Behind everyone’s favorite website is an individual, who had the conviction to think, plan, and execute one idea that changed the pace of many. What do you ask one of the leading digital masterminds who pioneered one of the most successful urban websites to ever hit the Internet? You might want to ask, how can I utilize the Internet to make millions, and believe me he definitely knows the answer.
Q, the founder of non-other than the glorious and notorious site WorldStarHipHop.com, is ever so enchanting as the zany antics you will find on his site. WorldStarHipHop has every type of video you can imagine and if they don’t have it listed, it’s probably on the way.
To dive into the mind of a genius and comb thru his thoughts, you are guaranteed to be taught and learn a secret or two to his achievements, and be inspired within your own path. Q has many big announcements on the way that will take his WSHH brand to the next level, and continue to furnish his company for many more years to come. With new ventures on deck from a clothing line to a very interesting new client he just signed.
How long have you been involved in the digital media industry?
Oh, since ’99.
Now I’ve heard that you were homeless at some point. How did you keep your spirits up to become the man you are today?
Yeah, I was homeless for a few months. I was living out of my car, not out of a cardboard box or nothing. I was living in my car, and I used to sleep over different girl’s houses to shower and stuff because I had gotten evicted from always being late with the rent. I stayed in my car and then was able to move to the projects.
I was 25 at the time and something just told me that I had to go do something better. I was 25 and it was time to get serious, because all of the clubbing and girls gets tiresome and it’s not going to provide for you. You don’t want to be 45 and still be in the club. I knew I had to make a power move so I started researching and reading. I love being on web TV, I was Big Poppa back in the day. I started meeting girls on the Internet and I was like, “Wow, I can meet girls and not even have to go out.” I started to feel like the Internet was the future so I concentrated on it.
When you engineered the design of your website, what lead you to allow so many categories of urban culture to be displayed beyond just showing music videos?
With WorldStar, it started off as a blogsite. It was initially a mixtape download website with DJ Whoo Kid that was a spin off of my original website nycphatmixtapes.com, which I had started in 2001. It was the official mixtape website of DJ Whoo Kid so I only sold his music and G-Unit and 50 Cent CDs. When 50 got signed in ’03, I had started touring with them because I was booking the parties. I was never at home because I was touring so much and people started complaining because they had purchased CDs but I hadn’t had the time to mail them yet. So I decided that I needed a site that could let people just pay, download, and burn the music themselves. That’s when I created WordStarHipHop because I was traveling the world at the time. I saw that everyone loved Hip-Hop no matter what part of the world I had visited, so a year later I started giving the site more variety to make the site stand out from other Hip-Hop websites.
What do you feel has been the leading cause of increased traffic on your site?
It all came as the site was growing. We went down for 8 months and then re-launched in ‘07. When we came back, my partner and I were like, “Let’s just go hard and do straight video.” We decided to just do fun, crazy, bizarre video while still keeping it urban. We just started putting the “WTF” type of footage up. We became one of the top ten Hip-Hop websites and we just kept going from there. We would just search YouTube and post those videos that people didn’t know about because they were hard to find. We started putting up content from the urban DVDs because people didn’t realize that you had to go to the hood to find that type of stuff so we made it available. We were thinking outside of the box and wanted the site to be a one-stop shop.
Sometimes WSHH has some wild videos. Do people ever submit videos that are just too over the top so you have to reject them, or do people generally respect the format and send in standard content? Is that how you came up with WorldStarCandy.com?
Yeah, with WorldStarCandy, we get flooded with girls that send in crazy and nude content. We do have those girls that are like, “I’ll do anything to get on WorldStar.” We do get a lot of crazy things submitted, some things I can’t even mention [laughs]. We try to do as much as we can but we don’t want to over do it. Because Bill O’Reilly likes to talk about us at times and he tries to get us in trouble. We just report the news like any other site, no different than CNN or Fox. The news is the good, the bad, and the ugly and we play our part.
What does your staff look for from new content in order to make the site?
Once we see it, we just know. I don’t have an A&R team to look at the videos all day and pick which ones they want to personally rock with. People just pay to have their material put up. People don’t like to pay, but you got to look at it like this, you can’t put a price tag on you getting top-notch exposure. If you want to promote your music, we ask for a small fee so that you can be seen by thousands of people if you’re chosen. It’s no different than you having to pay to get into a magazine like XXL, The Source, or Hip Hop Weekly because they don’t put an article out for free. If it’s something news worthy or like a real wow moment, than we’ll definitely put it up with no charge. 99% of the time unsigned artist pay to put their music up because we get so many submissions it’s just too much to sort through so the fee is the best way to handle it.
There’s a lot of websites that are out and are copying the blueprint that you laid down. Do you find the imitators flattering or does it crease your drive to stay at the top?
I take it as both because it does make me want to work harder. The same thing happened to me with my mixtape site. I was one of the first too have a functional mixtape site, and within 6 months to a year there were dozens of similar sites and I was like, “WTF.” When it comes to this technology I love being the front-runner. It makes me work harder at the end of the day. We have some very big announcements that we’re about to make at WorldStar so stay tuned.
Do you ever have any media beefs with similar sites?
Of course, it’s like the Social Network movie. You can’t have millions of friends and not make at least a few enemies. When it comes to success, you have mixed emotions and face many trials and tribulations. It’s certain things that come along with success like the beef and lawsuits. In the beginning, it was hard because we use to get tones of e-mails telling use to cease and desist or to take down certain videos from the site. Artist would complain that we stole their video from their YouTube page and I’m like, “If it’s on the Internet than it’s every ones.” We give credit to everyone and keep his or her tag up. We use to put our tag on the video too because we would actually edit the video. We do have problems with other websites and I get personal hate all the time because I’m number one. I look at it like if Obama can get hate than I should take it as a compliment. I love that I stay on the hater’s minds.
Now, let’s get to the nasty stuff there was so rumors of you working with the government and being an informant. You were mentioned of FOX News. Can you shed any light and clear the rumor mill once and for all.
The situation with Bill O’Reilly was funny and bizarre. I was like, “Why are you mentioning me and trying to single me out when I’m just doing my job and reporting the news.” I was like, “WTF, you’re on the news saying my government name and stating that the FBI and CIA should pay me a visit.” The video wasn’t something that we created or shot directly, it was something we had found on the Internet and just placed it onto our site. O’Reilly thought I shot the video directly so he tried to go in on me. At the end of the day, it was great press for me because we got a lot of hits because of him.
What is the typical response you get from people when they realize that you are the founder of WorldStarHipHop?
Males show me mad love and respect. They say they want to put their video up on the site and ask for my number, which is cool with me, because I’ve had the same number since ‘05. So everyone has my number. So people call and we work it out to be on the site. Females want to be on WorldStarCandy or they simply want to be associated with the site and me because I’m just a chill type of dude so everyone shows me a lot of love.
I heard that you have a new client that you just signed. She’s well known as the one and only Kat Stacks, so tell me a little about that partnership.
Yeah, we see Kat Stacks as being very popular and successful at what she does. We were the first to put her video out and air her out there, so we feel a little responsible for her rise now. She’s been getting mad e-mails for bookings and having issues with her previous manager so she approached me and I felt like why not. I know her because she’s been doing her videos for WorldStar so why not make her official and a part of the team to help her turn it all into revenue.
What are some of your favorite ways to stay ahead of the technology curve, for example trade mags or tech conferences, etc?
I do a lot of mediations and focus my energies so that I can listen to my own thoughts. I do read a lot of entrepreneur magazines. I like to hear other people’s stories of success to stay motivated because it’s not how a person starts but how they finish and I take that concept to heart.
How do you plan on expanding the areas of the website in the New Year?
Well, the WorldStar apparel is about to come out. We have a big merchandising deal about to jump off. And just look for the overall brand to get bigger and better than ever. -YoRaps