The Source Magazine, Eminem, Hip Hop and Race

Here’s an interesting article dealing w/ growing skepticism of the Source magazine, Hip Hop and Race..



It was a press conference called by a high-profile congresswoman, the founder of a magazine once considered “the Bible of hip-hop” and a respected Los Angeles community activist. The goal: to tackle issues of racism in the music industry and to announce a plan “to reclaim ownership of hip-hop for the African American community.”

On the podium in Beverly Hills on Friday were Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), Source magazine founder David Mays and activist Aqueela Sherills, who helped broker a 1992 truce between rival gangs in Watts. Presidential candidate the Rev. Al Sharpton even put in a surprise appearance.

The participants decried what they characterized as a deliberate effort by the music industry “to redefine and repackage hip-hop for mainstream America” and outlined plans for a national peace campaign with a series of hip-hop festivals aimed at reinfusing money generated by rap music back into communities where it was born.

But there was also an elephant in the room, one that all on hand did their best to ignore: the ongoing feud between the Source and the world’s most popular rapper, Eminem, who is white.

Following a presentation that ran more than an hour, Mays, who is also white, called for questions from the press, but the Q&A session wrapped in less than five minutes. There were barely half a dozen reporters in the 150-seat ballroom.

The light turnout appeared to reflect increasing media skepticism toward the Source since the publication launched a series of attacks last year against Eminem.

Just as the magazine has assailed his character and integrity in the world of hip-hop, the mainstream press has been asking the same things about the Source. In its Jan. 12 issue, Time magazine writes that “outrage has boomeranged on the questionable journalistic judgment of Mays and the Source.”

The public skirmish began in the Source’s February 2003 issue, which included an article critical of Eminem and an illustration of rapper Benzino holding the Detroit rapper’s severed head. Benzino, whose real name is Raymond Scott, is Mays’ business partner.

The attacks escalate in the Source’s February issue, which hit stands last week — with Eminem on the cover. Several articles again paint him as a racist and a culture thief, a white kid who has profited enormously, and unfairly, from an art form created by blacks.

The magazine comes with a CD containing excerpts of a tape Eminem made at least a decade ago in which he denigrated black women.

The Source, which made the tape public in November, argues that the comments refute Eminem’s long-espoused position that he respects the black culture that gave birth to rap and fueled his career.

Eminem issued a short statement at the time apologizing, saying it was “something I made out of anger, stupidity and frustration when I was a teenager.”

The Source frames its questions about Eminem as symbolic of a pervasive racism threatening hip-hop music today, a problem Friday’s press conference tried to address.

“That debate [over Eminem] is necessary to force the discussion to the next level,” Mays said after the conference. “There’s no question Eminem is a powerful force. As a leader, he has a tremendous influence…. As painful as it might be, we’ve got to deal with the issue of racism.”

Yet many in the music press view the situation simply as mudslinging by Benzino and Mays.



Benzino’s role at the Source has been a point of contention before, prompting wholesale resignations of its editorial staff twice when the rapper, described by Village Voice music critic Robert Christgau as “an obvious second- or fourth-rater,” received glowing coverage in the magazine of which he’s “co-founder and chief brand executive.” The February issue has a cover reference to more Benzino coverage.

“There are issues worth debating about Eminem’s rise — the rise of a white figure to the top of the hip-hop game — and how it reflects racial attitudes in America,” says Craig Marks, editor in chief of Blender magazine, which covers rock, pop and hip-hop. “Unfortunately, the Source may not be the best-qualified magazine to lay those out.”

The Source’s discussion of racism and hip-hop, says Chuck Eddy, music editor at the Village Voice, is “completely colored by the feud” between the magazine and the rapper. “We haven’t done a piece on it, and we don’t plan to.”

The magazine’s new issue also charges Eminem, who has been widely embraced not only by Anglos but by black, Latino and Asian fans and other hip-hop artists, with using phrases derogatory to all African Americans. These are based on comments from a former associate, and this time the magazine has offered no audio clips as proof.

“We don’t have any further response to the Source,” a spokesman for Interscope Records, Eminem’s label, said last week. “We’re out of business with them.” Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, gave an exclusive interview to XXL magazine, the Source’s chief competitor, which will appear in its March issue, arriving on newsstands next month.

“I don’t think anyone around me is questioning where my heart is at,” he tells XXL, which once attacked his credibility because he is white. “I know what I do is black music. I know how it started, I know where it came from. But instead of trying to solely capitalize off it, I’ve been able to get in a position where I’m able to help other people.”

Editor in chief Elliott Wilson said XXL let Eminem address its rival’s questions about his racial attitudes because “despite the fact that you may not be able to trust the messenger [the Source], if an African American kid who’s an Eminem fan has heard that he used the N-word, he deserves answers.”

Dave Mays

Dave Mays

On Friday, some participants tried to draw a line between the Eminem debate and the discussion of ways to incorporate hip-hop music and performers into a broad campaign to reduce violence in inner cities and to channel the music’s economic power toward the improvement of those communities.

Mays pondered the question of whether the Source’s focus on Eminem might undermine efforts to promote meaningful debate on the wider issue of who deserves to reap the rewards of hip-hop’s transformation from a street art form to an international cultural phenomenon.

“He’s up there. He’s the tool being used by the corporations,” Mays said.

As to whether targeting Eminem will do more harm than good in the long run, “that,” Mays said, “remains to be seen.”

Randy Lewis, Times Staff Writer

Rap COINTELPRO VIII: Jada Vs Beanie and Suge’s Release

Cedric Muhammad

Cedric Muhammad

Yesterday, August 9, 2001, on Power 99 FM’s Dream Team morning show, Jadakiss repeatedly stated that he did not say what Shaheem Reid and The Source magazine quoted him as saying about Philadelphia in their July issue. Jadakiss also repeatedly said, over the air, that when he sees him in the future he fully intended to “smack the writer” of the article in The Source, that many now claim is responsible for sparking the tensions between Jadakiss and Beanie Siegel and Jadakiss and Philadelphia and for portraying trivial private problems rooted in competition between Roc-A-Fella and Ruff Ryders, as a growing feud.

Some people were defensive and offended when we wrote over the past month that The Source was being reckless and irresponsible in what it did in attempting to hype up the comments allegedly made by Jadakiss in the article. We outright stated that the manner in which they positioned Jadakiss’ quote was a deliberate attempt to grab the attention of the casual reader and intrigue them with the possibility that Jadakiss and Jay-Z were feuding. We also talked about the possibility that we believed that the writer of the story, Shaheem Reid, deliberately worked to pit Jadakiss and Beanie Siegel against each other. In our June 29th Hip-Hop Fridays article we wrote:

“But you can tell that this reporter, Shaheem Reid, was desperate to have his article break the news of this supposed “Jay-Z- Jadakiss beef”. If you read his quotes you can almost literally see him tripping over himself running to the phone to call Beanie Sigel to tell him what Jadakiss allegedly said to him about Philly.”

If we were wrong then who was the intermediary between Jadakiss and Beanie in reference to what Jadakiss allegedly said? Who told Beanie what Jadakiss allegedly said, if not Shaheem Reid or an editor of The Source?



Jadakiss repeatedly told Wendy Williams and the members of The Dream Team that he did not say what The Source quotes him as saying. He was asked several times by different members of the morning show, from different angles, and the answer, from Jadakiss, was always the same: he did not say what was quoted. He also added that he does not mince his words, if he said what said he did he would be the first to admit it. He made clear that it is his view that the writer of the article lied about the truth of his (Jadakiss’s) words.

Now, if Jadakiss is right, then all of this goes back to our opinion that rap magazines are as vulnerable to the spirit, tactics and practices of the FBI’s COINTELPRO today as they were 35 years ago. It is a demonstrated fact that the FBI planted stories; fed reporters lies and misinformation about people; positioned photographs and headlines in order to make certain pieces of information stand out and easier to digest; and misquoted individuals. All with the goal of discrediting and disrupting individuals and organizations and sparking envy, jealousy and civil wars between organizations with similar missions. This is a fact which we wrote about and provide the clear evidence of in our RAPCOINTELPRO series

We are not saying that Shaheem Reid is an FBI agent. We don’t know Shaheem Reid or what goes into Shaheem Reid’s writing. But we know that whatever the cause of his writing, the effect was that it contributed to sparking and escalating a potential conflict, that could have turned violent between Jadakiss and Beanie Siegel and even between Yonkers, New York (where Kiss is from) and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (where Beans is from).

Victims quite often could care less about the cause or effect of harm done to them – they are often in so much pain or so unaware of what has happened to them.

Akiba Solomon

Akiba Solomon

Akiba Solomon, editor-at-large of The Source, took exception with this part of what we wrote on June 29th:

“The Source in many ways is like the CIA or FBI doing intelligence work among groups they want to destroy. They like to throw the rock into the crowd and then hide their hand. When ill feelings, envy, resentment and feuds are fed by articles that they print in their magazine and people point the finger at them, The Source takes the attitude of “Who, Me?”. They express concern about ending violence in Hip-Hop and then they run stories that pit one rapper against the other. Even if they aren’t outright agents of the government sent to destroy Hip-Hop, the effect is the same. So, what is the real difference between a paid agent and one who does the same work for the sake of magazine sales and advertising revenue?”

But how is what we wrote inappropriate, especially in light of the fact that Jadakiss denies saying what The Source said he did? And in light of the fact that The Source deliberately lifted Jadakiss’ quote in a manner that would make the reader think that Jadakiss had a problem with Jay-Z? On June 29th we wrote:

The interesting part about the Jadakiss article is that they place in the center of one of the pages, the quote that they attribute to Jadakiss supposedly about Jay-Z. That quote, lifted and put front and center in bold-print is designed to catch the attention of people who rapidly flip through the pages. It is deliberate..

Anyone who doubts this should grab a copy of the July 10th issue of The Source and look at the lifted quote for themselves. Several of our viewers told us that the quote was positioned so well and so prominently that it caught their attention as they were skimming through the magazine with no intention at all of reading the Jadakiss feature article.

Now, we do not hold Jadakiss and Beanie Siegel blameless. It is obvious that both artists, especially Jadakiss tried to turn the rumors, controversy and tension to their benefit by making freestyles on mix tapes dissing each other. They attempted to use the dangerous innuendo thrown into the water by The Source as a marketing ploy. They both figured that the controversy would help both of them sell albums. This is misguided and dangerous. And eventually both sides realized this. But they should have never used the appearance of two Brothers fighting each other as a marketing strategy. Both the executives of Roc-A-Fella and Ruff Ryders should not have risked injury and lives, including that of their respective artists, for the sake of extra record sales

And we do not think that it is appropriate or wise for Jadakiss to state that he intends to “smack the writer” of the article. If Shaheem Reid is responsible for falsely attributing comments to Jadakiss then we certainly can understand where Jadakiss is coming from and how he feels. Put yourself in his shoes. If what he says happened to him, was your experience, you too would probably want to “smack the writer”. But although your feelings may be justified, your actions would not be, in our opinion.

writer Shaheem Reid

writer Shaheem Reid

But even if it is true that Shaheem Reid did what he did, Jadakiss would only be giving Shaheem Reid and the ill-motivations of The Source, power over his bright future if he were to do what he says he will. By “smacking the writer” Jadakiss would be guaranteeing that he becomes the victim of the lies that were written about him.

On the other hand, we have not heard Shaheem Reid’s side of the story and until we do, we will reserve judgment on whether or not he outright lied on Jadakiss.

What we would advise Jadakiss to do, if what he says about what happened is true, is 1) never give The Source another interview again 2) ask Ruff Ryders to pull all of its advertising dollars out of The Source 3) Demand a public written apology from The Source and Shaheem Reid within a month 4) And if Shaheem Reid or The Source does not write an apology, Jadakiss should use every opportunity he gets in promoting his new album “Kiss The Game Goodbye” on television, cable and radio to call for a boycott of The Source.

That is much more effective than smacking the hell out of a writer, who may or may not have been manipulated or urged on to do what he or she did by editors and publishers.

Beanie Sigel

Beanie Sigel

Surely, Jadakiss right now, has just about more influence and attention than any other rapper in the game. If he wanted to, in effect, shut The Source down, he could do so almost single-handedly. He surely could do it if he and Ruff Ryders enlisted the help of Beanie Siegel and Roc-A-Fella in the effort. Instead of “uniting” to sell records by using a dangerous controversy popularized by a major magazine, perhaps both camps could “unite” and start a boycott of the major magazine responsible for much of the problem. That is much more constructive than violence on a journalist.

But surely any reasonable person can understand where Jadakiss is coming from, to an extent. If Jadakiss is correct and “the writer” lied on him, then his life (Jadakiss) was placed in danger by that lie. For a writer to falsely pit a rapper against an entire city, full of true die-hard Hip-Hop fans like those in Philly, is the height of wickedness.

At the very least The Source has some very serious questions to answer and Jadakiss can help all of us to get those answers if he reacts in a wise fashion or in the manner of a “boss” and “businessman” – the roles he publicly emphasizes that he is fulfilling every day. Anyone who has met him or heard him speak knows that Jadakiss has the necessary mind, eloquence, charisma and access to financial resources to deal with Shaheem Reid and the entire matter with the more wisdom than that which is embodied in an impulsive act of violence.

But again, if Jadakiss is right, then every Hip-Hop fan should feel the seriousness of the moment as well as the full extent of the “journalism crisis” in Hip-Hop that we have written about.

In addition, or rather, in light of the media’s role in hyping and circulating the Jadakiss-Beanie Siegel controversy, everyone should begin to seriously question the motive(s) surrounding the mainstream media’s recent interest in Suge Knight and the murders of Biggie and Tupac. Why haven’t the Hip-Hop media challenged what the mainstream media has been doing in its obviously wickedly motivated, and fallacious and flawed attempt to link Suge to the murder of Biggie through the recent Rolling Stone article and VH-1 documentary? What is it that makes the major Hip-Hop magazines silent, indolent and lethargic on this issue and many others that can spark violence in Hip-Hop?

Suge Knight

Suge Knight

As we have written now for several months, the combination of the silence, duplicity and innuendo of the Hip-Hop media establishment, in combination with other factors, has created the atmosphere for harm to be done to Suge Knight and for the blame for such to be placed on the shoulders of other rap artists. Why is this so hard to recognize? Hasn’t anybody noticed the angle being pushed in the litany of Suge Knight interviews in the mainstream media like MTV and Access Hollywood? It is obvious that specific questions are being asked and the cameras are rolling for reasons well beyond the legitimate news story that Suge Knight has been released from jail.

In these interviews you can literally see Suge Knight wrestling with his desire to promote records, improve his image and express his obvious joy to be free from jail as well as some bitterness that he feels, as he simultaneously works to avoid the traps, pitfalls and mischief making of those who are asking the questions. Suge knows that those people who are interviewing him are largely wickedly motivated and are mainly (not entirely) interested in getting him to say something about another rapper or individual(s) so that they can say that a rap war has been started or reignited. They also want him to implicate himself in crime(s) that he has repeatedly said he has not committed.

But is Suge making the same mistake that Jadakiss made in attempting to enlist a wickedly motivated media and volatile controversy in an attempt to sell records? Is such a strategy really successful, in the long-term, or does it actually shorten careers and lives? Or, better yet, have those in the media and the government who are working to destroy Hip-Hop, already factored in the powerful desire of Suge and rappers like Jadakiss to sell records into their (the media and government) plans to destroy Hip-Hop and spark controversy and violence?

Are the profit motive, marketing efforts and publicity campaigns serving a larger effort aimed at destroying Hip-Hop and the influence it is having on the world’s youth?

Is the desire for attention, publicity and profits on the part of Hip-Hop artists and executives a weakness being used by publications like The Source, Rolling Stone, MTV and VH-1, for example?

And specifically what about the massive attention that Newsweek magazine and The Imus In The Morning program have given to Suge Knight’s release? What is their motive? How do appearances on such shows and interviews with such publications, which disrespect Hip-Hop, serve Hip-Hop?

No matter how you look at it, Suge’s release and the Jadakiss-Beanie Siegel controversy have placed Hip-Hop at a fork in the road and in the beginning stages of its greatest test, ever.

Will we be able to pass the test without the unnecessary shedding of blood and loss of life?

Cedric Muhammad

Friday, August 10, 2001