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How a Few Great Hip-Hop Journalists Won in Hollywood

Some of the genre’s best and brightest come together to talk about why they made the transition from rap magazines to TV and movies—and how

Aliya S. King
Published in
14 min readFeb 9, 2021

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It’s easy enough to pinpoint the birth of hip-hop: August 11, 1973, when Kool Herc threw that pivotal back-to-school party for his sister at 1520 Sedgwick Ave. in the Bronx. Doing the same for dedicated hip-hop journalism, though, proves tougher. What we do know is that college student David Mays started The Source as a one-pager at Harvard University in 1988. By 1993, Time Inc. had launched Vibe; XXL would follow in 1997. While other titles like Rap Pages, Rap Sheet, Ozone, Murder Dog, and more would surface over the years, that Vibe/Source/XXL triumvirate would own newsstands throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s.

Around that time, the star writers at these magazines began to get itchy. They’d written cover stories and pivotal features about hip-hop’s biggest names, from Biggie and Pac to Nas and Eminem. What was next? Los Angeles began to beckon; the film and television industry offered more creative freedom, more money, and less drama.

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Aliya S. King
LEVEL
Writer for

Aliya S. King is an author, freelance writer and editor.