Among humans, Q’s best ally turned out to be lifelong friend Yves Ceac, better known as DJ Whoo Kid. (He declined to comment for this story.) When the G-Unit juggernaut began picking up steam in 2001, Q founded NYCPhatMixtapes.com as Whoo Kid’s official Web site. He was living in public housing in central Pennsylvania but selling New York’s hottest hip-hop commodities: 50 Cent Is the Future, Guess Who’s Back? and other mixtapes featuring 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo. “I was just another part of the entourage,” says Q, of his relationship with G-Unit. “50 used to see me and say, ‘What’s up?’—he recognized my face—but he didn’t give a fuck about me.”
50, who says he’s in litigation with World Star for incorporating his likeness into the original WSHH logo has been disturbed by the platform Q provided to 50’s opponents. “If there’s a dispute between me and another artist, there’s more online traffic. People trying to keep up with it. Almost like a soap opera,” says 50. “When that happens, he tries to cover the other side of it as much as possible so he can have exclusive content. Because he can’t have exclusive content with thisis50.com being in existence.”
In 2005, Q launched WorldStarHipHop.com as a digital download site. There was good money to be made selling physical copies of mixtapes for $15, but he couldn’t handle the shipping responsibilities. Here, for a monthly fee, members could download an assortment of mixtapes, not just G-Unit material. In 2007, Q decided to start showcasing videos. He posted an ad on GetACoder.com seeking a freelance computer programmer. It requested “EXACTLY THE SAME EVERYTHING FEATURES” as OnSmash.net, another popular hip-hop site. Shortly after WorldStarHipHop appropriated its layout, hackers took it down and, according to Q, declared vengeance for OnSmash. (OnSmash declined to comment for this story.) It took seven months to fix. “I felt like quitting, like, ‘Fuck the Internet,’” Q says.
When World Star returned, it was simplified into a video aggregator. The mix of music, violence and humor proved addictive, and the rise of streaming video, Facebook and Twitter spread the site’s heavily watermarked material across the Web. Record labels began providing “exclusive” content. Its first substantial premiere was Ace Hood’s 2008 single “Cash Flow,” and artists such as Rick Ross and Waka Flocka Flame have since debuted videos on the site. In an era when artists shoot quick, low-budget videos lacking the production values or commercial appeal for MTV or BET, WorldStarHipHop.com provides an ideal outlet. For his part, Q gives himself ultimate credit.
“I’m like Black Jesus,” he says. “I talk to everybody, the scum of the earth. I’m down there in the mud. I treat everybody the same, from Puffy to the nobody with $500 for a video. That’s what people love about the site.”
It’s a chilly night in Alexandria, La., and Q is looking to party. He’s just cornered a glassy-eyed busboy at Texas Roadhouse, a steak joint with peanut shells on the floor and stuffed jackalopes on the wall. “So where do you go to look at pussy and tits?” he asks. The kid, mortified into near silence, finally mutters something about a nasty place with pregnant dancers. “I thought that was an urban legend,” says Q. “That would make some good footage.”
Q is only in this sleepy town to show support for Kat Stacks, the notorious groupie being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He has signed her to World Star as a celebrity/rapper/villain, and she isn’t earning anything behind bars. But this afternoon was a bust. After Q, a cameraman, the lawyer, Kat’s mother and Kat’s son drove out to the courthouse at the Bureau of Prisons Federal Correctional Complex in Oakdale, they learned she wouldn’t be freed for a few more weeks.