BET's ‘The Business of Hip Hop’ Explores the Journey of Kim Osorio

Journalist and producer Kim Osorio climbed the masthead to make her mark on hip hop History

Kim Osorio grew up with a front row seat as hip hop began to take over the radio with its hypnotic beats and rhymes. First studying the lyrics of The Treacherous Three and The Sugar Hill Gang, Osorio dissected the lyrical messages from master storytellers as a young girl growing up in the Bronx.

“That’s what spoke to me very early on in hip hop,” Osorio told BET. And while she eventually went to law school, it was her passion for the music she grew up on that would ultimately lead her to blaze a trail to the top of the masthead of hip hop’s most influential publication.

After working at BMG and Profile Records, Osorio began her freelance writing career for magazines like Black Beat and Right On and conducting interviews for newspapers. She started writing for The Source magazine in 1998, first as a freelancer and then, in 2000 as the associate music editor. Long considered the undisputed bible of hip hop, the magazine was notorious for its five-mic rating system for album releases that could make or break rappers’ careers. “It was very different for me to be in the music department at The Source because it was very male dominated,” Osorio told BET.

While she enjoyed working in the music department, Osorio always had the goal of reaching the top of the masthead. “There had never been a girl who had been the editor in chief of The Source magazine, so that was a huge accomplishment for me.” After taking the reins in a male-dominated field, she produced the highest selling issue in the publication’s history.

Throughout her journalism career, Osorio has interviewed and written cover stories on music legends including Jay-Z, Drake, LL Cool J, Rick Ross, The Wu-Tang Clan, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, and more.

In 2008, Osorio released Straight From The Source: An Exposé from the Former Editor in Chief of the Hip-Hop Bible, detailing the triumphs and tribulations she experienced while working at the magazine.

And as hip hop continued to expand, Osorio kept her finger on the pulse of the culture and transitioned into digital media, producing several reality TV series and awards shows such as Love and Hip Hop, Black Ink Crew: Chicago, Growing Up Hip Hop, Hustle In Brooklyn, and Hustle & Soul.

While her imprint on hip hop culture is significant, Osorio wants to inspire people to pursue their dreams on their own terms. “I want my legacy to be showing people how much value they have in themselves.”

To learn more about Kim Osorio and other influencers of the culture, tune into BET’s Brands, Bread, and Brilliance documentary.

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