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Magazine Editor Spreads The Gospel Of Rap

April 9, 2002By Darryl E. They gleam as they purposefully stride by, gold ringing their fingers, circling their necks, sheathing their teeth.

What appears a homogeneous group of extras assembled for a Snoop Dogg video outside the House of Blues on a recent Friday night is actually two distinct types of people. There are those who, knowing the rapper Nas was coming to town, ordered tickets in advance and now patiently wait to pass through the velvet ropes. Then, there are the Johnny come latelies, who minutes ago ran smack into a sold out sign at the box office.

Into this mix walks a young woman with a shock of hair red as Beaujolais, wearing jeans, funky sandals and a white T shirt knotted at her midriff. Her T shirt reads in black letters: 1st Annual Orlando Source Awards.

Just then, a tall twentysomething in a crocheted Rasta cap notices her T shirt and sidewinds over. His name is Prime Facta, he tells her. He raps. She nods. Then, lowering her knapsack, she retrieves a magazine and a business card.

The magazine is Orlando Source; the name on the calling card is Julia Beverly. His eyes widen. He recognizes the name. He senses an opportunity. “Maybe,” the wannabe star says, executing a soul brother handshake, “I’ll drop by your office and leave you a CD.”

At age 20, Julia Beverly is both a potential starmaker and largely unknown in Orlando. But around the local small, hip hop community, everybody knows her name. She came on the scene as editor/photographer of Orlando Source, a publication for the city’s hip hop cognoscenti, and almost single handedly fed its attention starved subculture.

“Anybody in the street knows that Orlando Source is Julia Beverly,” says Copafeel, a DJ on the pirate hip hop radio station War 94, whose given name is Malik Abdul. “She brings the real hip hop flavor to the Orlando market. She’s a pioneer.”

It’s a curious position, because Beverly is both the seeming antithesis of hip hop which emerged from the primordial ooze of New York’s urban underground and the face of the consumer who has sustained its evolution into the nation’s second most popular genre, after rock ‘n’ roll. Each month, she co writes, edits, designs, and produces the monthly magazine read religiously by at least 5,000 fans. Many packed the TD Waterhouse Centre last month to see their favorite local acts feted at the inaugural Orlando Source Awards.

To get the hip hop scoop, she attends concerts and frequents nightclubs, rubbing elbows with readers, passing out freebies. She is constantly approached by wannabes who press in to shake her hand, hug her and slip her demos.

It would be tempting to believe Beverly is the publishing equivalent of Vanilla Ice, the ’90s suburbanite turned rapper who invented a thug life to give his rap a whiff of authenticity. Some have called her a poseur. It’s true that she never has “busted a cap,” meaning shot someone, or had to cook creatively with government cheese. But there has been true uncertainty and doubt in her life. She was 17 when she left home, carting everything she owned in her Corolla.

“I’ve never claimed that I’m from the ‘hood or anything like that, but we all have struggles,” she says. “If you can listen to somebody explain their struggles and you can relate and what they say helps you I mean, there are lots of things that are universal.”


Beverly is not easy. Not easy to corner. Not easy to pigeonhole. Not easy when it comes to teasing out personal details.

Even those she calls friends seem in the dark. It’s as if her life is a classified file with the details cloaked in ribbons of black ink. Conversations with her inner circle (if you can call it that) run eerily similar: the trickle of generic bromides, a silent search for anecdotes, the grain of consensus insight.

“She’s very motivated in what she does,” says friend Magda Labonte. Says associate Erica Valcourt, “She’s well motivated. She works so hard that it’s kind of hard to get that deep.” Even her mother, Nancy, calls her “a very self motivated, hard working and independent young woman who has never been afraid of a challenge.”
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