Friday, April 29th, 2005

Dave Mays: Allegations Against The Source "A Form Of Racial Profiling"

Dave Mays goes to to lash out at Reginald Dennis’ recent article in HipHopDX and Kim Osorio’s lawsuit. He compares the pressure on the magazine to a COINTELPRO operation, tries to link such pressure to recent cases against Lil’ Kim and Irv Gotti, and implies that it’s all part of a federal government conspiracy:

I don’t know if you guys report on these things but if you read The Source magazine, we report on real issues, serious issues within our community and within our industry. And one of those serious issues if you know if you were to look into it is the issue of the federal governments targeting of the Hip-Hop music industry and the Hip-Hop community. It’s a profiling of Rap artists, it’s a form of racial profiling that’s taking place within our industry, the investigation of Lil’ Kim as supposedly as an organized crime figure. This is again led to things like Irv Gotti being indicted. Irv Gotti is somebody who has done more to help people save lives, bring crime down in communities, empower communities but yet he’s the target of a federal investigation and not the people that are really criminals in the industry, the real criminals. It’s just also you can read about in this month’s Source magazine where we discuss these kinds of issues in depth.

There’s a whole lot more. He reiterates that his 1994 action of inserting an article on Almighty RSO into the magazine, which resulted in the first Source staff walkout–there have now been at least three more similar mass exoduses in the history of the magazine–was entirely justified. “These guys didn’t want to listen even though they were paid a lot of money by me to do a job for my company,” he says.

He then takes new shots at Reginald Dennis, James Bernard, and Kim Osorio. He again makes specific mention of Osorio’s alleged sex life in reference to her sexual harassment lawsuit. He calls Dennis and Bernard “closet weirdos”. Then he refers to himself and Benzino in third person–a lot–and says they are the best of friends. Of his friendship with Benzino, he says, “I mean first of all Benzino is a widely respected figure across the globe. In any city, any country around the world Benzino is widely known and widely respected.”

And he claims in the extended portion of the interview, that the Rev. Al Sharpton “is very happy to have Benzino on as a leader that’s willing to come on board and step out and be a part of promoting non-violence in the Hip-Hop community.”

But interestingly enough, Rev. Sharpton seems to have been distancing himself from Mays and Scott in recent days. He has stated that he has been working with Black Enterprise officials to investigate the claims of sexual harassment at the magazine, while refraining from referring to Mays and Scott.

Mays says the magazine is “not for sale. Ray and Dave own and run The Source along with our partners at Black Enterprise.”

When Benzino resigned from The Source on April 8, he lashed out at executives from Black Enterprise, who invested $17.1 million in the magazine in the spring of 2002. But on April 11, Benzino returned to the magazine, stating that executives from Black Enterprise and the Reverend Sharpton had asked him to return.

Officials from Black Enterprise have not yet spoken to the press.

For longtime watchers of hip-hop journalism, this might be the most interesting part of the interview:

Dave Mays: We’ve criticized a lot of the journalists out there because we feel that they’re not professional. We feel that they don’t know how to separate their personal feelings from their job. We feel that they don’t exercise responsibility. We feel that many of them don’t really respect nor understand the culture and that it makes it very hard to report on the culture when you don’t really respect it and you’re not really a part of it and you don’t understand it. There’s a lot of people that pose and act and pretend like they know these things because they want a job or because they have some other agenda. They’re an artist; they’re a rapper who hasn’t been able to get a deal so they decide to go into writing because they think they might be able to get a record deal that way. I mean these are the types of people that we’ve talked about and that there’s been a lot of these type of people in the Hip-Hop journalist industry or community. And we’ve been critical of those people and we try to keep those type of people out of our company and recruit and develop the type of executives and editors that can sort of follow the, what I said earlier, the guideline and design for how to run a hip hop magazine. Do you think this same argument can be made of Benzino? That he’s in a magazine because he wants to become a rapper?

Dave Mays: Nope. Do you think that’s too closely together though? His music and the magazine? Certainly with the like advertising his albums within The Source?

Dave Mays: Nope. What would be the problem with advertising his albums? I mean we have ad space he has products or we have products, we promote The Source Awards in our magazine; we run ads for that. That’s another product we have that’s not The Source Magazine and we run ads for that. Right.

Dave Mays: That’s what advertisements are for. Right but he gets very prominent ads.

Dave Mays: It’s his magazine. So does The Source Awards get very prominent ads, so does The Source ring tone business and so does The Source hip hop albums get great placement, a lot of placement. Have you noticed that? We’re in the business of tooling. We have advertising pages that are used to promote product. Some are what we are paid for by companies to promote those products on those pages; some of those pages we use to promote our own products. That’s the business. Do you understand how people see it as a conflict of interest?

Dave Mays: I understand that people are confused and people are being misled to have a misperception of things which we talked about earlier about people who want to continue to try and just bring up the same thing over and over again for years as this big thing as the big problem and the big criticism of The Source or Ray and Dave. It’s the same thing. Reggie Dennis and his buddies said these things in 1994 and they keep getting said by everyone from Kim Osorio in 2005 on down. It’s the same thing. And so you don’t see that as a problem? Coming from different people over a different span of time?

Dave Mays: All disgruntled people that have gone on and done nothing. Again I let the people decide, I let the facts speak for themselves on that.

posted by @ 6:03 pm | 8 Comments

Friday, April 29th, 2005

I Predict A RIOT

Shit’s building…things are no longer very sensible.

In the meantime, here are some great pieces of context:

+ The homie Jay Smooth interviews Kim Osorio and Michelle Joyce’s lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, here. He defended Abner Louima. Here he is:

It’s important to understand that the public has only heard about Kim and Michelle, but there are many others. I’ve been contacted by a bunch of others who want to come forward and join this suit. I have women calling me late at night leaving messages, telling me they want to talk to me and share their story. Many of them have never even met each other, but their accounts are all pretty consistent, the same people and the same acts. I’ll give you one example, a boss cannot tell his subordinate to come with him to a hotel. You cannot put pressure on anyone to do something like that.

+ Another homie Dan Charnas has been unloading a lot of crucial context on the rise of urban radio at his blog. He is particularly well-suited to talk about this stuff. He spent much of the 90s working at Rick Rubin’s side. Check his entries: Part 1 and Part 2.

posted by @ 7:21 am | 1 Comment

Tuesday, April 26th, 2005

Where To Be + What We All Want

OK, for a change…here’s some stuff to enjoy!

+ MINNEAPOLIS: The B-Girl Be Festival at Intermedia Arts. When the women control the cipher, how can it not be dope? For updates, visit MJ’s blog on the daily. Wish I was there! Going on NOW through JUNE 11.

+ SAN FRANCISCO: Pop And Politics throws their first Mash-Up with–what?–Laurence Lessig and DJ Spooky in conversation. Then Spooky will speak with his hands. Plus it’s a benefit for one of the best sites on the web. MAY 3.

+ MIDDLETOWN, CT: Brett Cook-Dizney’s amazing Meditations exhibition is up at Wesleyan University’s Zilkha Gallery. NOW through MAY 22.

+ YOUR LOCAL RECORD STORE: Cause Lyrics Born is on the shelves. Music and info at Quannum.

+ SANTA BARBARA: Next week, your boy! MAY 3.

+ LONDON: Simon Reynolds meets Jon King, while promoting his new book Rip It Up And Start Again. Sparks fly! TONIGHT. Speaking of which…

BONUS WORDZ: Your boy takes on the return of Gang of Four! Kim had to cut for length, so here’s the directors’ edit, with gratuitous link action…

War, bad faith, gender trouble, rock in crisis: The Gang of Four are back at just the right moment.
By Jeff Chang

Jon King is dressed like he just walked in from a panini-bread lunch at some Market Street shop after a market-plunging morning on the Pacific Stock Exchange—blue button-down, smart white slacks. He’s reciting a British supermarket ad campaign: “The change will do you good. I always knew it would.” Clearly, he is agitated.

The stage light comes up, revealing Dave Allen and Hugo Burnham pounding out a throbbing beat. Andy Gill rips at his guitar, spinning out a run of agitated chords as if he was Wire’s B.C. Gilbert interpreting the JB’s Jimmy Nolen. “Sometimes I’m thinking that I love you”, King snarls. “But I know it’s only lust.” Now he twists like a stockbroker stumbling drunken out of a Broadway peepshow. This is a 25-year old video, and there can be no doubt that an aspiring guitar hero or heroine is studying this clip somewhere.

It’s been 24 years since the original lineup of Gang of Four played together on the same stage, and the timing could not be better for them to return to the same stage. Rock, having weathered an identity crisis over the past decade—bucked down into an inferiority complex by hip-hop and dance music, drawn into the fashionable but dead-end revivalism of the Strokes and White Stripes, tucked away into insular post-rock, nu-metal, and emo scenes—has got its groove back by hugging up on its postpunk past. It’s a great way to nod sideways to black music, to acknowledge three intervening decades of race, gender, and identity critique, and, most importantly, to remember how to rock the fuck out.

With John Lydon disappeared, Ari Up still high in the Rasta hills, and Joe Strummer left to be repped only by a growing shelf of books, where better to start the neo-new wave revival than with Go4? Their DNA runs wild through two of the best bands of the moment—Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand—as well as pretenders like the Rapture, the Futureheads, and Radio 4. Working with a big bottom borrowed from Burnham and Allen, using moves stolen from King and Gill, these groups are only the most literal-minded of Go4 enthusiasts.

“Gang of Four was absolutely essential to pioneering independent label bands of the 80s like Mission of Burma, the Minutemen, Big Black and Fugazi,” says Michael Azerrad, author of Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 and the liner notes for the new Rhino reissue of Entertainment! “For people who not only wanted to make a new kind of music but also think and feel in ways not imagined or permitted by rock’s old guard, Gang of Four was a godsend. Also, it allowed people who couldn’t dance to appreciate James Brown.”

Meeting on the campus of the University of Leeds in punk’s Year Zero, King and Gill were soon running the school’s film society while studying fine arts and Situationism. They could be comfortable in all-night bull sessions about “complicity”, “overdetermination”, and “totalities”. Their lyrics were like a critical theory seminar, which only then was beginning to become the rage on university campuses. They packed songs with aphorisms that triangulated McLuhan, Marx, and Mao.

Simon Reynolds, whose new book Rip It Up And Start Again was recently released in the UK and will arrive here in February 2006, notes that postpunk emerged from a polarized political and intellectual climate not unlike the current North American blue-red divide. Thatcher’s Tories and the racist, ultrarightist National Front and British Movement were gaining ground. At the same time, cultural studies pioneers like Dick Hebdige and Paul Willis were discovering new forms of praxis, while their students joined Trotskyist, anarchist, feminist and Marxist organizations. Reynolds says, “Thinking, talking, singing songs about these kinds of things would have been considered a very consequential activity, a form of resistance. Performing at Rock Against Racism benefit gigs or Anti-Nazi League festivals and tours was de rigeur for postpunk bands.

“In some ways I see the whole postpunk era as a gigantic riposte to the Rolling Stones “It’s Only Rock’n’Roll”—the resignation and underachievement represented by the cop-out sentiment of that song, which basically kissed the Sixties good-bye. Basically insisting, no, it’s not just good times music, it can be a vessel for all this weightier stuff,” he adds. “Gang of Four would have been in the vanguard of that move to see how much substance rock could carry and still be rock.”

Certainly Go4’s lyrics read well as text. *Solid Gold’s* “Paralysed” is still stunning, interlocking haikus on late capitalism’s desperately emasculating effects. One of their best songs was called “Why Theory?” Songs like “Damaged Goods”, “Ether”, or “Anthrax” carried on dramatic internal dialogues; figuratively and literally, they read like theater.

But the music can’t be separated from the text. Most rockcrits focused on Andy Gill’s guitar, and for good reason. Like some pomo Robert Johnson at the crossroads, he brought together two kinds of rock futurism: Jimi Hendrix’s explosive caterwaul with Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle’s stinging attack. Zipping from horizontal buzzdrones to vertical wails almost like a turntablist, Gill’s is the sound every post-postpunker will sell his soul for at the intersection.

Yet all too little has been written about the herky-jerky beat-throb precision of Allen and Burnham. The working-class Allen came to the group by responding to ad that read: “fast rivvum & blues band requires fast rivvum & blues bass player”. Burnham, a close college friend who had marched with King and Gill in rallies against the National Front, became the funkiest postpunk drummer next to the Clash’s Topper Headon and 23 Skidoo’s Alex Turnbull.

The band proceeded from the pub-rock anti-war singalong of “Armalite Rifle” to building-block reggae not far from The Clash’s distillation of Lee Scratch Perry’s “Police And Thieves” to what they came to call “perverted disco” and “angular, metallic, white sexless funk”. “I’ve always loved music which has space in it and has room,” Gill told Perfect Sound Forever’s Jason Gross. By 1979’s classic *Entertainment*, they had attained an astounding range. “Not Great Men” offered dub logic—sounds attaching then dropping out, the sum and the difference both bringing the tension to a boiling point. On *Solid Gold*, they brought in American funk producer Jimmy Douglass (Slave, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Black Heat), who helped sharpen the band’s increasingly nuanced rhythmic attack, the fragile “Paralyzed” on one end, and the blasting “If I Could Keep It For Myself” on the other. Hedrush’s Tahir later pitched up “A Hole in the Wallet” and flipped it for the Roots’ Phrenology magnum opus, “Water” (MCA, 2002).

The *Another Day/Another Dollar* EP tossed up as unlikely an anthem ever released by a major label, the rude and proud “To Hell With Poverty”. But by the end of *Songs Of The Free*, by which time Allen had left, there was a sense that the band that had once summed up “What We All Want” was now like Chic after *Risque*, no longer knowing what it wanted. The album opened with three songs exploring more melodic territory—”Call Me Up”, the Dance Fever crossover hit “I Love A Man In Uniform”, and “We Live As We Dream, Alone”—while pointing toward an increasing Depeche Mode-ification.

1983’s *Hard* and 1991’s *Mall* were tremendous disappointments. 1995’s *Shrinkwrapped* marked only a partial return to form. With Burnham’s departure after *Songs Of The Free* (Allen had left after *Sold Gold*), the worst of the flaccid, derivative sound was epitomized by *Mall*’s bloodless cover of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “Soul Rebel”. This was music that might be piped into the elevators rising up to luxury hotel suites, far from what the Delta 5’s Ros Allen once called the “spontaneous amateurism” of the orginal Leeds street scene.

Yet *Songs of The Free’s* “The History of the World” and “Of The Instant” also revealed that King and Gill’s worldview had cohered. To their feminist-influenced dissection of masculinity, they had developed a biting, even prophetic critique of corporate globalization and neoliberalism. This made Go4’s failure more than musical: just play *Mall*’s “F.M.U.S.A.”, a sharp critique of race, gender, and imperialism set among Vietnam’s brothels that told a story more coherent and haunting than the Clash’s “Straight To Hell” but had the sonic impact of a wet towel, next to 2 Live Crew’s 1989 cut, “Me So Horny”. In some ways, the fate of Go4 paralleled the destiny of the radical intellectuals of the late 70s struggling to adapt in the 21st Century, confined to a small audience by their inability to continue to master the medium for their message.

So Go4’s return—and judging by their setlists, they seem to focusing largely on their pre-83 music—occasions a kind of nostalgia for leftist certainty. They had emerged in the context of a street-level feminism and the Rock Against Racism movement, an “identity politics” that was vibrant, funny, dangerous, confrontational, never scurrred. The evidence was in the indie music of Delta 5, Essential Logic, the Au Pairs, Kleenex/Lilliput, the Beakers, and the Slits. As late as 1982, Go4’s “I Love A Man In Uniform”—with its easy dismissal of big-dick imperialism: “You must be joking, oh man, you must be joking!”—was banned from the BBC when Great Britain launched its Grenada-of-my-own adventure in the Falklands. Over a low stuttering guitar, King finally spit out the stakes on “Of The Instant”: “Who owns what you do? Who owns what you use?” The answer seemed despairing, “We, it seems, can own ourselves in imagination.” Perhaps on a hopeful note, they did not take care to add the word “only”.

Go4 imagines they might still have something to say in 2005. Two years ago, Gill produced those other postpunkers waiting to be rediscovered, Killing Joke, on a new version of their 1980 classic, “Wardance”. If “Damaged Goods” was once a song about bad love, it now seems to have Bush-Blair’s bad faith beating in its crooked, racing heart, a neoliberal sneer at Iraq and Afghanistan. Here the British supermarket ad pitch—”You know the change will do you good!”—becomes a truism of pre-emptive neo-imperialism, King’s lyric bridging Vietnam and Vietnow. Gill’s words are the bitter reprisal—”Open the till, give me the change you said would do me good.” Then there’s the brutal ending that ought to give any good pacifist pause: “I’m kissing you goodbye.”

Greil Marcus once wrote that “Entertainment” was an album that illustrated the young First World collegiate rebel’s process of coming to a very uncomfortable realization. As he deconstructs his world, he realizes he is indeed complicit with the forces that oppress him and the people he loves. Through his very consuming pleasures, he feeds the capitalist machine that slowly alienates and kills him. Certainly war and globalization—especially as seen in the restless daily spectacle of monopoly media—have made Go4’s insights more relevant than ever.

But it also feels like there is more of a sense of hopelessness than there was in 1980, that the change that could do real good is so far away. By now we also know that the responses to the bitter knowledge can often be less than liberating: hipster irony as protection or shield, Napoleon Dynamite-like retreats toward a lost innocence. Jon Savage asked in his liner notes to the Go4 anthology, *100 Flowers Bloom*: “Could you imagine a contemporary major-label rock group recording a song as critical and vulnerable as ‘Paralysed’?” Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, all you aspiring guitar heroes, the question is yours: could you?

posted by @ 7:18 am | 5 Comments

Monday, April 25th, 2005

PETITION: Stop Sexual Discrimination at The Source

Hey folks, if you’re as pissed off as Joan Morgan, Elizabeth Mendez Berry, and I are, please go sign here now.

Here’s the full text of the petition:

To: David Mays, Raymond “Benzino” Scott, Al Sharpton


After two top female executives at The Source magazine filed a sexual harassment suit against their former employer on Monday, April 11, 2005, the co-owners of The Source, David Mays and Raymond “Benzino” Scott, both responded (on two separate occasions) by impugning the sexual reputation of one of the two plaintiffs, Kim Osorio, the former editor-in-chief of the magazine.

In an April 11th statement reported by, David Mays said:

“It is a fact that Ms. Osorio had sexual relations with a number of high profile rap artists during her employment as editor-in-chief.”

The following day, Benzino was interviewed, also by, and said,

“[Kim Osorio is] screaming sexual discrimination. What we’re gonna do is counter sue her because that’s totally false because especially when we have record of—we have proof of her having many sexual relations with a lot of the artists that she was actually interviewing a lot. And we will counter sue her for defamation of character and then after that, we’ll just let the courts decide it.”


1. We condemn David Mays’ and Benzino’s response to the suit. The notion that Osorio’s sexual history (real or imagined) has any bearing on whether or not her claims are legitimate is ludicrous. Michelle Joyce and Kim Osorio’s claims will be evaluated by the courts, but the responses from the Harvard-educated Mays and the self-appointed community leader Benzino certainly seem to indicate that the top staff at The Source condone and reinforce a climate of discrimination against women. Basically, their argument boils down to the classic “She’s promiscuous, so she couldn’t have been sexually harassed,” so the responsibility for the harassment lies with its victim, as opposed to the harasser.

2. While we understand that the music industry is rife with little-discussed sexual perks, we hold journalists to a higher standard. Female journalists in particular have long understood that sexual relations with subject matter undermine any attempts at objectivity, clearly compromise the integrity of the magazine, blur the line between professionalism and personal pleasure and reinforce the sexist stereotype that women write about hip hop only to sleep with rappers. We in no way condone such behavior. That said, we are equally aware that Benzino’s and Mays’ accusations against Osorio are a calculated attempt to obscure the issue at hand: Does The Source engender a climate of harassment that makes it difficult if not impossible for its female employees to do their jobs without feeling demeaned, devalued or threatened?

3. In The Source and other magazines, women of color are only valued as available sexual objects, a relationship that clearly goes back to slavery and imperialism. Yet they are expected to stay loyal and quiet about sexism and injustice in their own house, and when they choose to raise the issue in public, they are again reduced to sexual objects. We are disgusted at the fact that while Mays and Benzino and other community leaders claim to be concerned about injustice, they are clearly exploiting racist and racially divisive stereotypes of women of color.

4. We call on the so-called community leaders who allegedly asked Benzino to return to The Source after he had resigned Friday, April 8, to take a stand against the sexism of both Benzino and Mays. After he put out a press release on April 8, stating that he had stepped down from The Source, Benzino recanted on Monday, April 11, announcing his return. According to the latter release, “Reverend Al Sharpton, executives from Black Enterprise, David Mays, and others insisted he retain his position for the good of the cause.” We are deeply concerned that a community leader like Sharpton, who professes to be seeking a more humane hip hop industry, would align himself with a magazine that so clearly ignores the humanity of women. We urge him to respect the concerns of men and women equally, and to use this opportunity to examine the working conditions of The Source specifically, and the sexism that women who work in music journalism and in the music industry experience on a daily basis.


The Undersigned

posted by @ 12:49 pm | 9 Comments

Monday, April 25th, 2005

New Prison Stats: Nearly 1000 New Individuals Incarcerated Every Week

From a press release by the Justice Policy Institute:

According to data to be released by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) this Sunday, the number of individuals incarcerated in jails and prisons grew by 48,452 between midyear 2003 to 2004. Driven largely by growing federal and state prison populations, and huge increases in jail populations during the past 4 years, BJS reports the incarcerated population grew by 932 people each week.

Despite crime being in decline for over a decade, these numbers show a persistent rise in prison population, and push the US’s rate of incarceration to a startling 726 per 100,000-maintaining the US status as the world’s leading incarcerator (*England-142, *China-118, *France-91, *Japan-58, *Nigeria-31—*Incarceration rates per 100,000 citizens).

“Unless we promote alternatives to prison, the nation will continue to lead the world in imprisonment,” says Jason Ziedenberg, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute. “While the numbers of incarcerated people continue to rise, some legislators are realizing that by removing the barriers to housing and jobs that formerly incarcerated individuals face when re-entering their communities, we can improve public safety, cut corrections costs, and rebuild communities.”

Prisoners and Jail Inmates at Mid-Year 2004 shows that between mid-year 2003 and 2004, the jail population grew by 3.3%, the state prison population by 1.3%, and the federal prison population by 6.3%. The increase in the federal population is unnerving to some since Congress is currently considering HR 1528, legislation that could drastically increase the federal prison population even more.

+ The last minute of this video is one of the most shocking videos I’ve ever seen. This 5-year old kindergartener was handcuffed and arrested for misbehaving. It’s a tragic reminder of the anti-rehabilitative attitude towards youth of color that drives the politics of containment.

posted by @ 9:20 am | 18 Comments

Monday, April 25th, 2005 Letter to Source Advertisers

Jay Smooth has posted the aforementioned letter to The Source‘s advertisers:

“Dear Valued Client and Marketing Partner,

I’m writing to you to discuss the current status of The Source Magazine’s circulation, as well as to share with you some exciting developments that are taking place under the banner of The Source – the most widely-recognized and well-respected brand name in Hip-Hop throughout the world. The year 2005 will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most pivotal years in the history of The Source…

During the last two years, I have been working hard to lay down the building blocks that will secure the future of The Source as a powerful global media and entertainment company. Check a few of the stats: the November 2004 broadcast of The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards was a smash, ranking as BET’s sixth highest-rated show ever; in addition, The Source Awards Weekend is now the largest and most exciting annual live event gathering of Hip-Hop fans, attracting over 75,000 people to Miami last October; The Source Hip-Hop Hits compilation album series was expanded with the release of both Volumes 8 and 9 last year through our own independent record company, The Source Music; the launch of The Source Mobile Channel was executed and has resulted in the sale of over 1 million ringtones in less than 5 months.

With all of the time and energy that was expended building up our brand through these new channels, there was one unfortunate mishap that affected our core business at The Source Magazine. During our move to new office space late last year, we lost important subscription files, including payment records, which has created a pool of approximately 80,000 subscribers to The Source that we cannot qualify as ‘paid’ under ABC guidelines. Given the magazine circulation scandals that have plagued this industry over the past couple of years, The Source recently met with ABC and decided to voluntarily and temporarily suspend itself from ABC auditing of our paid circulation, rather than attempting to mask this problem with the smoke and mirrors typically used by many magazine publishers to enhance the appearance of their subscription file. The bottom line is that we will be unable to provide an audited statement of our paid circulation for the last 6 months of 2004. ABC will be conducting a reinstatement audit to cover the period of January – June 2005, and will issue its normal publisher’s statement for this period in the month of August 2005.

…We are providing our clients with a guaranteed circulation of 400,000 for the January – June 2005 period, which will consist of a monthly average of approximately 280,000 paid single copies and 50,000 paid subscription copies, along with the 80,000 controlled subscriber copies. As we renew and convert this affected pool, and implement a number of new and innovative subscription acquisition methods, we are guaranteeing delivery of a fully qualified paid and audited circulation of at least 415,000 for the second half of 2004…”

+ interviews former COO (that’s the dude overseeing circ, among many other things) Jeremy “J-Mill” Miller, who has just launched Down Magazine.

+ Finally, Chuck D sets everyone straight on him and Air America:

“No, I didn’t leave Air America nor did I get fired. I’ll be doing a weekly show starting in May – sometimes recorded, at other times rolling live. Stop the blogs now saying I got canned in favor of Jerry Springer…”

posted by @ 7:13 am | 2 Comments

Friday, April 22nd, 2005

New York Post: The Source Has Defaulted on Multi-Million Dollar Loan

From Keith Kelley in the New York Post:

“In the wake of a messy sexual harassment lawsuit, hip-hop magazine The Source is wrestling with a host of financial, advertising and circulation woes, sources told The Post.

In recent months, insiders said The Source has defaulted on a multi-million bank loan and withdrawn from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the chief auditor for circulation in the industry.”

The Source has defaulted on a $20 million loan, and withdrawn from the Audit Bureau, which is the independent circ-verification company that allows a magazine to establish its “guaranteed rate base”, the fundamental number used to price advertising.

More bad numbers:

“Last year, it was down 11.3 percent in pages to 1,040.62 and this year it appears likely to fall below the magical 1,000 page barrier.

The magazine’s ad revenues were down 13.9 percent to $5,972,905 and its ad pages are down 16.1 percent to 175.33.”

Its distributor is now advancing money to the magazine.

An insider tells me this is the other shoe dropping, re: our earlier discussion on the importance of The Source’s circulation base. Speculation that a “takeover” bid may be in process has been rampant over the past week.

Meanwhile, Benzino is, in his own words, “looking out over the bay and eating stone crabs.” The article concludes:

David Mays, the chairman, did not return calls.

“He did not return calls because he said you’re irrelevant,” said Scott. “He told me to call you back. Our personal finances are none of your business.”

posted by @ 11:00 am | 3 Comments

Friday, April 22nd, 2005

Jeans and Hip-Hop

“Calvin Klein’s no friend of mine. Don’t want nobody’s name on my behind.”

Back from Boulder, no thanks to America West, and in the saddle. This piece, “Who Pays $600 for Jeans?”, in yesterday’s New York Times is some of the best reporting on hip-hop’s impact on style in a long time. Trebay–it should be noted–has probably been the best reporter period on style and hip-hop since the early 80s.

In the last half of my book, I was talking a lot about the shift in the culture industry from mainstream to niche, and what that has had to do with making hip-hop a central global commodity. The rise of $600 jeans is a parallel, and not surprising, marker of that shift.

It’s not that there haven’t always been $600 jeans, it’s that they’re more in demand than ever. Trebay doesn’t mention this, but when was the last time this trend happened? When a niche lifestyle–disco–went mainstream about 20 years ago. The difference these days, and why this is a trend that won’t go away, is that now the niches are the mainstream.

posted by @ 6:41 am | 0 Comments

Tuesday, April 19th, 2005

Reginald C. Dennis on The Source

Were you looking for Jay Smooth’s part 2 of the history of The Source? Then buckle up, because former Music Editor Reginald C. Dennis has decided to reveal the whole thing at It’s a three-parter on the early days of the magazine through the ’94 blowout, up top his thoughts on the current day. Read it. Then pick up your jaw and put it back in your face.

+ Part 1.

+ Part 2.

+ Part 3.

posted by @ 6:48 am | 5 Comments

Tuesday, April 19th, 2005

West Coast Peace Treaty

From Davey D’s coverage of the West Coast Unity Summit (soundclips available via The Poetess, and a fuller article via

What I have noticed are dozens of stories all over the place eargerly reporting that Snoop had a concert canceled by Harvard who are objecting to his lyrical content. I guess when it comes down to it, we as a country have become addicted to drama…

In fact when talking to reporters about the west coast unifying and coming together, many seemed skeptical as if they didn’t want this to actually happen. It’s as if they want beef and disunity to continue…


As a sidenote, it’s great to see that The Game has stepped up on multiple levels.

posted by @ 5:55 am | 0 Comments

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