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|Frequency||10 per year|
|Publisher||L. Londell McMillan|
|Company||The NorthStar Group|
|Based in||New York City|
|Frequency||10 per year|
|Publisher||L. Londell McMillan|
|Company||The NorthStar Group|
|Based in||New York City|
The Source is a United States-based, monthly full-color magazine covering hip-hop music, politics, and culture, founded in 1988. It is the world's second longest running rap periodical, behind United Kingdom-based publication Hip Hop Connection. The Source was founded as a newsletter in 1988.
The Source was originally started by two Harvard University students in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who were influenced by Hip-Hop and wanted to give praise by devoting coverage to the rising music genre.
Jon Shecter and David Mays decided to hire their college friends James Benard (as senior editor) and Ed Young (as associate publisher), and the four men immediately became shareholders in the ownership of the magazine. At the time, Mays handled duties as the publisher for the magazine, and Shecter was the editor-in-chief. The magazine's offices were moved from Massachusetts to New York City in 1990, a move that was made with the intention to expand the magazine into a mainstream market publication.
The magazine featured cover stories on the crack cocaine epidemic, police brutality, and New York's investigations of high-profile emcees. The magazine also included many notable features, including the famous "Unsigned Hype" column. The publication has over eight million subscribers worldwide and remains one of the most popular hip-hop magazines in the world.
As The Source expanded, the magazine became involved in television programs such as The Source: All-Access and The Source: Sound Lab. The magazine's annual awards show, known as The Source Awards, honors both hip-hop and R&B performers for their contributions to hip-hop. The Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest award given to an emcee who has contributed his/her time to succeeding in the hip-hop music industry. The Source also releases a compilation album of hip-hop hits. The magazine expanded overseas with a French-language version, alongside The Source Latino and The Source Israel magazine franchises. The company invested in mobile phones and ringtones under The Source Mobile Channel moniker, in which subscribers are offered their favorite choice of hip-hop ringtones. The Source also invested in its own urban clothing apparel company.
The first live Source Hip-Hop Music Awards show was held in 1994, with the only notable event being Tupac's running onstage during a set by A Tribe Called Quest, interrupting their performance. No violence resulted, and Shakur was convinced to make an apology by members of the Zulu Nation. During the show, hardcore rap group Onyx shot off live ammunition during their performance of the song "Throw Ya Gunz". Though not televised, the incident was caught on amateur footage and can be seen on Onyx's documentary DVD.
The second ceremony was held in 1995 at the Paramount Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Unlike the first show, this installment was recorded for a later television broadcast. After accepting an award, Death Row Records' CEO Suge Knight made comments imploring all aspiring artists to "come to Death Row" if they wanted to make records without their executive producers appearing in every one of their songs and/or videos. Knight's statement was directed towards Bad Boy Records' CEO Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, who was prominently featured in his artists' recordings and videos at the time. Many point to these comments, and the direction the show took afterwards, as a turning point in the heightening tensions between East Coast and West Coast factions, and specifically between the Bad Boy and Death Row labels.
The Source held their award show in Pasadena, California, in 2000. The program had to be stopped after a fight broke out, resulting in only five of the fifteen awards actually being given out during the program, and two performances cut short. In addition, DJ Quik was hospitalized after being injured in the melee. As a result, Pasadena officials banned The Source from holding their awards in the city in the future. The award show was recorded for later broadcast by the UPN television network in the United States, and was heavily edited to exclude the fights. Despite ratings numbers that exceeded the previous year's broadcast, the bad publicity caused UPN to sever their ties with The Source after the 2001 awards show from Miami. The Source Awards were featured on BET for one year; no Source Awards program has been televised since.
After the original editors resigned from the publication, the magazine experienced several years of success as it grew, along with the exploding popularity of rap music and hip-hop culture under the magazine's second editor-in-chief, Adario Strange. Several years later, with Selwyn Hinds in the editor's seat, it was suddenly announced that rapper Raymond Scott—known as Benzino—had been made a co-owner of The Source.
In 2002, Benzino started a feud with Eminem. Benzino claimed that Eminem was a product of the machine that sought to discredit black and Latino artists' contributions to hip-hop. He released a diss record against Eminem called "I Don't Wanna," wherein he claimed that Eminem was not real and true to the rap culture. This racial attack did not fare well with rap fans, and when that song failed to impact, Benzino dissed Eminem again with "Pull Up Your Skirt," to which Eminem finally responded with his own diss tracks, including "Nail In The Coffin" where Eminem clowns Benzino for being too old to be a rapper and not respected by real lyricists. When Benzino realized his records could not compete with Eminem's stardom, he pulled the magazine into his battle. In the February 2003 issue featuring Ja Rule on the cover, Benzino inserted a poster of himself holding Eminem's bloody head.
At this point, Eminem, Dr. Dre and the Aftermath label decided to boycott the magazine. Eminem, Dre and 50 Cent appeared on the cover of XXL magazine's March 2003 issue and Aftermath's parent company Interscope Records decided to pull all advertising from the publication. Then in the midst of this controversy, The Source announced in a press conference that the magazine was in possession of an old tape in which a young Eminem was rapping racial slurs against Black women. 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" on his Encore album). He apologized for making the tapes but also exhorted the public to consider the origin of the allegations.
Nevertheless, Eminem sued The Source for defamation and copyright infringement. The federal courts allowed an injunction to limit the distribution of the tape's lyrics. The Source ignored the injunction and went forth to publish the entire lyrics on its website and in its magazine. In 2005, after Eminem's motions against The Source were dismissed in federal court, lawyers for Eminem abruptly withdrew his lawsuit against "The Source," stating that the rapper no longer had any issue with The Source. Mays and Benzino both countered the withdrawal of the lawsuit, calling it a "cowardly" move. They both claimed they could finally expose the truth about Eminem and planned to eventually release the "racist tapes" in a future magazine. It devoted its February 2004 issue to the discovery of the tapes, and included a CD of the early Eminem songs with the magazine. Nevertheless, The Source was satisfied with the results, and felt that the move was considered a win.
In 2005, after Kimberly Osorio had been unlawfully fired, Mays and Benzino appointed Joshua "Fahiym" Ratcliffe to the E.I.C. post at the publication. That same year, however, he abruptly resigned after he was ordered to lower the rating of Little Brother's The Minstrel Show from four-and-a-half to four. Lil' Kim's release, The Naked Truth, received the five mic rating instead. Although critics speculated that Lil' Kim's manager was dating Dave Mays, this was the first time that a female rapper ever received the highest rating in the magazine. In 2006, Benzino formally announced that he was resigning as chief operations officer and co-owner of The Source," stating that his battle with Eminem and the magazine's publishers were hurting the revenue of The Source." But a few days later, Benzino announced that he had returned to The Source as co-owner. Industry insiders believed that The Source had staged a fake event in order to encourage advertisers to invest in the controversial magazine. The rapper refuted his claims about saving The Source, and instead blamed Interscope's chairman Jimmy Iovine. Benzino believed that 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 claimed. Benzino then went on radio denouncing Def Jam's founder Russell Simmons for not participating in his smear campaign to expose Eminem. He had used racial comments about Simmons in the past, forcing Def Jam to pull a vast majority of their ads from The Source. Later that year, Benzino and David Mays were forced out of The Source by its private-equity investors Black Enterprise / Greenwich Street Corporate Growth Partners.
The Source entered a new era with the emergence of The NorthStar Group. Under the leadership of prominent and respected celebrity attorney L. Londell McMillan, the magazine experienced a rebirth under its new parent company. With a new direction, The Source made prominent moves to rebound its mission in the Hip-Hop culture and restore the magazine to its authoritative position in the media space. Maintaining its voice within the community, the new era brought a more industry insider voice to the magazine, while the brand beefed up its digital presence and focused on social responsibility. McMillan opted to remove all raunchy ads from The Source Magazine's future issues, effective 2008. The renewed brand welcomed back numerous advertisers, and celebrated its 20th anniversary with a special issue, four groundbreaking covers all photographed by renowned film director Spike Lee. Under McMillan's direction, The NorthStar Group has welcomed other brands, including Jones Magazine.
In January 2012, The Source and L. Londell McMillan held a press conference to announce that Kimberly Osorio was returning to the magazine as the Editor-In-Chief and VP of Content and Editorial of the Northstar Group. Her return came over five years after she sued the magazine and its former owners, Dave Mays and Raymond "Benzino" Scott for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation and defamation. In her suit, Osorio claimed that Benzino harassed her and other women on the staff. She also complained that Benzino and his friends were treated more favorably in pay and perks than the females on staff. Her suit also stated that numerous complaints of harassment of female staffers were not followed up on by Mays, Benzino or senior management.
In 2010 The Source Magazine introduced its Man Of The Year and Rookie Of The Year covers for its December/January issue. The first annual edition sported Rick Ross and at the time a relatively young Wiz Khalifa on the cover. The following year in 2011 Rick Ross repeated as Man Of The Year, with this time Big Sean receiving Rookie Of The Year honors.
2 Chainz would end Ross' streak in 2012 being named to Man Of The Year cover. The Def Jam Records artist was recognized on stage in NYC with a plaque to commemorate the annual cover. On the heels of his highly successful second studio album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick Lamar was named the 2012 Rookie Of The Year. Nicki Minaj was named The Woman of The Year for 2012.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2011)|
Unsigned Hype is a column in the The Source devoted to identifying promising new rappers who do not have record deals. Many famous or successful rappers were once featured, including The Notorious B.I.G., Eminem, DMX, Canibus, Immortal Technique, Common, Mobb Deep (appearing as Poetical Prophets), Ya Boy, Joell Ortiz, Proof, German Shepard Shepherd and Pitbull.
The Record Report is a section in the publication in which the magazine's staff rates Hip-Hop albums. Ratings range from one to five mics', paralleling a typical five-star rating scale. An album that is rated at four-and-a-half or five mics is considered by The Source to be a superior hip hop album. Over the first ten years or so, the heralded five-mic rating only applied to albums that were universally lauded hip hop albums. A total of 45 albums have been awarded five mics; a complete, chronological list is below.
Albums that originally received five mics:
Albums that were not rated upon their releases, but were later rated five mics in 2002:
Albums that originally received 4.5 mics, and were later re-rated to five:
Albums that originally received four mics, and were later re-rated to five:
|1997||The Source Presents: Hip Hop Hits||38||25|
|1998||The Source Presents: Hip Hop Hits, Vol. 2||46||29|
|1999||The Source Hip Hop Music Awards 1999||45||53|
|1999||The Source Presents: Hip Hop Hits, Vol. 3||45||29|
|2000||The Source Hip Hop Music Awards 2000||17||16|
|2000||The Source Presents: Hip Hop Hits, Vol. 4||43||35|
|2001||The Source Hip Hop Music Awards 2001||28||34|
|2001||The Source Presents: Hip Hop Hits, Vol. 5||47||38|
|2002||The Source Presents: Hip Hop Hits, Vol. 6||35||31|
|2003||The Source Presents: Hip Hop Hits, Vol. 7||89||46|
|2004||The Source Presents: Hip Hop Hits, Vol. 8||45||43|
|2004||The Source Presents: Hip Hop Hits, Vol. 9||75||36|
|2005||The Source Presents: Hip Hop Hits, Vol. 10||60||47|