The man who launched WorldStarHipHop.com has died.
While initial reports said that Lee O’Denat, a.k.a. “Q,” died in his sleep, the L.A. Times reports he was at a San Diego massage parlor when he became unresponsive. He was 43. The cause of death is listed as a heart attack, with obesity as a contributing factor.
The CEO of WorldStar was 33 when began the website in 2005 by posting mixtapes. It gradually progressed into a mixture of rap videos, celebrity interviews, sports clips and the latest viral sensation.
He told the New York Times in November 2015: “People may be offended by some of the content, but, hey, the Internet is not a censorship boat. We’re the Carnival cruise, man. You don’t have to log on.”
We ask that you remember Q in your prayers and raise a toast to the sky in his name. RIP 🙏 pic.twitter.com/ixsULQil32
— WORLDSTARHIPHOP (@WORLDSTAR) January 24, 2017
Via the NYT:
Mr. O’Denat, 43, is of Haitian heritage and was raised by a single mother. He started working at 14, initially at a fast-food restaurant (he lasted a week), then at Circuit City, where he fell in love with computers. He discovered the web back in the dial-up days.
“I was telling people, ‘This is the future,’ ” he said. “They were like, ‘This is going nowhere.’ They laughed at me.”
Mr. O’Denat, a high school dropout, started his first digital venture, a pornographic site, in 1999. It failed. Next he created an e-commerce site to sell mix tapes by DJ Whoo Kid, a friend from Queens who collaborated with 50 Cent. It was moderately successful but too narrowly focused.
It wasn’t until the mid-aughts, when YouTube became popular, that Mr. O’Denat said he “saw another curve, the future of everything,” and created a hip-hop-inspired site that was 100 percent videos. But while YouTube was a vast media ocean, Mr. O’Denat’s WorldStar would be a concentrated dose of off-the-chain.