Letter From The Editor: How To Make It In Hip Hop Journalism

In his opening address, HipHopDX's Editor-in-Chief offers perspective on how to be a successful music journalist.

I didn’t know I was going to become a journalist.

I just liked Lupe Fiasco’s music enough to email my friends about it.

Outside of most One-Percenter measures, life was already pretty exceptional. I was 24 years old, living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn; working in Banc Of America Securities’ Financial Institutions Group, drinking in Manhattan, passing out on trains, waking up on buses, smoking Sour Diesel, traveling whenever booty called, dissecting Rap lyrics. Kanye West's “Touch The Sky” had just dropped and Lupe’s “I’m trying to stop lion like a Mum-Ra / But I’m not lyin’ what I’m layin’ on the beat” had just broke the record for the Most Consecutive One Night Replays in my Cousin Sha’s Coney Island apartment.  

Finding a Millennial minus an older cousin/sister/brother/uncle/neighbor who introduced them to Hip Hop is nearly impossible. Anyone born after 1979 immediately understands two things:

A. Rap.

B. Video games.  

We all can talk about Rap or video games whether or not we like them. We remember Busy Bee or B.I.G. or Bonecrusher just like we remember Pac Man or Oregon Trail or Super Mario. We have no memory of a time when none of those existed and we knew they were important because we had someone older explaining why they were cool. For me, that was my Cousin Sha. And outside of Battle Rap and Lupe Fiasco, in the mid-2000s, Cousin Sha was bored by just about everything happening in Hip Hop.  

Rap conversations were especially polarized then. Lil Wayne said he was “The Best Rapper Alive.” Nas said “Hip Hop Is Dead.” Label’s called it “Pirating.” Blogs called it “Sharing.” Jay Z dropped the Black Album and backed out before backing back in in a soon-to-be Budweiser-branded speedboat. Old industry pillars like print media and radio seemed jaded and confused. Tommy Cherian, J-23, Andreas Hale, Meka, William Ketchum III, Brillyance, and others were defining HipHopDX. Market disruption: Complete.

The Tipping Point

And while the murk immersed, Lupe Fiasco kicked incredibleness.

Incredibleness.

The Fahrenheit 1/15 mixtape series redefined modern Hip Hop storytelling. Every aspect of emceeing and song writing masterfully exemplified; every limit of lyrical imagination magnanimously repositioned. If Andre 3000 was in the cosmos extending the universe, Lupe Fiasco was in the quarks extending the Periodic Table.

None of Carrera Lu’s self-sabotaging symptoms were yet apparent. He was crafting rich joints out of legendary songs like Nas’ “Thief’s Theme” (“Twilight Zone”) and Kanye West’s “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” (“Conflict Diamonds”), so he didn’t yet have a production problem. He was still rocking the low cut Caesar, spectacle wearing, maybe-I-might-skateboard-but-I-can-still-rhyme-about-drugs-better aesthetic, so he still fit every conversation. He was still largely living in third-person wizardry, so we were still too enamored by his perspective to be dispelled by his personality. He was a conscious sounding Lil Wayne (minus the dreads and tattoos).

Fiasco’s the first blog darling to truly break big. Take a look at XXL’s first Freshman cover. Name a solo artist that’s more influential. Other than arguably DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, India Arie, Common, Drake and Macklemore, he’s the most common-man Grammy winner ever in any Rap or Urban category, and absolutely the least likely in retrospect. He doesn’t have a platinum album, but neither does Rick Ross, and Lupe’s much more difficult to digest. He was turning project buildings into robots while detailing the ironies of superstardom on a platinum selling single and explaining why “the Streets is a demon in a dress” on a classic LP.

I’d never heard words worked that way before. It was enough to inspire me to work words.

Those initial emails were called Lupe Fiasco’s Daily Quotable. I felt compelled to tell every maligned Millennial I knew about Cornell Westside and his then approaching debut album, Food & Liquor because, in my opinion, he represented the convergence of all of our generation’s most defining touch points: Politics, technology, entertainment, video games, Rap music. I wanted him to win.

I was addicted to e-Hip Hop conversations by the time the album dropped, so I changed the name of the email blast to Justin Hunte’s Daily Quotable, and wrote about every incredible online emcee like Little Brother and MF Doom.

Three months later, a close friend opened a blogspot for me in attempt to convince me to save my hobby on the Internet.

Three days later, I created the The-Quotable.

Three years later, I quit the bank to venture through New York City Hip Hop with the goal of earning a teacher’s salary writing about Rap.

Three-point-five years after that, I became the Editor-in-Chief of my all-time favorite Hip Hop publication: HipHopDX.

No step came easy. Every inch felt like traveling with Big Pun on your back.

DX crossed a significant milestone this week. After 13 years of pushing Hip Hop content virtually, in February 2013, CEO Tommy Cherian opened the company’s first headquarters in Hollywood, California. For the first time, the majority of our staff worked side-by-side under the same roof. Yesterday we celebrated our one-year anniversary. It was enough to collectively revel in our wins, refocus on the next checkpoint and reflect on how we made it this far.

No one can tell you exactly how to accomplish whatever it is that’s cluttering your dreams. Whether you subscribe to Jay Z’s #NewRules or Diddy’s #NoRules, rules all together are becoming strikingly less important. What I can do is offer a few pieces of perspective that I’ve leaned on during my personal journey. In a nod to one of my favorite journalists, Bill Simmons, here’s How To Make It In Hip Hop Journalism (highlighted through Lupe Fiasco lyrics).

Stay Focused On The Next Checkpoint

“Then he put him down and went back to the kitchen / And put on another beat and got back to the mission…” – “Hip Hop Saved My Life”

I’m not a trained writer so every time I finish an article it feels like I won a world championship. I’ll go back and reread the piece, analyze it, make subtle changes, reread it again, check the comments, refresh the page, check the comments again, analyze again, etcetera. I break to bask in completion, accomplishment. By the time I’m finished tickling my own balls, I’ve squandered an opportunity to harness that momentum into the next story. And since the most difficult aspect of writing for me is starting, in a sense, I’m my own kryptonite.

I don’t know if DX News Editor, Soren Baker ever has that problem. He’s been writing about Rap for nearly two decades. He’s published 12 books about all of your favorite emcees and worked at every revered publication, Hip Hop or otherwise. I look at the reputational wall he’s built brick-by-brick over his career and the mentorship he provides to us in #DXHQ and marvel at how everything he’s accomplished seems like reflex. He’s churning out five stories or more each day in the office, edits every other piece that appears in the News section, then goes home and writes more. Soren never seems to be elevated or distracted by his success. He never loses sight of the mission. Celebrating small wins is paramount, but not at the expense of the bigger picture.

Always Be Intentional With Your Words

“Speak easy like prohibition” – “Lupe The Killer”

It took me four months to adjust to life in Los Angeles. The rules of engagement are 180 degrees away from anywhere else I’ve lived. People in Greenville, South Carolina and New York City and Amsterdam are more direct. They’ll give you an honest answer faster—at least in my experiences. Trying to determine who was lying to me was driving me crazy like Vinny Chase. Then I realized that I was the problem. This is Hollywood, after all. The most common job title on resumes is “Actor.” People from all over the world literally come here to be somebody else—anybody else. It’s the status quo. Fighting that wave is like fighting a receding hairline. So the only option is to default to the most resounding principles I’ve learned by living on two continents: Treat everyone fairly, be open, be honest, be vulnerable and give everyone equal opportunity to shit on me once. No one can hide from who they are personally or professionally. To paraphrase Jay Z, whether or not the grass is cut the snakes will show.

Journalists tell stories for a living. Our business is words. Whether on or off Word, it’s imperative that we use every character with intention and understanding of its impact. Trite commentary or factual inaccuracy can be as damaging as slapping Suge Knight. There is no room for rushed judgment because in an industry warring over pageviews from an audience growing increasingly reluctant to click on anything, authenticity is the truest currency. Speak who you are and your ideal doors will open organically.

Never Be Afraid To Respectfully Use Your Voice

“I think that all the silence is worst than all the violence / Fear is such a weak emotion / That’s why I despise it” – “Words I Never Said”

My first byline was born out of fear. I created the moniker “The Company Man” because I feared getting fired for using office hours to talk Hip Hop. I was also afraid of accidental dream killing criticism from friends and family once they found out I was writing about Rap. I knew I enjoyed what I was doing. But the thought of not being good forced me into hiding.

I talk to aspiring writers all the time now and the question I receive most often is, “How do I ask tough questions without pissing off the artist?” Technique aside, never be afraid to respectfully use your voice. DX Features Editor, Omar Burgess is a great example. O’s been writing professionally for nearly a decade and is awesome at asking penetrating questions and providing scathing critique without ever encroaching on disrespect. His interviews delve deeper than most in this industry, his research is impeccable; his commentary almost always lands right at the heart of the story. As a result, he’s become one of the most respected Editors in online journalism. Artists are as sensitive as journalists, so both sides of the conversation have that in common. But succumbing to fear of using your voice not only subtracts from your fiduciary responsibility to your audience—to report the truth—but it places you right in the middle with everyone else. Standing out on your research and integrity is imperative.  

Do Everything You Can To Never Miss A Deadline

“At the same time I was pushing the margins so far to the left that I ended up writing on my desk” – “Trials And Tribulations”

If you want to write about Rap, or anything else, you have to write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. When you’re tired of writing, write. When you’re not sleeping, write. After you leave the gym and cook dinner and put the kids to bed, write. Smoke weed and write. Don’t smoke weed and write. Just make sure you’re constantly writing. There are no other options.

Kathy Iandoli, DX’s Music Editor will tell you the same thing. Not only are Kathy’s freelance clips the stuff of Lester Bangs, but throughout her entire decade-plus career she has only written for the top publications. Kathy writes with color, with comedy, with conviction and she does so masterfully because she has 10,000 hours of repetition. She’s constantly writing. She reminds staff members that they need to write more often. She probably writes while driving. As a freelancer for HipHopDX, Kathy blasted me over email for missing a deadline—and rightfully so. I spent an extra week thinking about what words I wanted to use in my review of J.Period’s The Abstract Best Vol. 1 and I completely missed the arc of the online conversation. At that point the review lost significant pageview value. Kathy benched me for next three months and I deserved it. The point is this: You can’t be a writer if you’re not writing, and you'll lose opportunities if you miss deadlines.

Steal Like An Artist

“They want me to make Prince pants / But I withstand. I ain’t gotten into that / A little BIG in the waist / Tupac-ets on the back / Call ‘em Luvy’s / OGs covered in blue dye.” – “Pressure”

A close friend of mine, DJ Sav One, sent me a book for Christmas called Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative. Author, Austin Kleon drops a ton of jewels about life and ways to exercise your imagination. Those initial years practicing at The-Quotable were spent straight jacking the writing styles of Bill Simmons, Maureen Dowd, and Scoop Jackson. I loved everything about the way they phrased whatever they had to say. After years of copying how they framed conversation, unexpectedly, I stumbled into a brand new style that was a combination of theirs. I did the same with Matt Taiibi and Toure. While hosting Brooklyn Bodega Radio and The Company Man show on PNC Radio—and in each of my seven Revolt Live appearances—I heavily benchmarked Sway and Rachel Maddow. I’m doing the same now with Bill Maher, Kris Ex, and Jon Caramanica. If you love the way someone else does something, study what they do and how they do it. Make them your long distance mentor. Then move on to the next inspiration while always crediting the source.   

“Hatin’ on your happiness / You hit ‘em off with laughs / Smile ‘til they surrender then you kill ‘em off with Glad” – “Strange Fruition”

I just love that line.

Do Everything Necessary To Build The Right Relationships

“My most coveted thing is a high self esteem and a low tolerance for them telling me how to lean.” – “Gold Watch”

Professionally, my most coveted thing is my relationship with Jake Paine. Jake was the Editor-in-Chief of HipHopDX from 2008 until 2013. Over that time, the site increased in profile, doubled in traffic, doubled in respect. In December 2009, I trekked to Newark, New Jersey, crossed two rivers during a blizzard, paid $50 to “cover” a new artist showcase put together by Vegas Records because Paine was sitting on a panel of experts critiquing aspiring talent. I waited through 13 hours of the most mediocre collection of Hip Hop acts America had to offer hoping to snag a few minutes to interview him. My plan was that he’d be so impressed by my knowledge of his career and HipHopDX that he’d offer me the opportunity to freelance for the site. It worked.

Jake is the definition of the Quiet Giant. Jake is younger than me, a better writer, a nicer person, and in this industry, infinitely more accomplished. He’s been doing this since he was a teenager. He's humble. He’s Hip Hop’s William Miller. I’ve never met anyone who’s ever had anything negative to say about him personally or professionally, never seen him shy away from making the hard decisions. He’s the best example of how to have a career in music without drowning in cynicism or complacency. When our previous News Editor left unexpectedly, Jake stayed on board an extra six months to make sure the transition went smoothly. When he finally stepped away last Summer, he added one more notch to his talisman of accomplishments: He steered HipHopDX’s highest trafficked period in the history of the publication. DX’s reputation is a testament to the talents of Jake Paine. I’m not sitting in this seat without him.

Embrace Evolution

“If you are what you say you are / A superstar / Then have no fear / The cameras here” – “Superstar”

Looking back on HipHopDX’s first year in Hollywood, and my first year as Editor-in-Chief, I’m ecstatic about the future. In Andres Tardio, Sparkle Pratt, and Janice Llamoca, we’ve added what I believe to be three of the hungriest, most promising young journalists in the space.

DX Social Media Manager, Mike Trampe continues to study the rapid changes in how information is shared so that we can more effectively foster quality Hip Hop conversations through Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

We’ve evolved our content strategy to include full copy in our Singles and Video sections to help us better contextualize the importance of the music coming from the culture.

We’ve invested in our video program and work daily to improve our visual capabilities because we should punch ourselves in the face if we’re going to be the LA-based publication without cameras.

We have more surprises in store.

Even in DX’s most personality driven era—Andreas Hale's superbly executed blog era—never did this publication sacrifice quality conversation for shallow ball-tickling. That’s why HipHopDX has always been so important to my life. The site always played it straight. So the opportunity ahead is to continue improving at what we do well, extend our core values into compelling visual content, and have exponentially more fun on and off site every single day. Thoughts are physical. Anything less doesn’t exist.

“We all in agreement on the wall paper / Happy with the color scheme / Welcome to the crib” – “Just Might Be Okay”

Justin "The Company Man" Hunte is the Editor-in-Chief of HipHopDX. He was the host of The Company Man Show on PNCRadio.fm and has covered music, politics, and culture for numerous publications. He is currently based in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter @TheCompanyMan.

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  • LT

    Hey Justin, Loved this piece. I can relate a lot towards you in that I have a passion and love for both rap and writing. Words are powerful. I'm looking into the journalism career as well and although I plan on writing sports stories, I wanted to ask if there's some distinct starting point in perhaps writing for rap such as internships, classes, etcetera. I'd love to hear back from you. Thanks or sharing your article! Sincerely, LT

    • Justin Hunte

      Thank you, LT. I think classes are generally helpful when it comes to learning correct grammar, punctuation, etc. At the same time, you can pretty much learn anything on youtube. The biggest thing is to find different publications to contribute to. They don't have to be well known. But the opportunity to showcase your byline will be helpful when pitching stories to larger publications. Outside of that, it's also a great idea to reach out to any and all hip hop organizations in your area. Hip Hop lives in the community so becoming a part of that community will help build relationships and find exclusive stories. You may want to do the same with sports organizations in your area. Hope that helps, LT.

  • Greg MONTREALITY

    Thanks for the inspiration! This piece will inspire me to work harder!

  • Karl fort

    Karl Fort Federal Correctional Institution P.O. Box 1000 Oxford, WI 53952 I am writing this letter in expressing my story regarding the life sentence I received 20 plus years ago and now the only hope that lies in my freedom would be the President commuting my sentence. Just like he did for my codefendent Reynold Wintersmith, on December 19 2013. We were in the same trial group and case; we both were sentence to mandatory life sentences. When I was sentenced on November 21 1994, the sentencing guidelines were mandatory; meaning judges had very little room to exercise discretion, but today under the fair sentencing act we would not have received the mandatory life sentence. Neither crack cocaine amendments allowed relief and none of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions have a retroactive application that allows me any relief. At my sentencing hearing, my judge commented that hopefully in the near future, Congress re-examine the differential of powder and crack cocaine, and if it was up to him he would have sentenced me to the maximum 20 years under the Federal Drug Statute. However by the differential of the drugs, he has no alternative but to sentence me to mandatory life under the guidelines. I accept full responsibility for my conduct concerning the charge offense, at thr time of my arrest I was in my early 20s. Today I am 45 years old and have been incarcerated for 20 plus years as a first time offender under the old 100 to 1 crack\cocaine ratio. I have had ample time to correct the errors in my thinking and decision making process. Instead of becoming embittered with my sentence, I have taken personal developement courses in education and vocational training to better myself as a man. I have also completed numerous drug and alchol courses to help conquer my past abuse of such vices, so that with ever-present hope of eventual release, I can live alchol and drug free. Today my children are grown, some have children on their own, and some are in college. I see and realize that my bad decisions affected my children from having a father. My bad choicrs have affected everyone around me, the pain of 20 plus years in prison is nothing compared to the heartache of not being the man my family needed me to be. I know without a doubt that I can make a difference in other youth lives, to discourage them from a life of gangs and crime. I would like the opportunity to make amends and share the knowledge I learned the hard way. I merely ask to have a chance to live my life as a law abiding citizen. Being an older and wiser man, I now ask that you help me reach President Obama and ask that my sentence be reviewed in the hopes that fairness will prevail. Karl Fort #98345-024, Northern Illinios Rockford Illinios Courthouse, Judge Philip G. Reinhard Case #93-CR-20024-1, Convicted of Count One Conspiracy to Posses with Intent to Distribute Cocaine & Cocaine Base http://www.change.org/petitions/ms-deborah-leff-please-use-your-executive-power-and-commute-the-life-sentence-that-karl-fort-has-been-serving-for-the-last-20-years?share_id=vLMWKgPDln&utm_campaign=share_button_action_box&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

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  • Danny

    Thank you. Thank you for this open and honest article, very moving piece to me as I share some of your sentiments. Inspiring and an all around good read. Keep doing your thing, your words are being heard and felt.

  • DS

    Thanks for make this article, Justin. I am a brazilian man (and hip hop fan) and I've been thinking for a long time to make a blog to cover the brazilian scene. You touch in some points that I liked. Sorry for my french, man. Ha!

  • Anon1

    Man this was one of the best reads I've had in a while from this site. Props to the author! Also gets me excited for the upcoming content and releases from DX. Hope this helps drive other inspiring editors and writers. Only comment I can say that didn't seem to be addressed in the article is can you PLEASE cleanup the comment section? Otherwise thanks for this great read!

  • Ralph

    Justin, 1st off dope article. This piece just gave me motivation to write editorials of my own. Always been reluctant to do it because of the criticism. I am no wordsmith, by any means.

  • young

    justin, i'd check in to make sure Lord Jamar is cool with you being a journalist and all. He gets the final say on who does what and where.

  • jb

    As an aspiring editor myself, I really enjoyed the piece Justin. Always interested in reading about the journey of somebody, rather than their new found perks.

  • Shark

    Dope how it helps out both writers & non-writers on the way you penned it. "Keep writing..." is the mantra. I remember around 2010, ya'll brought in guest artists to write blog entries...any chance that might happen again in the future? Hard to be Hip Hop, but we gotta do this!

    • Justin Hunte

      I appreciate you, Shark! Thank you. We still do those pieces. Check out one we did last year with RA The Rugged Man. He penned an editorial on Rick Ross that was an incredible read. We also enlisted Apollo Brown last year as well. Definitely something we're looking into more often. Thank you for reading.

  • Chris S

    Justin, I don't know if I am more impressed with your writing, or the fact that you sneakily (if that's a word) quoted Just Might Be OK. I want to share a paper I wrote with you. I had to do a analysis of a piece by this poet named Harryette Mullen. And what I did was compared one of her poems with Lupe Fiasco's first verse from The Coolest. I got a D+ on it (which was totally bogus), but I think you would enjoy it - especially with your apparent knowledge of Lupe

    • Justin Hunte

      That sounds incredibly interesting. Not the D+ part, but you know what I mean. Ha! Hit me on facebook and I'll take a look.

    • Mike J

      Great Article Justin! I have read Chris' paper as well and will have to wholeheartedly agree with him that you would enjoy it. An excellent read for anyone who enjoyed this article as much as i did.

  • The Azrael

    Justin, Great article! I always thought of Lupe as a turning point of Hip-Hop, he made skateboards, rhyming skills, robots and backpacks COOL in Urban areas. To this day if you look, a lot of young artists you see the trend Lupe started; Wolf Gang, Joey Bad A$$, ASAP etc... you clearly see the influence, because they were kids in early/mid 2000s. I feel like every era we will have someone who will have that influence, wether it's good or bad. It's part of music culture, one person starts a trend and it lasts until it gets diluted and other person starts another. Great piece! Good Luck!

    • Justin Hunte

      Absolutely. There's a very real argument to be made that he still is. "F&L 2" and "Yeezus" have a lot of similarities. "Blood on the leaves" with the "Strange Fruit" sample. The first song on F&L2 was "Strange Fruition." Lupe's went with the all Black, no color cover. Ye went with the no cover at all. F&L2 is by far Lu's angriest album just like Yeezus is by far Ye's angriest. You can play this game all day. Thanks for the compliment and for reading. I appreciate it.

  • Anonymous

    Was a huge Lupe fan until about Friend of The People dropped. Don't get me wrong I'm still a big Lupe fan, nigga too nice with the lyrics. At the time when he was doing his social activist stuff it was cool, but if I wanted to hear that I would listen to an actual social activist. Coming from Fahrenheit to F&L and The Cool etc. the music just started to get too preachy. I'm hoping Testou and Youth brings back that Fahrenheit Lupe back gettin grimey with the shit. Thot 97 is crazy btw

    • Justin Hunte

      I don't blame Lupe. I think we all get to a point where we want to scream. It's like that scene in the movie "Funny People" with Adam Sandler where he's doing stand up comedy. He says, "In my 20s, I was like, 'I'm DRUNK AND PARTYING!!! WHOO!!' In my 30s I was like, 'I'M ANGRY! THIS IS BULLSHIT' Now I'm in my 40s and I'm like, 'I'M HUNGRY!'" Ha! I always thought that was funny. I hear you on the preachiness, though. Personally, I don't mind it. But it's hard to avoid the tag when the first line on the second song on your third album is "I REALLY THINK THE WAR ON TERROR IS A BUNCH OF BULLSHIT" and the first line on the first song on your fourth album is "NOW I CAN"T PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO YOUR FLAG / CAUSE I CAN'T FIND NO RECONCILIATION WITH YOUR PAST." "Twilight Zone" suddenly seems like a looooong time ago and yet never more apropos. Dope comment, Anonymous. Thank you.

  • JR

    The one thing I think is a bit of let down with HipHopDX is that it doesn't cover hip-hop books that well, or at all in some cases. There are some really dope and important books coming out on hip-hop, such as a book on J Dilla's Donuts in the 33 1/3 books series, there was a book called "The Cultural Impact of Kanye West" that came out recently, and a short while back there was "How To Rap 2" and "Rhymin and Stealin", both of which were great. I think as a serious hip-hop site it would add a lot of value to keep people informed on the sort of in depth documentation that is coming out on hip-hop... it feels like you're missing out on a whole area of hip-hop studies. It's easy for big sites such as yourself to get free review copies of all the books from the publishers, so it would be cool to see a review once in a while, even going back to some of the older books. Or if not reviews then at least a heads-up on when hip-hop books come out.

    • Justin Hunte

      That's a great point. We've done book reviews here and there, but never consistently. Sadly, there hasn't much of an appetite with our audience, but how difficult is it to at least find a way to show which books are on the way. We have a Release Dates page, after all. I'll run this by the team to see what they think. Thanks for brining this up.

  • Sergio

    I feel that anyone that cared enough to understand what Lupe was saying on a track was an instant fan! And there life became more positive.. I can admit that.. Plus is there rapper better live then Lupe? I mean good god i saw him in the house of blues in hollywood last year INCREDIBLE!! Not sure what he is trying to do with his new album but hey Lupe's worst is better then most at there best so yeah... This article was trippy btw... LUPE LUPE LUPE!!

    • Justin Hunte

      King Los can. King Los can do everything Lupe can do lyrically. He just needs to learn how to write songs. Outside of LosKendrick is the closest. The song "good kid" always feels Lupe inspired to me.

    • Anonymous

      I always ask this question honestly, what rapper is doing what Lupe is doing lyrically? Lupe really blacks out on the similes and metaphors. Besides Jay I can't think of another rapper that can really go in depth the same way lyrically.

    • Justin Hunte

      I was there too. I thought the "Album Preview Tour" concept was dope. It was weird seeing him without the band, though.

    • Anonymous

      Fuck yeah I was there too. It was fucking sick man.

  • LD

    You learned to let the awesome out.

  • Hunit Stackz

    WHO DO I HAVE TO KIDNAP TO GET MY MUSIC FEATURED ON THIS SITE? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98IOr7zMTf0 GREAT READ BY THE WAY, I FELT YOU ON THIS !!

  • CP

    1 suggestion, get rid of the trollers, lot of ignorant and racist commenters on here

    • Justin Hunte

      That's a good one. You'll see changes on that front as well. Step by step. I appreciate the suggestion.

  • Jizockk

    Really dope piece, lot of insight and perspective.

  • RR

    Justin, You made a grammatical mistake with this sentence: "Soren never seems to be elevated or distracted his success." ...Ha! Just messing with you, since, as you alluded to, little things like that really bug you. I too am a writer (have written two articles for DX in fact), so I know EXACTLY what you mean. This was a great column...

    • RR

      I friend-requested you on Facebook (my initials are RR)...Hit me up and we'll chop it up.

    • Justin Hunte

      Ha! You know I immediately went back and corrected that!! Thank you for the comment and for reading. Writer to writer, it means a lot. Would love to see some of your work.

  • e

    Lupe for me is good, but good god he's also boring at times. Almost like listening to a documentary over beats. Revenge of The Nerds nowadays simply because we are in such a common technological age where ppl seem smarter since they each have access to the same information (other ppls thoughts) more frequently. In my opinion deductive reasoning is what makes one intelligent, not memorization. Nice article, professional and distinct in presentation. To each his own since hip hop is now both underground (worldwide), and pop up (commercial) at the same time. Shot out to J.Paine for being what he was, and for every one who comes after for being who they are. For now their is a blueprint to follow. May not be the same, but as long as it continues, long after you're gone, you can say you've done enough. -e-

    • Justin Hunte

      I appreciate that, sir. Thank you. I can see your point about Lupe. Songs like "Animal Farm," for example sound more like a guy intentionally trying to be complicated rather than just getting to the point. Joints like "Switch" or "Unforgivable Youth" or even "Sunshine" exemplify how relatable he can be. I'd love to a documentary on everything that happened between The Cool and LASERS. Those were rough years for Fiasco fans. Thanks for the comment.

  • MattieLMurray

    my best friend's sister-in-law makes $71 hourly on the laptop . She has been without work for five months but last month her income was $12576 just working on the laptop for a few hours. straight from the source >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> http://ao.co.za/61LX0A

  • MattieLMurray

    my best friend's sister-in-law makes $71 hourly on the laptop . She has been without work for five months but last month her income was $12576 just working on the laptop for a few hours. straight from the source >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> http://ao.co.za/61LX0A

  • Anonymous

    I've been visiting this website for 5 years, everyday, out of habit of course. I've seen the gradual changes that have resulted into what the website has become now, which isn't impressive. HHDX used to have a Top 10 singles list where semi-known/underground artists had their songs up, which in turn gave those artists exposure, a bigger fan base, and traffic to your website. What has happened? That list has turned into a top 10 list filled with songs that are played on 102.7 KIIS FM. Articles have become all about "Lord Jamar Says" or so and so says they (click the link to this article) enjoy pancakes with Aunt Jemimas low sugar syrup. There is rarely any real journalism, such as this article by Justin. It seems as if you have staff scavenging twitter posts trying to post worthy tweets as articles just to receive page views. I took my time to write this because I was a fan of the old HHDX. Don't forget where you guys came from, just because you guys are becoming more mainstream. This is why along with HHDX's gradual shift towards the the cliff, viewers have switched to HNHH. One.

    • Duh

      HNHH doesn't have ANY good editorials, journalism, etc....So WTF are you talking about? lol

    • Anonymous

      And I also failed to mention this was a really dope read. I think Lupe has inspired a lot of us dream chasers. Shout out to Wasalu!

    • The man who posted the first comment

      I appreciate the thorough response big homie. Much love.

    • hip hop citizen

      you are honest- not a lot of websites are this transparent - meaning the moves they're going to make. do your thing DX. btw this was a great read.

    • Justin Hunte

      Ha! That's dope! Personal favorite comment of the day. Thank you, sir. I appreciate the support. Never hesitate to let us know what we can do better. "Jay Hunt"...I love it!

    • Jay Hunt

      Hey this is the fake Justin Hunte. It's nice to be acknowledged. Sorry about using your name, bro. Big fan. Just wanted people to know that HipHopDx is a great site that caters to the modern-day fan.

    • Justin Hunte

      Ha! While I don't disagree with the perspective of the first "Justin Hunte" who replied to your comment, I deleted it because I didn't write it. Full disclosure. Shouts to all of our DX readers. I'm trying to get better at replying to comments because when I first started checking this site in 2004, I hated when no one would reply to me. #PainsOfProgress

    • Justin Hunte

      I just saw your second comment. The widget on the front page is still determined by readers. We've changed the layout a bit, the methodology is the same. We also run a Top Ten Singles story every Saturday recapping the week in music. Take a look tomorrow and let us know what you think. Thanks again.

    • Justin Hunte

      Thank you for your comment, anonymous. Honesty is the only way things will ever improve. We have to use our voices and you did so respectfully. I always appreciate that. Thank you. I think every organization goes through various life cycles. Apple failed miserably with their Maps iPhone app recently, for example, and Samsung is making headway. DX isn't exempt from the results of trial and error by any means. There's always an element of shedding that comes with any type of growth. It's not always comfortable, but it is a part of the process. More specifically to your point, in 2013 we started experimenting with new ways to highlight new artists. DJBooth.net, Datpiff, Livemixtapes, HNHH all do incredible jobs hosting projects from new artists. They're all doing incredible jobs highlighting music by the unheard. The same can be said for Worldstar. I don't look at online publications as competition. We all need each other. If we're not sharing each other's content, then we're limiting our opportunity to grow our audiences and are potentially under reporting what's happening in Hip Hop, which is why we ALWAYS site sources from wherever we pull content and we regularly use embeds from new artists that are featured on the sites I mentioned previously. But here's the thing: DX publishes at least 120 News stories alone each week. And at least 40 of those are Exclusives. That's a third of the content in one section. That's before you toss the now 12 to 15 weekly exclusives in Singles and Videos and the daily long form, all exclusive content between Album Reviews, Interviews, Editorials, Interviews, and Lists. We're publishing nearly 150 AP-style written stories a week. Add the songs and videos posted without copy and we're approaching 800 posts of some sort each month. We realize that a portion of our audience loves scouring the internet for new music, just like we realize that a significant portion of our audience values our long form content or catching up what they're favorite emcee from any era might say. Our goal is to find the best way to reach all of our demographics every single day and make sure we never make the same mistakes twice. So while we continue to work to improve our ability to host new music from new artists and improving our headlines and the quality of our copy and the quality of our storytelling and our ability to judge relevancy, we're also actively working on ways to innovate. For example, one of the things that you might've noticed is that we've discontinued our Slept-On-But-Dope series. Instead, we publish a new Hollywood Freestyle every sunday. Every day we invite a promising new artist to come by the office, kick a freestyle that we shoot on the roof along with giving them the opportunity to talk about who they are. Check out the HipHopDX youtube channel when you have a moment and let us know in the comments section what you think of their talents. We'll begin rolling out the interview portions on Youtube and DX in the coming weeks as well. So we've essentially taken dope new artists and put them on two sites, doubling the communities in which they get to build their reputations through the DX audience. It's just a small piece of the puzzle we're constantly working on as we continue to walk towards our next check point. I sincerely appreciate your comment and thank you for being respectful. No one in #DXHQ is perfect. But no one in #DXHQ has ill intentioned either. We're all a part of the Hip Hop community and you letting us know what we can do better helps tremendously. Thank you.

    • Anonymous

      Just because something evolves (devolves?) or changes, it doesn't mean it is for the better of the future. Providing exposure to already popular mainstream artists doesn't do anything for the future of hip hop. It just improves their bottom line, and by attracting more viewers (who perhaps aren't bothered by the intricacies of hip hop) it brings you more traffic and therefore more money. I get that like every other major hip hop website that this is a business and therefore there is a constant struggle between pleasing the "heads" who regular these kinds of websites and making money. So why don't you just be honest and admit making money, as a goal, is winning out? I see no other excuse for posting so many sensationalist articles. It's cool though, I would do the same in your shoes.

    • TheUnknown

      This site use to be hot - I use to always check the top 10 hitlist - the tracks use to be real hip hop and not that bubble gum/pop rap. I dnt know where it fell off - but it has - it needs to go back to the roots. Yeh, okay maybe the music that is not out aint hot enough but I guess we will never know! Am just too old I guess! how do you support something you dnt like! bring the hitlist back! dnt make me listen to what you want me to listen to... I want to listen to good hiphop!

    • Justin Hunte

      Look, man, we appeal to the old fans AND the new, modern fans of hip hop music. We can't just revert to what we used to be just to please the old fan. In life things have to evolve, constantly change for the better of the future. Remember that.

    • Jon

      Preach! Aside from its editorials, which is generally positive, it's like any other Hip-Hop site.

    • Anonymous

      I forgot to mention that the old Top 10 list was formed by the votes of the viewers.

  • Anonymous

    this is cool... BUT WHAT DOES LORD JAMAR SAY ABOUT JOURNALISM?