Lee O’Denat, founder of the extremely popular website WorldStarHipHop.com has died in San Diego.
Police were called to a local San Diego business yesterday for a man reported as being unconcious. According to the San Diego County medical examiner’s office O’Denat died at the scene. The medical examiner attributed O’Denat’s death to heart disease. Obesity is believed to be a contributing factor.
WorldStarHiphop.com was founded in 2005 by O’Denat and his wife Brianna Padilla as a distributor of urban mixtapes for aspiring hip hop artist. The website was repeatedly attacked by hackers who eventually took it down. O’Denat was not deterred and later restarted it as a content aggregator or collector of contributed content.
WorldStarHipHop.com focused on hip hop artists trying to come up in the industry. But the site also featured video about personal beefs, street fights, relationship infidelity, pornographic video models other stunts all highly popular in the urban and inner city.
O’Denat himself was beefing with the website he modeled his site on known as OnSmash.com. OnSmash.com was also distributing similiar material. O’Denat admitted this created animosity between the two websites. “Once we went 100 percent video, showing that original hood stuff, we prevailed,” said O’Denat.
Sean “P. Diddy” Combs premiered his Cîroc vodka promotional video on WorldStarHipHop.com. For three years in a row BET voted World Star Hip Hop as the “top hip hop and urban culture website.” Paramount Studios was reported to have been working a on film about the site with Russell Simmons named as the producer.
WorldStarHipHop.com has been criticized as exposing the worst of black inner city culture.The Baltimore Sun TV blogger David Zurawik said, “Now in its sixth year, WorldStar is seen by many critics as yet another example of the coarsening of American culture and life, another low on a downward continuum that extends from the Jerry Springer–style trash-talk shows of the 1980s and 1990s through to the TMZ.com and RadarOnline websites of today.”
Other media critics and observers agree with Zurawik saying “…because of its African-American identity, it has the potential to be used by some viewers to create or fuel stereotypes of urban America as an out-of-control, chaotic space dominated by young, violent, African-American men.” Editor at large Nsenga Burton associate professor at Goucher College and editor at large of The Root described the WorldStar site as “basically shock video. They comb the pop cultural landscape for videos that are shocking on multiple levels and feed into peoples’ voyeuristic tendencies.”
O’Denat was the father of three children and was affectionately known as “Q” to fans. The site’s Facebook page anounced his death and described him as “ a brilliant businessman who championed urban culture, ultimately creating the largest hip-hop website in the world.” O’Denat was 43 years old.