“When the Unsigned Hype Column in The Source Was Like, Our Only Source of Light…”

The Source Magazine, a.k.a. The Hip Hop Bible, got its start as a couple page long Boston newsletter back in August of ’88. However, the now famous Unsigned Hype segment didn’t debut straight away, if you look back, that section is noticeably absent. It actually wasn’t until almost two years later, in May of ’90 (as far as we know), that demo tapes and black and white photos were suddenly being requested by the now New York City based organization.

The Source, Issue #12 (May 1990)

Looking back it becomes the opposite of a “Where Are They Now?” feature, showcasing where people were then, quickly giving the public an exclusive first look at future names, staples and sometimes even icons, such as J Rock, DMX, DJ Shadow, Mobb Depp, Common, Biggie, Saafir, Agallah, Extra Prolific, Artifacts, Skillz, CNN, J-Live, David Banner, Last Emperor, Rawcotiks, Thirstin Howl III, A.L., Eminem, and Neek the Exotic… among many others. Whether you were just tryin’ to keep with what was current at the time or are into the hindsight of it all, these pages were and are not to be missed. Plus new talent is still put on display in the publication to this day, with them recently championing Action Bronson a few years back (and people like Joell Ortiz and Jay Electronica ten years ago now).

“Smiles every time my face up in The Source.”

So naturally we went through every issue from Unsigned Hype’s inception up until the end of ’98, providing you with over eighty scans from the first decade of The Source’s existence, as well as a few updates, recaps and retrospectives along the way as an added bonus.

Also included is an ad for the never released Unsigned Hype compilation that should’ve appeared on PolyGram around that time (pictured below).

The Source, Issue#110 (November 1998)

Now you gotta remember, sometimes months would go by without ya seein’ that familiar lit fuse in the corner of a column and so those issues without are marked with a N / A in the following list…

Unsigned Hype Artists / Groups

  • (May ’90) Ground Zero
  • (Sum ’90) Soul Kings
  • (Sept ’90) “Unfortunately we didn’t get anything good enough to make it into this month’s issue.”
  • (Oct-Nov ’90) Brothers of the Same Mind
  • (Dec ’90) J Rock
  • (Jan ’91) DMX [the Great]
  • (Feb ’91) All in All
  • (Mar-Apr ’91) Top Quality
  • (May ’91) Shariff Latiff
  • (June ’91) [DJ] Shadow
  • (July ’91) Poetical Prophets [Mobb Deep]
  • (Aug ’91) MC Mechanism & DJ Too Tuff
  • (Sept ’91) Sir Essence Don
  • (Oct ’91) Common [Sense]
  • (Nov ’91) Divine Nation
  • (Dec ’91) D.O.A.
  • (Jan ’92) N / A
  • (Feb ’92) N / A
  • (Mar ’92) The Notorious B-I-G [& The Hitman 50 Grand]
  • (Apr ’92) The B.R.A.T. Crew
  • (May ’92) The Uncanny
  • (June ’92) Legion of D.U.M.E.
  • (July ’92) Puppets of Chaos
  • (Aug ’92) Saafir
  • (Sept ’92) Back 2 Back
  • (Oct ’92) Capital Tax
  • (Nov ’92) Eight Off the Assassin [Agallah]
  • (Dec ’92) Total Pack
  • (Jan ’93) Unsigned Hype Update
  • (Feb ’93) Snupe [Extra Prolific]
  • (Mar ’93) The Red Eye Crew
  • (Apr ’93) Artifacts
  • (May ’93) Fesu
  • (June ’93) N / A
  • (July ’93) Big Ill the Mack
  • (Aug ’93) Dr. Seus
  • (Sept ’93) Fourtie
  • (Oct ’93) N / A
  • (Nov ’93) N / A
  • (Dec ’93) N / A
  • (Jan ’94) N / A
  • (Feb ’94) N / A
  • (Mar ’94) N / A
  • (Apr ’94) Larceny, Inc.
  • (May ’94) N / A
  • (June ’94) Funky Jilz
  • (July ’94) N / A
  • (Aug ’94) [Mad] Skillz
  • (Sept ’94) N / A
  • (Oct ’94) N / A
  • (Nov ’94) Ragabumpkins
  • (Dec ’94) Da GD’z
  • (Jan ’95) N / A
  • (Feb ’95) Mr. Complex
  • (Mar ’95) The Al Brothers
  • (Apr ’95) Poet Starved Bandit
  • (May ’95) N.A.P.
  • (June ’95) T-Max
  • (July ’95) The Jigmasters
  • (Aug ’95) Next Episode
  • (Sept ’95) Systahood
  • (Oct ’95) Capone & Noreaga [CNN]
  • (Nov ’95) J-Live
  • (Dec ’95) Gauge [the Mental Murderah]
  • (Jan ’96) N / A
  • (Feb ’96) C4
  • (Mar ’96) Ground Zero
  • (Apr ’96) Absent Minded
  • (May ’96) Symbolyc Elementz
  • (June ’96) David Banner & Kamikaze [Crooked Lettaz]
  • (July ’96) Characta Assassinz
  • (Aug ’96) Cipher-Complete
  • (Sept ’96) Fierce
  • (Oct ’96) The Oddest Tools
  • (Nov ’96) Agent 106
  • (Dec ’96) [The] Last Emperor
  • (Jan ’97) N / A
  • (Feb ’97) Smash Task
  • (Mar ’97) Rawcotiks
  • (Apr ’97) Kaoz
  • (May ’97) Erase-E
  • (June ’97) Choclair
  • (July ’97) Perverted Dialect
  • (Aug ’97) Thirstin Howl the Third
  • (Sept ’97) Steve
  • (Oct ’97) Shorty Wreck
  • (Nov ’97) A.L.
  • (Dec ’97) Mekolicious
  • (Jan ’98) Unsigned Hype Retrospective [2 Pages]
  • (Feb ’98) N / A
  • (Mar ’98) Eminem
  • (Apr ’98) Neek the Exotic
  • (May ’98) Choclatt
  • (June ’98) Draft Pick
  • (July ’98) Little Buddy
  • (Aug ’98) The Columbians
  • (Sept ’98) No Goodus
  • (Oct ’98) Azphault
  • (Nov ’98) Live Society
  • (Dec ’98) Brooklyn Essence Team
  • (Feb ’02) Eminem Update
  • (Aug ’03) 15th Anniversary Recap [2 Pages]

Download the collection here.

Props to Debonair P, Ho1ogramz, Mark563, Sureshot La Rock, and Vincent Lopez, as well as any and all other blogs providing scans. As always, additional info, corrections, and quality upgrades are appreciated. Peace.

— The Big Sleep

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35 Responses to ““When the Unsigned Hype Column in The Source Was Like, Our Only Source of Light…””

  1. verge tibbs says:

    Really great work! The philaflava TROY forum still puttin in work for the betterment of the dinosaur culture. This will be useful, thanks!

  2. Thanks man, that’s definitely the goal. Shouts to everybody still doin’ their thing. And yeah, I thought that this archive might come in handy in a couple different ways.

  3. Joseph A says:

    Damn this is so dope, as someone that didn’t get to live through the 90s but digs it to the utmost right now, i really really appreciate this, BIG thanks guys!

  4. noz says:


    did any of those juelz draft pick demos ever leak

  5. Thanks for checkin’ it brothers.

    And no, don’t think any Draft Pick demos ever surfaced, at least not to my knowledge.

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    Nice work!!! I know this took alot of time and work and i appreciate the effort and sharing this.


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    Dopeness… History that should never be ignored. I’d like to see a post chronicling every Hip Hop Quotable/Rhyme of the Month, as well.

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