Trade in your 3Gs for Tamagachis, Jonas Brothers for Hanson, and Lindsay Lohan’s recent sexcapades for Ellen’s televised out-party and 2008 isn’t all that different from 1997. The Internet, however, certainly has come a long way from the days of the Dancing Baby. It was back then that CEOs Greg Creekmur and Chuck Watkins launched their website Allhiphop.com, which covers a broad array of topics ranging from news and features to gossip and reviews. The site has become increasingly popular over the years and remains one of the premier hip hop sites due to their heavily imitated formula for success.
“Back in the mid-90s many websites only provided weekly or monthly updates. So we wanted to produce daily content to give the people a reason to come back for more,” Greg explained. “We decided to come out with daily material and keep the people coming back for more.”
Recently there has been much confusion regarding Allhiphop’s partnership with the online advertising agency, Radio One. Will the content remain the same? Has everyone’s favorite grassroots hip hop site gone corporate?
Greg was ready to set the record straight: “While we are thrilled to be working alongside Radio 1, Chuck and I still have creative control over the magazine. We weren’t able to manage our advertising revenue on our own and so we partnered up with them and so far it’s been great.” He was quick to add, “I wouldn’t say that we went quote, unquote corporate.” They have established a relationship with Radio 1’s founder, Kathy Hughes, and are in direct contact with her son every single day to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Collective sigh of relief for all.
The two also opened up about the recent revelation that Chris Brown was involved in a secret cross-promotion with Wrigley Gum releasing a hit song featuring words from the Doublemint Gum jingle. They seemed to successfully fool pretty much everyone in the country. Pretty much everyone, but Greg and Chuck.
“We actually heard that they [Wrigley] were looking to get a foot in the hip hop door and we briefly considered working together with them,” Greg offered with a laugh. Many fear that other artists will follow suit. Some have gone as far to say that future talent may be compromised by unauthentic lyrics, marking the beginning of the end of the Golden Age of Hip Hop.
Greg and Chuck, on the other hand, are none too concerned. They argue that with record sales at an all-time low, artists are forced to explore other avenues of success. “Hip hop is a brand name and if the opportunity presents itself, then an artist has a right to take advantage. These artists are constantly trying to represent themselves in a positive manner to the fans,” Greg argued. “And besides, I think Chris’s personality meshes well with Wrigley too”.
In addition to teaming up with various established companies, artists have also been trying alternative ways to release new material. Rock outfit, Radiohead, asked only for donations on their website when putting up their latest LP and left it up to the fans to determine how much their music was worth. The experiment proved wildly successful, as the CD has sold millions of digital downloads and turned traditional distribution methods on its ear.
All of which begs the question, why haven’t hip hop bands jumped on the bandwagon as well?
“I’d just like to clarify that hip hop birthed this idea,” Greg stated proudly. “Lil’ Wayne released free material for two years straight online and then he had the number 1 album in the country.” The reason that the trend hasn’t caught on for many other performers is because the rap and R&B industry haven’t yet figured out a way to capitalize financially.
As for their must-have albums of the summer? Both are singing praises to Santogold and Nas. Yet Greg felt compelled to add a little disclaimer: “Nas’s newest ain’t exactly the light stuff you play in your car or at the beach though.” Come to think of it, Nas’ It Was Written was the same way back in ‘97. While the face of music—Greg and Chuck included—may be constantly transforming, it’s comforting to know that some things never change.
– Noah Gorsky