So you’re familiar with the Hip Hop site WorldStarHipHop we are sure. However, did you ever stop to wonder who founded and owns the project?
WorldStarHipHop (WSHH) is an American hip-hop site, shock site, and content aggregating video blog. Created in 2005, the site averages 1.1 million unique visitors a day. Alexa ranks the site 247th in site traffic in the United States and 983rd for worldwide traffic.The site, operated by Worldstar, LLC, was founded by Lee ‘Q’ O’Denat, a Hollis, Queens-based hip-hop fan, and a dropout from Grover Cleveland High School, who calls himself a “Haitian ghetto nerd.” Described by Vibe as a “remnant of the Geocities generation”, the site regularly features public fighting caught on tape, music videos and other content targeted to young African-American audiences. O’Denat refers to the site as the “CNN of the ghetto.”
Lee ‘Q’ O’Denat started the website in 2005 as a distributor of mixtapes. Shortly after the website’s beginning, hackers destroyed the website. O’Denat later restarted it as a content aggregator. WorldStar began focusing on material similar to the videos of rappers engaging in fights with other rappers and almost-pornographic material that had been previously distributed offline, via physical media. O’Denat used the setup of OnSmash.com, a website which had already been distributing that sort of material. O’Denat said that this led to tension between the two websites. He added “Once we went 100 percent video, showing that original hood stuff, we prevailed.”
The P. Diddy promotional video of Cîroc vodka premiered on WorldStar. As of 2012 Black Entertainment Television (BET) voted WSHH as the “top hip hop and urban culture website” for two years.
Here are a few excerpts from a interview with Q in 2010:
Starting of Q., what is your background? How old are you and where are you from?
Q: I’m from Queens, New York.
When did you start World Star Hip hop?
Q: Started in 2005 as a branch of my original site started in 2001. I was one of the first cats to launch a hip-hop mixtapes website then. One of the first 3 I think it was back then. That first site was the official DJ Whoo Kid hip-hop mixtapes website. It was NYCphatmixtapes.com
Speaking of your Hip Hop connections. What is your relation to DJ Whoo Kid, 50 Cent, and the G-Unit music camp?
Q: Well I hit up Whoo Kid in 1999 to see if I could help him out. He was getting a little buzz in New York and I was living in Baltimore then, so I said let me help you out. Whoo Kid gave me about 20 units to sell and make some money. It was a Murder Mixtape part 3, which was released after he first met 50 Cent. So I became part of that whole mixtape movement and I helped push Whoo Kid, 50 Cent, and G-Unit mixtapes from 1999 until 2006 or 2007.
Earlier you told me before the mix tape movement, you ended up homeless. How did that situation come about?
Q:I was homeless in 2000. I got evicted with no rent. Trying to do my own busines, u know, I was slacking. Really focused on getting my own business plans and architecture togethor, the boss let me go. That same week, my Unemployment check never came so i got evicted so I was like damn. I had nowhere to go and everybody turned their back on me. I ain’t have much family or friends. Everything pretty much went like you’re on your own kid.
Did you go to school for web design or something? How did you begin all of this?
Q: Nah, I was doing internet chatting and little web stuff since about 1996 or ’97. WebTv, I was on that shit when it first came out. Yahoo and all that chatting and flyign to meet girls from all over the country. That had me like DAMN, this is Ill. Seeing how crazy things like this were, I knew it was the future. So I kept reading business and entrepreneur magazines, just reading up on things. That’s when I started NYCPhatMixtapes.com and began distributing Hip-Hop mixtapes. Eventually touring with 50 Cent and G-Unit, we stayed on the road and I wasn’t home anymore. I was no longer going home to my housing projects and stopped shipping out mixtapes as I should have been. At that point People were e-mailing me like Yo, where’s my order, it’s been forever. That’s when I realized I needed a way to get people a product without having to mail anything. That’s when I thought of WorldStarHipHip, it was originally going to be a mixtape download site.
Why did you call it WorldStarHipHop?
Q: I traveled the world booking shows for DJ Vlad and DJ Whoo Kid. I traveled the world and realized the world loved Hip-Hop. Everybody was going crazy for Hip-Hop, which had me like wow when I saw it. So then I thought of the idea we are stars in the world of Hip Hop. So then I started WorldStarHipHop and things jumped off. In 2005 and that’s the year it all began.
When did you realize World Star Hip Hop would be something major?
Q:I Knew it in 2005, know what I mean? I’m something like the Russell Simmons of the internet for Urban and Hip Hop music. I was one of the first cats to come on-line. In 2001, I had a Hip Hop mixtape site. I was already ahead and i knew this was the future. After each site, like a hundred thousand people copied what I did trying to duplicate my vision. After that, once WorldStarHipHop was launched I knew it would be ‘It.’ I just needed the right partner and right team to get me over that hump. So I was already thinkng outside the box and had celebrity nude pictures and sex tapes, doing the wild side. I was doing Poker and everything. WorldStar was not your typical Hip Hop site. It was definitely more thinking outside the box. Things outside the box always grow faster than the average, the norm. I just didnt know when it would (blow up), so I just keep pushing and pushing.
It’s rumored around the industry that your website has gotten record deals for some artists. Are you aware of any?
Q: Yeah, a lot of artists have been signed from the site. A lot of models have gotten famous from WorldStarHipHop too. The site is so big, people see you there and things take off. It’s just like being on tv; Any major network channel whether its BET, MTV, ABC, or whoever. If you are on the front of WorldStarHipHop today, boom, everybody knows who you are. Everybody wants to be on WSHH because of that today. A lot of people blowing my phone off the hook. Models, rappers, and more. However, I changed the way I accept things and made it harder for new content to go up. It’s crazy to me because people will hit me up like I’ll do anything to get on your site. However, I keep the business first and be picky of who comes up. I don’t get credit for any of them after being featured so I am just picky of who I deal with. Rappers and models blow up and don’t even credit us, so I just dont deal with everybody.
Will there be any major changes coming to World Star Hip Hop in the future?
Q: Yeah, there is going to be a lot of change in the future. It’s going to see a big update. WorldStarHipHop will still be hood rich. The site will just be tweaked up and polished. It’s going to be nice like a car with new rims. More side site features and worldstar names. I cant speak on it all but just stay tuned to WorldStarHipHOp.
Can we expect something like a WorldStarHipHop record label?
Q: Yeah, it’s going to be something like that. We are going to be working on signing some artists. A lot of the plans will be unfolding soon for WorldStarHipHop. As I said earlier, I am always thinking ahead but I do not tell it all.
One piece of advice for other entrepreneurs out there?
Q: Keep your eyes on the prize.. on the dream… You can’t be afraid to take risks. No reward comes without risk. Take no risks and get no rewards. Dont be afraid even if nobody else belives in you. Dont even listen to family and friends. Do you… You have to make that ultimate sacrifice. Just hang in there and be spiritual. We all have to keep that third eye open. —- Interview Source