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FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS ’08: Kim Osorio: Come Clean

[Editor’s Note: With the new year around the corner, XXLmag.com looks back at some of our greatest stories and video features of 2008.]

Kim Osorio has a lot of explaining to do. Rumored flings with rappers, her role in perhaps The Source magazine’s most controversial era, Ray Benzino and David Mays: She addresses it all in her new tell-all book, Straight From The Source: An Expose From The Former Editor-In-Chief Of The Hip-Hop Bible, hitting stands September 9th.

XXLMag.com chopped it up with Osorio to take a look at the making of her book, revisit key moments of her Source tenure and discuss Nas and 50 Cent.

XXLMag.com: Does it feel weird to do an interview with a magazine that used to take shots at you?

Kim Osorio: I don’t think so. I think that I expect that, because it’s part of the game. Just like an artist has to play the game and do interviews with different magazines that are dissing him one month or giving him a bad magazine review and do a story the next month, it’s almost like the same thing. It’s just what you have to do to stay in the game.

XXL: Looking back at your promotion as editor-in-chief, do you think Ray and Dave picked you because they felt they’d be able to control you more than Erik Parker?[Editor’s Note: Parker was also up for the EIC position at The Source that Osorio eventually got.]

KO: That’s a question that has come up before in circles and in conversations amongst me and close peers. I really can’t tell you the answer, because I really don’t know what they were thinking. I think at a certain point, they thought that I was more on the same page as them than he was. And this is really just me speculating…that if they give me the job, I’ll be doing things more in line with their vision.

XXL: Would you say that your termination as editor-in-chief marked the end of The Source as a contending publication?

KO: I mean, that would be a real cocky statement for me to make, but this is rap, so let me go ahead and make it. Yeah, I do feel like that…I think The Source definitely had its glory days and had memorable covers…If you think back to Redman with a tissue in his nose and things like that…I remember as a source reader. When I got to the magazine, it was a different time. But, from a business perspective, I think we were doing the best we had ever done. The September 2002 issue, which I talk about in detail in the book, was the biggest selling issue for a long time. So, I would definitely say it was a high point in The Source’s business. Now, whether or not people look at it from a credibility standpoint, might be a little different because…After I started to get the job and just move up, Benzino’s control over the magazine started to increase.


Osorio and Jay-Z in her EIC days…

XXL: At one point in the book, you became very conflicted and realized that you were as guilty as Mays and Benzino. Why didn’t you just quit?

KO: I think, the job market is definitely hard. A lot of people just say, “Oh, you could have just left and found another job.” But when you’re at that level in your career, it’s hard to go to a different place. And in hip-hop, there weren’t too many places to go. There weren’t a lot of options. And everybody’s vying for those positions that are out there. We had taken a serious stand against those magazines. For me, I had a daughter that I had to think about. I had bills that needed to be paid, so it wasn’t an easy thing to pick up and leave.

XXL: You think some of these rappers may have lied about being with you, or was ‘Zino just making stuff up?

KO: I think that he made it up. The reason I say that is because I know of other things that he made up. In his mind, he always had some sort of sexual connection to people. He would say things to me about other women on the staff and I was like, “I don’t necessarily believe that.” And there were a lot of things that came out in the case that just weren’t true. I think he made it up. A lot of that stuff just didn’t make sense. It would just come out the clear blue sky. He’d be like, “You’re dealing with so and so” and I be like, “I haven’t even met that person.”

XXL: 50 already responded to your excerpts being leaked. Did Nas say anything?

KO: No. I don’t think he’s going to respond, because they’re two different individuals and for me to talk about my story, that’s just what it is. I’m not telling you… I’m not speaking about what they feel. I can’t give you their story, I can only give you mine and what I’ve been through. And they happened to be there.

XXL: Care to respond to 50’s jabs? [Editor’s Note: 50 joked about Osorio becoming famous for “licking his balls” in response to excerpts from her book leaking.]

KO: I’ve seen that movie play out before, so I’m not gonna respond to him. I’m not gonna say anything, cause I’m not gonna get into a rap beef with him. Come on! He’ll take a lollipop out of a baby’s mouth. I’m not trying to say anything negative. He knows what he said ain’t true. He needs to stop. But it’s all good.

XXL: You chose to refer to your intimate relationship with 50 and Nas, but you never went into great detail. Why is that?

KO: I think this is not that type of book. I talk about the relationships that I had with them in a couple of chapters, but there’s 30 chapters in the book, so for people to single that out without knowing what the story is, it’s frustrating, cause that’s not what I’m doing with this book. I’m coming clean things I went through and things that I did, relationships that I had before I even had the editor-in-chief job, cause I didn’t have that title. I didn’t have that title when I was dating them. It’s just funny to me.

XXL: Did you get pressured from the publisher to make the book juicier?

KO: I got pressured to make it a better book, not necessarily to give details of what may have happened between the sheets, but just to paint a picture of what my life was like back then. Whether it involved these individuals at The Source and everything that I went through…You definitely get pushed to do more. And that’s part of a writing process. I think that’s a good thing, cause it gives people a look into who you are as an individual.

XXL: Are you working on any other books?

KO: I have another project coming. I don’t wanna talk about the specifics, because I’m not really allowed , because it’s not finalized yet. But it’s an incredible story. And I’m into telling stories. That’s why I wanted to tell mine, cause I thought it was an important story for hip-hop and for people to understand, especially with the theme of that story being the double standard. The next story, the theme in that one is loyalty. And I would say it’s a big story in hip-hop that people wanna know about. And it’s not about me.

XXL: You came out with your book, but there’s possibly a lot more writers/editors who have relationship with artists. How frequent do you think it is?

KO: I think it’s a lot more frequent than people are willing to admit. It amazes me how clueless some people try to act…As if they know what goes on behind-the-scenes. When you’re working in the industry, it starts to consume you. When you’re writing about it, it’s the same thing. You’re part of the culture. Things happen. I think people meet people on a daily basis and things happen and when you’re single, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Now, whether people wanna judge and criminalize women–and I say women because the same does not apply to men in this industry. I think that’s unfair and I think that’s unjust. And that’s part of the reason why I decided to write this book. I wanted to be able to tell my story and to be able to show women that I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done. It is what it is and it shouldn’t be something that women are afraid of. If they dated somebody whether it be an artist, an executive, or another writer, it’s just life. –Carl Chery


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