Dave Mays has been hated on a great deal ever since The Source magazine took off back in the early 90s. It was nearing the end of the ‘Black Power’ phase of Hip-Hop music and here comes this white guy with a highly successful Hip-Hop publication.
Then there were the slew of artists who did not like the way albums were graded in the magazines well read rating system. And of course there’s Mr. Mays’ relationship with former Almighty RSO/Made Men leader Ray Benzino.
The Roxbury, Massachusetts reared man of Puerto Rican descent merged with a middle class Jewish cat and the rest was history. Though Benzino is not constantly in the press, when he is it tends to make waves. He tends to rub some folks the wrong way. But Mays is quick to come to the defense of his brother from another mother.
“First of all, anyone who is critical of him I can guarantee has never met him or had a conversation with him,” Mays began. “Any person who comes across with the opinion you’ve just shared has never met the man. It would be hard for anyone to disagree with me when I say any person that judges someone that they have never spoken to or have never met is a fool. If people are going to make judgments based upon things they read in the media, I will reiterate, they are foolish.”
Dave Mays & Ray Benzino
People have been making snap decisions about things that they’ve read in the media since the beginning of printed media. The Source magazine has swayed many impressionable Hip-Hoppers with its sometimes seemingly biased stances on politics, the music industry and artists against which the publication may have allegedly had an ax to grind. So, for Mr. Mays to then speak down upon an individual that makes a decision based information published in a non-Mays/Benzino publication is a curious one to say the least. Is he calling some of his former readership fools? That’s likely not the case, but one could read that between the lines. But Mays’ says his homeboy is a genius and is, in fact, the brain trust of all their combined endeavors.
“Here’s what I can say and I’ll say it to the day I die, the man is a genius, he’s brilliant and he’s been a critical person to our generation. He and I are going to accomplish things beyond anyone’s imagination over the next 20 years. It’s very ignorant for people from the outside to look at us and see the white guy from Harvard and assume (I’m) the brains of the operation. I think it’s a little sad and it speaks to the issue of stereotypes and race and even the conflict within the African-American community regarding their own race and identities. The success that I’ve had with The Source and with Hip-Hop Weekly and Monsta, it’s because of him. He’s the driving force, he’s the visionary, he’s the strategist.”
That is certainly news to us. In the past Benzino has seemingly come off as a bit of a loose cannon in his encounters with some of the most beloved rap artists while at the Source, but Mays says he’s actually a real laid back, almost reclusive type of person. In essence, Benzino may not talk a whole lot, but when he does speak it’s with fire and passion. Characteristics that may bruise the oft-times swelled egos that dwell in the Hip-Hop industry.
“He and I are all about change,” added Mays. “Look what we’ve done over the past 20 years. He and I have given careers to and empowered hundreds of people. Hundreds of people have careers because of what we’ve been able to accomplish. Their lives have been enriched because of us. There’s many, many things that we have done for this culture and that’s nothing compared to the things that we’re going to do. ”
That road to the future Mays spoke of? The first brick on that road was laid with the introduction of Hip-Hop Weekly.
“During our time of struggle to maintain control of the Source, we knew that we might lose. We did decide we would start a new magazine if that happened, but we didn’t know what and that’s how the idea was initially formulated for Hip-Hop Weekly. We were ousted in January of 2006 and in March of 2006 Benzino called me and woke me up in the middle of the night and was like ‘Dave, I’ve got it!’ He explained to me the concept, I agreed. I stayed up until 6 o’clock in the morning running business models and projections for it and came up with a much more efficient way of building a magazine than what we had with The Source. The same thing happened with Monsta, that was Ray’s idea. He came up with the concept a few months ago.”
Though the road to the future is already being paved, Mays tells EURweb that there was a brief moment when he and Benzino considered bailing The Source out of its continued financial situation, but that fell through. Lucky for Dave, Benzino had another trick up his sleeve.
“A few months ago, when The Source was in the middle of bankruptcy, an attempt was made to try and regain control of it, but that didn’t happen so we moved forward with the idea for Monsta. We love Hip-Hop Weekly, but Monsta is truly where are heart is at. He came up with the name and general concept for it and we’ve been putting it together ever since.”
As anyone in the magazine publishing industry can tell you, the life of a publisher is tenuous filled with the highs of great weekly circulation numbers, to the lows of low advertising revenue. Our Lee Bailey asked Mays, with the Internet giving readers information instantly, how can a print publication hope to compete?
“The internet is a monstrous thing and it is reshaping the world as we know it. There’s a lot of hysteria going on and people get very caught up in this hysteria and get carried away with things. Paper goods and printed materials will be around, certainly, for our life times. I don’t see them disappearing. They’re changing. Just as everything else is changing. What you have is a snuffing out. Print media has more competition than it had in the past so the weaker magazines are going under. By the same token you can go to the newsstand now and pick up GQ magazine and see a big, healthy, 300 page magazine sitting out there on that newsstand making a lot of money.”
Money, not the socio-political galvanization of the Hip-Hop youth or the worldview of our favorite MCs, but money is the bottom line with any publication.
“The one category in the print business for the past five years is the celebrity weekly format. There are about 8 magazines: Us Weekly, People, Life & Style, Star Magazine, etc. You go to any supermarket in America and you see those magazines plastered up by the checkout counter. Well, guess what? All of those magazines are selling anywhere from half a million to 2 million copies a week, making tens millions of dollars. They’re all covering the same set of white celebrities. They all ignore the fact that we are a multi-cultural society.”
That’s why Monsta, his new monthly mag and Hip-Hop Weekly have stepped up to kick in the proverbial door of the unclaimed advertising dollars of companies that are dying to market to urban minded readers. That’s money that People, Us Weekly and others of that orientation will never see.
During the mid-90s The Source took some very controversial political stances and sparked the imaginations of many would be Hip-Hop activists. Mays tells EURweb that Monsta will be that vehicle from here on out. Both Hip Hop Weekly and Monsta are on newsstands now.