What better way for The Source to ring in ’98 with their 100th issue? With LL on the cover holding five golden Mics, the house that Mays & Benzino built was living the life as the industry standard when it came to magazines. Looking back on their 9-plus years covering the music we all enjoy, they provided top 100 lists for the best singles, albums, covers, athletes, etc as they not only celebrated their existence but the culture as well. This was evident in all of the congratulations from labels and artists in the advertising. Not satisfied to just recollect on the past, The Source also looked to the future technology would play in regards to the music and how its influences were making the music a global phenomenon.
However, a group of disgruntled staffers had defected with the sole focus of creating a magazine to knock The Source off its pedestal. Unhappy with Benzino’s increasing influence in the editorial and ratings, they fashioned XXL in The Source’s template. After using ’97 to lay a foundation, XXL started a consistent publication cycle starting with issue #3 in ’98. Double covers and Eye Candy were two of the few things that differentiated to two as XXL scrambled to secure an audience. At least to me XXL also seemed to be better connected to the audience in it’s writing, but perhaps that was just because they used a lot of new writers, but album reviews has always been a weak spot for them.
For the first time, The Source actually had competition for artist profiles and cover. Sure Vibe was around, but they had their own lane and weren’t Hip-Hop specific. At least in ’98 it was the readers who benefited the most as more coverage was given to the genre. Back then the internet was really just getting started and magazines were still king of the hill when it came to access of artists. Fast forward to now and The Source is trying to recover from the wrath of â€˜Zino and XXL is the leader almost by default as magazines are trying to figure out how they fit in when news happens on a daily, not monthly basis.