WorldStarHipHop EXPOSED: The Truth Behind The Controversial Site

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 7 years ago '05        #1
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Flatbush85 54 heat pts54
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WorldStarHipHop EXPOSED: The Truth Behind The Controversial Site
 

 

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 http://vibe.com/content/w .. roversial-site

Tuesday nights are cracking at Greenhouse, a club on the west side of lower Manhattan. The establishment was featured in Fabolous’ video for “Lights Out,” and this evening patrons re-create the ambiance. Beneath a sea of crystalline rods that hang from the ceiling, a swarm of rappers, athletes, hustlers and hot girls toast Rosé and bounce to DJ Clue’s sound selections. Of course Fabolous is there, along with players from the Memphis Grizzlies, New York Giants and New York Jets. Then there are the others blending in among the highfliers, the people who lurk in the shadows of celebrity. Characters like Lee “Q” O’Denat, the man behind controversial video site WorldStarHipHop.com, has two tables stocked with champagne, Patrón and women. When an argument between two girls breaks out nearby, Q’s bodyguard leaps in the way, while Q parties on, unfazed. Later in the evening, a member of the G-Unit camp—a tough-looking customer with gold teeth and an impassive face—whispers in Q’s ear. When the G-Unit soldier departs, Q recounts the conversation. “He wanted me to come by the G-Unit office,” he says with an incredulous laugh. “fu*k that! We’ll meet at a Starbucks or something.”

Q has a good reason to proceed with caution. Tension between 50 Cent and Q had been simmering since the previous day. After WorldStarHipHop (commonly referred to as WorldStar) had gone temporarily offline, 50 Cent claimed responsibility on Twitter. “I put Worldstar to bed, you don’t believe try me I will shut your sh*t down,” he wrote. It seemed plausible, since 50 had sued Q for trademark infringement in 2009 (Q believes the lawsuit was retribution for posting Rick Ross’ diss songs against 50 Cent). The news burned across the Web like a brush fire, and both World Star and 50’s Web site ThisIs50 became trending topics on Twitter. A few hours later, Angie Martinez, of New York’s Hot 97, interviewed 50 Cent on-air. He played it coy, neglecting to say World Star’s issues were specifically his handiwork. Eventually, Q was patched into the conversation, and 50 snapped into attack mode: “I should black ya eye,” he snarled. “Tell ’em how you were on my tour bus in 2003, you punk! And you created a area where everybody could try to hate on me!” Q stammered to get out a word, but was mostly quiet.

In truth, 50 Cent had nothing to do with World Star’s technical difficulties. The real culprit was an Internet video creator who calls himself IShatOnU. After WorldStar refused to add attribution to one of his videos, which showed ChatRoulette reactions to a faked suicide, IShatOnU filed a copyright complaint with the site’s server, a complaint Q says he never received. When WorldStar neglected to remove the offending video, the server took action. Some furious fans learned IShatOnU’s identity, and bombarded him with threatening e-mails and phone calls. One wrote, “Y da fuk u took down worldstar for? If I knew where you lived id murk u.” Another read, “Snich a.ss white f*ggot. fu*k you in your fat face.” IShatOnU says it was only bored kids lashing out, but takes exception to World Star’s policies. “It’s a grimy site, man,” he says via phone from Chicago. “They’re making a sh*tload of money off other motherfu*kers without compensation.”

To be sure, World Star’s poaching of content is not unique: The Huffington Post, a Web site purchased in February by AOL for $315 million, has faced similar criticism for its use of aggregating content. But Q’s approach is notably brazen. When a video goes up, it’s plastered with the WSHH logo, shoehorned into a media player and stripped of links to the source. Eric and Jeff Rosenthal, brothers who create online comedy sketches to ItsTheReal.com, have seen several of their videos uploaded to World Star without credit. The only identifying text on the video read “Courtesy of Mahad,” a World Star employee. “I don’t know who Mahad is or what he does, but I do know that he’s not a Rosenthal,” says Jeff in an e-mail. “World Star absolutely violates rules of Internet connectivity.”

According to Q, his strategy pays off with “roughly” 2 million unique visitors a day. Alexa, a Web analytics company, ranks the site 225th in site traffic in the United States and the 900th in the world. By comparison, MTV.com notches 222nd and Travelocity.com at 232nd. Alexa says World Star’s visitors tend to be Black males under the age of 35 who are “moderately educated.” As a result of all this activity, Q says the site is valued “in the millions.”


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But for all its heavy numbers, World Star looks more like a remnant of the Geocities generation than a rising online powerhouse. It has a clunky design, comment sections susceptible to spam and captions that appear to be written by texting teenagers (example: “WTH Is Goin On: Bloods Violate Boy Reppin Another Gang in McDonalds!”). The clips of public f!ghting have become so popular on World Star that “documentarians” with cell phone cameras sometimes name-drop the site while recording brawls. The site has popularized online personalities such as Kat Stacks, a notorious kiss-and-telling groupie; 50 Tyson, an autistic emcee who resembles the rapper and the boxer; and Cubana Lust, an adult model with an extra large b00ty. One recent video shows a homeless woman attacking a shrieking man in a New York City subway train. “9-to-5 people love to see misery,” Q says. “People want to say, ‘I thought I had it bad, but look at these people.’ That’s what sells.”

While offering a glimpse at the stretch-marked underbelly of hip-hop, World Star hasn’t only generated torrents of traffic, but also spurred accusations of cultural bottom-feeding and back dealing, which has landed Q in the crosshairs online and off. The incident involving 50 Cent and World Star dovetailed with Q’s emergence as a public figure. He has always been relatively easy to contact through his site, but he had nevertheless been a faceless dictator of a roiling empire. In the middle of 2010, he recruited Kevin Black, a music industry executive who once worked at Interscope and Warner Bros., to serve as president of World Star. It’s a role Q describes as “a scapegoat.” After Black’s departure, Q stepped to the forefront.

The ninth grade dropout of Queens, New York’s Grover Cleveland High School doesn’t seem overly concerned about the ire he’s sure to draw from community groups and law enforcement agencies looking to police the Internet; or content creators who feel they’ve been ripped without credit; or rappers who have a score to settle. He’s determined to step out from behind the mouse pad and let the world know who did this to you. Or, as he put it: “I tried to be in the background. But people need to see and feel who started this site.”

Before Q became the boisterous Internet video hustler, he was simply known as Lee O’Denat, an introverted kid from the working-class neighborhood of Hollis, Queens. His father left the household before he was born, and his mother worked as a nurse. “He was very quiet,” says his mom, Jacqueline Jeanty, in a dense Haitian accent. “He liked to play by himself. Sometimes the school would call and say, ‘Is there a problem at home?’ Because of his temperament.”

But the noisy allure of hip-hop was powerful. Salt of Salt-N-Pepa grew up around the corner, and Q once saw Kid N Play rehearsing in her backyard. CL Smooth’s sister lived up the block. Q dreamed of being a rapper. He recorded his own verses and used the alias Lee’apol—a nickname derived from a childhood accident where he hit his head on a pole.

It was in 1996 that Q first became enamored with computers and the possibilities of the digital age. Introduced to the Internet by “Web TV” portals, he recognized its potential for improving his social life. “It was a way to meet girls and not leave your house!” he says. “I was like, ‘I love the fu*king Internet, I’m not fu*king going back.’” Q’s first attempt at creating an online business involved hosting pr0n and placing ads in magazines, but he ran out of funds.

During the ’90s, Q bounced between New York City, Florida, Baltimore and Pennsylvania. He worked at Circuit City and sold phones at SprintPCS before he was evicted and spent some nights in his car. Then, in 1999, he had a revelation. “It was an inner voice, something that came to me that made me see the world differently,” he says. Q won’t divulge specific details, but describes the aftereffects. “When your life changes, you find yourself alone because everybody turns their back on you: family, friends. I would cry in bed. I was scared.” When pressed for details, he adds to the mystery by alluding to supernatural forces. He suggests watching The Knowing, a 2009 sci-fi movie with Nicolas Cage where the earth is engulfed in solar flares and beings called “The Strangers” whisk children away in flying vessels. “All I can say is that we’re not alone,” Q says.


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Among humans, Q’s best ally turned out to be lifelong friend Yves Ceac, better known as DJ Whoo Kid. (He declined to comment for this story.) When the G-Unit juggernaut began picking up steam in 2001, Q founded NYCPhatMixtapes.com as Whoo Kid’s official Web site. He was living in public housing in central Pennsylvania but selling New York’s hottest hip-hop commodities: 50 Cent Is the Future, Guess Who’s Back? and other mixtapes featuring 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo. “I was just another part of the entourage,” says Q, of his relationship with G-Unit. “50 used to see me and say, ‘What’s up?’—he recognized my face—but he didn’t give a fu*k about me.”

50, who says he’s in litigation with World Star for incorporating his likeness into the original WSHH logo has been disturbed by the platform Q provided to 50’s opponents. “If there’s a dispute between me and another artist, there’s more online traffic. People trying to keep up with it. Almost like a soap opera,” says 50. “When that happens, he tries to cover the other side of it as much as possible so he can have exclusive content. Because he can’t have exclusive content with thisis50.com being in existence.”

In 2005, Q launched WorldStarHipHop.com as a digital download site. There was good money to be made selling physical copies of mixtapes for $15, but he couldn’t handle the shipping responsibilities. Here, for a monthly fee, members could download an a.ssortment of mixtapes, not just G-Unit material. In 2007, Q decided to start showcasing videos. He posted an ad on GetACoder.com seeking a freelance computer programmer. It requested “EXACTLY THE SAME EVERYTHING FEATURES” as OnSmash.net, another popular hip-hop site. Shortly after WorldStarHipHop appropriated its layout, hackers took it down and, according to Q, declared vengeance for OnSmash. (OnSmash declined to comment for this story.) It took seven months to fix. “I felt like quitting, like, ‘fu*k the Internet,’” Q says.

When World Star returned, it was simplified into a video aggregator. The mix of music, violence and humor proved addictive, and the rise of streaming video, Facebook and Twitter spread the site’s heavily watermarked material across the Web. Record labels began providing “exclusive” content. Its first substantial premiere was Ace Hood’s 2008 single “Cash Flow,” and artists such as Rick Ross and Waka Flocka Flame have since debuted videos on the site. In an era when artists shoot quick, low-budget videos lacking the production values or commercial appeal for MTV or BET, WorldStarHipHop.com provides an ideal outlet. For his part, Q gives himself ultimate credit.

“I’m like Black Jesus,” he says. “I talk to everybody, the scum of the earth. I’m down there in the mud. I treat everybody the same, from Puffy to the nobody with $500 for a video. That’s what people love about the site.”



It’s a chilly night in Alexandria, La., and Q is looking to party. He’s just cornered a glassy-eyed busboy at Texas Roadhouse, a steak joint with peanut shells on the floor and stuffed jackalopes on the wall. “So where do you go to look at pus*y and t*ts?” he asks. The kid, mortified into near silence, finally mutters something about a nasty place with pregnant dancers. “I thought that was an urban legend,” says Q. “That would make some good footage.”

Q is only in this sleepy town to show support for Kat Stacks, the notorious groupie being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He has signed her to World Star as a celebrity/rapper/villain, and she isn’t earning anything behind bars. But this afternoon was a bust. After Q, a cameraman, the lawyer, Kat’s mother and Kat’s son drove out to the courthouse at the Bureau of Prisons Federal Correctional Complex in Oakdale, they learned she wouldn’t be freed for a few more weeks.

159 comments for "WorldStarHipHop EXPOSED: The Truth Behind The Controversial Site"

 7 years ago '05        #2
Flatbush85 54 heat pts54 OP
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Q has polished off a plate of chicken tenders when Kat calls from prison. They exchange pleasantries. “Four months without d!ck?” says Q. “Your pus*y is gonna be like your a.ss. Gotta make sure your first dude isn’t a dirtbag—he’s gonna love you.”

Conversations like this one unwind World Star’s DNA. Strip clubs, jailed groupies and raunchiness are part of its makeup. A common complaint from critics is that the site presents a negative image of Black people. In response, Q dusts off the familiar trope that WSHH is the “CNN of the ghetto.” “We’re just the messenger,” he says. “Maybe that will help Blacks or minorities say, ‘Wow, I don’t want to be on World Star, I don’t want to be on blast.’”

But World Star’s content isn’t all that is in question. Skeptics have accused Q of juicing viewership numbers. On a weekday afternoon, the count for Torch’s track “Bang Yo City” went from an astronomical 6,706,079 to 6,709,233—an increase of over 3,000—in approximately two minutes. On YouTube, one critic demonstrates how holding down the “refresh” button generates mega-views. Q denies this accusation. “We don’t have time to sit there and hit Control-R all day,” Q says. He admits to the controversial practice of counting visits to the homepage as “views” for the main video feature, even though it may not have been played. “It’s like watching a video on MTV Jams,” he says. “You don’t know if 2 million people or 10 million people are watching.”

World Star’s viewership may be subject for debate, but their revenue is real. According to the site’s rate card, they charge $500 to post a video, $1,250 for mixtape/DVD trailers and $5,000 for X-rated clips. Putting content in the featured top box costs $2,500 a day, while there is no charge for videos from established artists. Q says that Cîroc vodka paid several hundred thousand dollars for a comprehensive yearlong campaign. Money rolls in through Paypal, corporate checks and knots of duffel-bag cash (one of Q’s a.ssociates even alluded to a system where money was picked up at the front desk of hotels). Now, in hopes of growing into an empire, World Star has expanded into management and bookings, and inked a deal with Ed Hardy to introduce a World Star clothing line.

In fact, Q rarely misses an opportunity to squeeze a buck from his brand and beyond. One girl begged him to take down a clip in which she stripped nekkid while rapping along to Nicki Minaj’s verse from “Monster.” Like many humiliating moments inspired by alcohol and caught on camera, the clip ended up on WorldStarHipHop.com. She was desperate to get the footage off the Web, so she contacted Q and tearfully begged him to remove the clip. “She had been disowned, kicked out of her house,” Q remembers, sounding sympathetic. Eventually he relented and took down the video, but only after she coughed up $500. “She had to pay up!” he cackles, rubbing his thumb and forefinger together.

Because of his shrewd, if crude, practices, Q enjoys the luxuriant lifestyle of the rap star he once hoped to become. He stays at The Ritz Carlton, pops bottles of Patrón and makes it rain at strip clubs. When visiting New York, Los Angeles or Miami, he travels with security—a necessary expense. “I’m an important figure in the world with this Web site,” Q says, reveling in his position at the hot center of hip-hop gore. “But it just takes one person to say, ‘I hate that fu*king site,’ and punch me in my eye.” V

 03-28-2011, 11:13 PM         #3
Ca$h Out 
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didn't read, can somebody explain?
 7 years ago '05        #4
GROUCHCARTEL 97 heat pts97
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at fiddy whining bout dude doing him greasy..thats what he built his whole career on...
 7 years ago '04        #5
justinjones 307 heat pts307
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cliff notes?
 03-28-2011, 11:22 PM         #6
superj25 
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didnt read
 7 years ago '06        #7
Jhnnyblz427 174 heat pts174
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def not reading this shyt
 7 years ago '05        #8
swyshasweets 
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da fukk i dont even read long text messages....that sh*t sure isnt gettn read lol
 7 years ago '10        #9
beatjunkie 6 heat pts
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hell na i ain't readin all that bout some fu*kin world star... someone sum it all up for me...whats poppin wit this shady n*gga Q
 7 years ago '06        #10
marcusaka50 58 heat pts58
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didnt read but i guess

its saying wshh is not good look for black people.

if white people see this it makes all of us look bad.

it might not change the negative way we act it just exposes it for white
to see.








































I fu*ks wshh I represent for my family and friends and not a whole black nation, n*ggaz gonna n*ggaz to the end of time.
 7 years ago '04        #11
SpyDa 180 heat pts180
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sh*t since nobody reading the sh*t let a n*gga pull out a sunkist turn on some Pac and get to reading.............



stand by for the cliff notes......




*pulling out the frames*









































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 7 years ago '10        #12
Blue GM 247 heat pts247
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 03-28-2011, 11:29 PM         #13
solehead1128 
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 7 years ago '04        #14
bouncer900 
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 7 years ago '05        #15
adh56 
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That sh*t was longer then the essay I just finished writing. Aint no way I would read that sh*t.
 7 years ago '06        #16
Bouncer 16 heat pts16
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@ anyone who actually reads that sh*t
 7 years ago '08        #17
supervillain 244 heat pts244
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damn....
World Star’s viewership may be subject for debate, but their revenue is real. According to the site’s rate card, they charge $500 to post a video, $1,250 for mixtape/DVD trailers and $5,000 for X-rated clips. Putting content in the featured top box costs $2,500 a day, while there is no charge for videos from established artists. Q says that Cîroc vodka paid several hundred thousand dollars for a comprehensive yearlong campaign. Money rolls in through Paypal, corporate checks and knots of duffel-bag cash (one of Q’s a.ssociates even alluded to a system where money was picked up at the front desk of hotels). Now, in hopes of growing into an empire, World Star has expanded into management and bookings, and inked a deal with Ed Hardy to introduce a World Star clothing line.

In fact, Q rarely misses an opportunity to squeeze a buck from his brand and beyond. One girl begged him to take down a clip in which she stripped nekkid while rapping along to Nicki Minaj’s verse from “Monster.” Like many humiliating moments inspired by alcohol and caught on camera, the clip ended up on WorldStarHipHop.com. She was desperate to get the footage off the Web, so she contacted Q and tearfully begged him to remove the clip. “She had been disowned, kicked out of her house,” Q remembers, sounding sympathetic. Eventually he relented and took down the video, but only after she coughed up $500. “She had to pay up!” he cackles, rubbing his thumb and forefinger together.
i suggest ya'll read this sh*t..
 03-28-2011, 11:38 PM         #18
Rendition 
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iight

before i read this somebody let me know

does this article hit any points other than Q selling out his race to the masses daily?
 7 years ago '10        #19
ecomog 98 heat pts98
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 Oh Finesse said:
fu*k WSHH though, sh*t is run by a f*ggot anyways who only cares about the minstrel show aspect of blacks entertaining everybody else with their stupidity (the ones you can catch on the site acting a fool everyday), god forbid you show something uplifting.. and even when they do 9 out of 10 people are gonna click on the video labeled "Shxt Just Got Real: 2 Chicks Brawl in an NYC Subway Station! (Big Momma Goin Ham)"
real talk. I stopped going to WSHH and MediaFakeOut cause that's the only kinda sh*t you see. Maybe 1 positive video/article lost among 30 negative ones. sh*t's redundant.
 7 years ago '04        #20
A.G 27 heat pts27
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Basically all you need to know is that Q and most WSHH viewers are the most bottom of the barrel worthless pieces of sh*t in existence.
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