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Dave Mays on How He Launched ‘The Source’ while Attending Harvard

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In the opening clip, The Source magazine’s founder, Dave Mays, discussed his upbringing and entry into Hip Hop. Mays was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and excelled as a student. While he was exposed to Hip Hop during junior high and high school, Mays was much more into the local Go-go genre. After high school, Mays attended Harvard University and — despite the culture shock of going to the Ivy League school — he discovered a fellow student who was also a Hip Hop fan. In 1986, two started a late-night Hip Hop show on Harvard’s college radio station which led Mays to become more involved with the genre. To hear Dave Mays explain why 1986 was such a pivotal year in rap, check out the clip above.

Mays also talked about The Source evolving from a one-page newsletter that he used to produce in order to sell sponsorships for his college radio station. He recalled there being a curious Hip Hop fanbase in the Boston area but there were no major stations that played Black music. Because of this, Boston listeners were unbiased towards rappers from other regions.

After noticing callers would often ask for more information about a rap song or artist, Mays began to expand the newsletter to more pages and eventually co-founded The Source with radio station co-host and schoolmate, John Shecter. Mays talked about Slick Rick appearing on the magazine’s third cover when each issue cost $1.25. Mays also explained how he built relationships with over 1,000 record stores and various record labels before drawing comparisons between Rolling Stone magazine and The Source. To hear more, check out the clip above.

Interview by Shawn Prez
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