The Source (magazine)

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This article is about the music magazine. For the photography magazine, see Source (photography magazine). For the bi-monthly magazine published by the John Lewis Partnership, see Source (magazine).
The Source
The Source (magazine).jpg
Editor-in-Chief Kimberly Osorio
Categories Music magazine
Frequency 10 per year
Publisher L. Londell McMillan
First issue 1988
Company The NorthStar Group
Country United States
Based in New York City
Language English
ISSN 1063-2085

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 longest running rap periodical. The Source was founded as a newsletter in 1988.[1]


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.[citation needed]

Jon Shecter and David Mays decided to hire their college friends James Bernard (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.[citation needed]

TThe 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.[citation needed]

The Source Awards[edit]

Treleased a second diss, "The Sauce", in which he questioned The Source's legitimacy and credibility, and accused Benzino of using it to help his and his son's careers. When Benzino realized his records could not compete with Eminem's stardom, he pulled the magazine into his battle [Source needed]. In the February 2003 issue featuring Ja Rule on the cover, Benzino inserted a poster of himself holding Eminem's bloody head. Ja Rule at the time was beefing 50 Cent, who Eminem and Dr. Dre had signed onto their record label. [1]

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.[2] 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.

Later, Benzino and The Source would urge video and radio stations to ban Eminem's video, "Just Lose It", and issue an apology to Michael Jackson. The video depicts Jackson in a negative light and the publication wanted to boycott the rapper. In spite of their efforts, BET was the only network to ban the video. BET claimed Benzino was not the reason for the banning, but rather that it was out of admiration of Jackson. Eminem released the single "Like Toy Soldiers" from Encore, in which he states he'll "walk away from it all before it gets any further". Undaunted, Benzino responded with the "diss" track, "Look Into My Eyes", in which he claims Eminem does not want to fight anymore because he is scared.

While visiting a Detroit radio station, the publication's founder Mays and Eminem got into a heated dispute, which resulted in Benzino feuding again. This time his beef included rappers 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Trick-Trick and many others who were associated with Eminem. There were numerous reports that Benzino had threatened editors to write a critical piece about G-Unit after comments were made by members of the group. When Mays was injured after a confrontation with Busta Rhymes, Benzino began criticizing and dissing him. The aftermath from feuding with Eminem caused seemingly irreparable damage to the magazine's credibility. This forced Interscope and other record labels to pull advertising from The Source as well.

The Source staff's objections to Mays and Benzino[edit]

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.[3] 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 NorthStar Group[edit]

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.

Kim Osorio returns to The Source after lawsuit[edit]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6][7][8][9]

The Source's Man Of The Year, Woman of The Year and Rookie Of The Year Awards[edit]

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.[10] 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.[11] Nicki Minaj was named The Woman of The Year for 2012.[12]

Unsigned Hype[edit]

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 and Pitbull.

More recently, the column has found great success breaking artists such as German Shepherd, Kid Ink, Action Bronson, Macklemore, Stro, Flatbush Zombies and Trinidad James.

The Source's Five-Mic albums[edit]

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.[13] A total of 45 albums have been awarded five mics; a complete, chronological list is below.[14]

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:


Year Album Chart Positions
US US Hip-Hop
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


  1. ^ a b Ogunnaike, Lola (29 January 2003). "War of the Words at Hip-Hop Magazines". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "Eminem Racial Slurs Come Back To Haunt". Chicago Tribune. November 20, 2003. 
  3. ^ "Just Leave, Ray" (PDF). Bomani Jones (PDF). 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  4. ^ "Kim Osorio Returns To The Source Magazine". BET. January 11, 2012. 
  5. ^ Carlson, Peter (October 25, 2006). "Hip-Hop Editor Wins Suit over Her Firing". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 7, 2010. 
  6. ^ Money central
  7. ^ The Washington Post
  8. ^ The New York Post
  9. ^ WNBC
  10. ^ The Source
  11. ^ The Source
  12. ^ The Source
  13. ^ Osorio, Kim. "5 Mics: Who Got Next?". The Source. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  14. ^ 5 Mic Albums. The Source. Retrieved 2010-09-15.

External links[edit]