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Hip-Hop News: Eminem and The Source Wounds Both Sides
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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
2/7/2004 10:07:06 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include Eminem.

When The Source magazine first wrote about Eminem six years ago, it published a glowing endorsement heralding the then-unknown rapper as the Next Big Thing.

"One can't help but recognize this rapper of Caucasian persuasion has skills," the magazine gushed in its "Unsigned Hype" column. "This Motor City kid is a one-of-a-kind talent, and he's about to blow past the competition, leaving many melted microphones in the dust."

The Source is still hyping Eminem — but now he's the enemy.

For more than a year, Source co-owners David Mays and Ray "Benzino" Scott have been waging war against their one-time poster boy, attempting to "expose" rap's mainstream face and sales king as a racist interloper corrupting a black art form for the benefit of corporate America.

Late last year, The Source appeared to have its smoking gun — old tapes in which Eminem uses the n-word and derides black women. (In an apology, the rapper said the tapes were made in anger when he was 16 and dumped by a black girl; The Source claims he was in his early 20s when they were made.)

"I believe he was a racist when he made those tapes 10 years ago," Mays said in an interview. "I don't know whether he's changed, because I don't know him, but there's a lot of evidence."

The Source, which touts itself as "the bible of hip-hop," hasn't garnered many converts in its bid to dethrone Eminem. Although it has couched its crusade against Eminem as a bid to save hip-hop, the magazine's critics call it a thinly veiled feud based on the jealousies of Scott, a little-known rapper, and the magazine's attempt to boost its own sales.

"(This is) a whole vendetta against one man, when you put him on the cover before and blew him up, and now I guess it's a bad taste in your mouth, so you want to go back and try and trash the man's career," said rapper Big Boi, one-half of the Grammy-nominated duo OutKast.

Eminem indeed was previously a favorite of The Source: He was the subject of glowing cover stories, and even won a Source Award, the magazine's version of the Grammys.

Yet all of that changed in late 2002, when Scott released the song "Pull Your Skirt Up," criticizing Eminem as a Vanilla Ice (the top-selling early '90s white rapper who was found to have lied about his "ghetto" upbringing) — perhaps the ultimate rap dis. Eminem responded with his own underground dis record, and a feud was born.

Scott would not be interviewed for this article, but Mays says Scott was simply detailing his view that the mainstream media had anointed a white rapper at the expense of black rappers.

"Basically, Benzino, my partner, was the first to really see this process clearly and how serious it was in terms of its evolution, like rock 'n' roll and other kinds of African-American music and culture that were co-opted by corporations with a racial bias and basically stolen from those who created it," Mays says.

And what about their early backing of Eminem? Mays says that was misguided and came at a time when the magazine — like others in hip-hop today, he charges — was more worried about making money than preserving the culture.

"(Benzino) kind of woke me up after he woke up and saw a lot of this stuff more clearly, like, 'Hey, we're a little off-track here. We've got to remember where we came from. We've got to remember the history and the struggle and the culture,'" he says.

Mays may seem to be an unlikely person to talk about the struggle and history of blacks: He's a white graduate of Harvard University, although he talks hip-hop slang and looks the part.

Mays contends other whites are trying to take over the culture — among his targets are MTV, Interscope Records chief Jimmy Iovine and white-owned radio — but says he's respectful of the culture and trying to preserve it for its black creators.

"I think white people in hip-hop have

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