Worldstarhiphop.com is one of the most visited entertainment websites in the world. The site features music videos from both well-established artists and up-and-coming performers. It also highlights videos that depict violent acts often committed by young, black individuals. In response to those depictions of violence, activist and writer Rahiel Tesfamariam penned an op-ed for the Washington Post titled “Death of World Star Hip Hop (D.O.WSHH).”
In the article, Tesfamariam calls for World Star to experience “brand damaging from hip-hop artists and community activists” similar to Jay Z’s take down of auto-tune on his 2009 track “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-tune).” While acknowledging WSHH’s right to freedom of speech, she also brands the website as “one of the most culturally damaging media platforms in existence today.”
Tesfamariam is just the latest public figure to offer criticism of World Star. Last year members of the Zulu Nation started a petition to persuade the site to remove “Hip Hop” from its name. The Minister of Information for the Zulu Nation, Quadeer “MC Spice” Shakur, argued that World Star was misrepresenting the foundations and true principles of Hip Hop.
[ALSO READ: Grandmaster Melle Mel & Quadeer “MC Spice” Shakur Address WorldStarHipHop.com Petition]
“WorldStarHipHop has no respect, as far as I’m concerned, for our people and our music,” Shakur told AllHipHop.com last March. “If it was in fact just a site for what we call ‘entertainment’ then let it be known at the bottom of your page. Put some kind of disclaimer that you are not in fact involved in or a part of real Hip Hop culture.”
In the same article, one of the forefathers of Hip Hop, Grandmaster Melle Mel, also expressed his opinion that WSHH was not a true representation of the culture.
“WorldStarHipHop has no more to do with Hip Hop than FedEx has to do with the federal government,” said Melle Mel.
While World Star has its critics, the site also has its defenders. Huff Post Live hosted the Google+ discussion “Do ‘Hood Sites’ Normalize Black Stereotypes?” moderated by Marc Lamont Hill. Panelist Mandon Lovett offered his take that WSHH is only shining a light on the violence that’s happening in urban America. The independent filmmaker reinforced World Star’s tag that the site is the “CNN of the Ghetto.”
Chicago rapper Rhymefest also defended World Star during the Huff Post exchange. He points out that other video streaming sites provide the same type of content as WSHH.
“We’re not here talking about YouTube,” said Rhymefest. “We’re not here talking about Vimeo. We’re not sitting here talking about all of these sites that do the same thing that World Star does.”
In her WashPost piece, Tesfamariam addresses those who stand up for WSHH.
“To defend World Star Hip Hop is to defend the normalization of violent stereotypes and exploitation of pain, anger and brokenness,” she writes.