friends from Boston would get special treatment while the female staffers were to abide by the rules. Also numerous complaints about harassments to female staffers were turned down by Benzino and Mays.

Rumors around the rap websites state that The Source is close to bankruptcy. The financial stress from losing advertisers, losing subscribers, and lawsuits may force the company into involuntary bankruptcy and a possibility that the magazine will go out of business. The effect of The Source Magazine's departure will greatly affect the fans due to the 15 years of impact the magazine had on the hip-hop community.

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