Although it has been considered an urban industry sellout for several years, The Source is literally for sale.
The hip-hop communications empire’s founder and CEO/publisher David Mays wants $100 million for Source Enterprises Inc., which includes the flagship Source hip-hop interest magazine, The Source Sports magazine, Thesource.com, the True 92 radio network, a CD library of greatest hip-hop hits that has led to certified gold album compilations, the Source Entertainment television production company, and its television properties Source Sound Lab and Source: All Access broadcasting on the African Heritage Network (both in Illinois on UPN affiliates WPWR-TV, Channel 50 in Chicagoland and WEIL-TV, Channel 41 in Champaign).
No spokesperson for The Source or David Mays could be reached to explain his plans if and when the hip-hop communications company is bought and how such a purchase would effect the Gaithersburg, Md.-based Source Youth Foundation aiding programs that assist programs benefiting youth or how its annual Source Awards would be effected. [ NON-PRINTABLE WRITER’S NOTE TO EDITOR: the editor-in-chief of Louisville-based Inferno magazine, whoÕs good friends with SYF director Ed DeJesus says DeJesus acknowledged that May’s company isn’t even funding the foundation’s programs ]
Mays founded The Source around 1988 while a graduate business administration student at Harvard University. Drawing from a listing of music industry movers and shakers compiled while he was hip-hop DJ at HarvardÕs radio station, he began publishing The Source as a crudely fashioned one-sheet. By the late 1980s, it was a full glossy magazine, and by the late 1990s The Source had outsold Rolling Stone as the fastest selling popular culture publication. The Source magazine now boasts a circulation of 400,000 and a monthly readership of 3 million.
In the late 1990s, Thesource.com began as a collaborative multimedia effort between the company’s New York City headquarters and Chicago-based Tunes.com. Tunes.com eventually dropped Thesource.com as an account by 2000, citing lack of cooperation with the New York City office, and eventually moved its headquarters from Chicago to San Francisco. The responsibility for maintaining the online version of The Source the devolved to the hip-hop communications company’s New York City headquarters.
Mays years as Source’s top boss been marked by a series of walkouts by his editorial staff over a Boston rap group he allegedly has maintained a financial interest in since his Harvard days, Made Men (originally known as Almighty RSO). One walkout in the mid-1990s was reportedly triggered by Mays attempts to give high profile placement for a Made Men feature story in The Source over the objections of its editorial staff. The latest walkout occurred around 2000 when a 4 1/2-mic rating for its last album was changed to a maximum score of five mics without the executive editorial staff’s knowledge and approval.
Sources close to one of Made Men’s former affiliates, Boston urban designer and clothier Antonio Asaldi, claim that Asaldi received free full-page advertisements as a result of that connection on the magazine’s pages that would normally would have cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000. Asaldi has disassociated himself with Made Men and no longer advertises in The Source. During The Source’s 10th anniversary in Boston in 1998, the venue for the celebration became so crowded that police denied the magazine’s staff admission to the event.
The 2001 Source Awards ceremony has relocated to Miami after several tumultuous years in South California that reached the brink with a melee during last year’s event in Pasadena, Calif. Tensions between E-40’s camp, DJ Quik and a lesser known San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area rapper escalated into a free-for-all at last year’s Source Awards that shut down the event a few awards into the ceremony (much of the combat footage was videotaped by the Chicago cable access Channel Zero TV that airs on CAN-TV19, which has a web link with The Source at www.channelzerotv.com). The event aired over UPN on schedule with footage pieced together from the awards ceremony and that of interviews and presentations outside the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
New York City and California sources complained that Los Angeles area street gangs traditionally called a truce the day of the Source Awards to rob celebrities attending the event. Extra security has reportedly been hired by the event’s organizers for the Source Award ceremony’s Miami venue to avoid last year’s violence.
In revulsion to last year’s violence in Pasadena and to what he perceives as hip-hop’s corruption by corporate and media forces, Universal Zulu Nation’s spiritual leader, Afrika Bambaataa, is proposing a grassroots, B-kid purist answer to the Source Awards.
MARK FITZGERALD ARMSTRONG
11706 SOUTH THROOP STREET
CHICAGO, IL 60643