When the 1,193 of you subscribed to Hip Hop Blogs years ago, you thought the purpose of this site was to share cool links and advance interesting discussions about this hip-hop culture of ours. Not so.
This site was designed from the start to serve only The 17. Let me explain.
The Real StoryI started blogging about rap music back in 2003. This is before Facebook was invented. This is before web video was easy with YouTube, and way before Twitter.
According to my Googling at that time, no one in the universe was blogging about hip-hop. So, I jumped in and did it first. Later I found that two guys beat me to the self-publishing punch by less than a season. However, one guy is M.I.A. and the other is too modest to contradict my Original Rap Blogger status. So, for now, he is I and I am him.
I started on Blogger and moved to Typepad. I spilled all of my reckless, uninformed thoughts out through the digital ether, and my little audience clicked with me and grew beyond what I could have imagined.
However, I wasn't attention greedy. Every time a new hip-hop blogger sprouted wings, I was there to give him encouragement to be fly. I pushed people to turn on RSS feeds back no one knew what it was used for. I pulled people into the community conversation, knowing that our cross-links would rise all of our boats in the web content waters.
I created an email group that was only built for rap blogger links and shared every new web publishing trick I learned. I helped as much as I could with whoever I could. I wasn't the most popular, the Michael Jackson of the game. Or the Will Smith of the circle. I was the Quincy Jones.
Despite years of evangelizing I saw that the funniest, most insightful, most inspiring voices in the music culture I loved were still not blogging. For them the tech and time it took to build a blog was too much. Bootleg forums were their only outlet (remember again, this was before the social media glut that's out there now. You kids have it so good).
This is where the need for the group site, Hip Hop Blogs came from. I wanted to create a platform and invite all the smart people I could find to speak their truth here. Sorry, 1,193 subscribers. I was using you as a springboard for them.
And jump they did.
There are 17 guest bloggers here.
Eskay started here, blogging about mixtapes. He created his own blog called Nahright and he is kind of a big deal.
Michael Miraflor started here. He spun out and created his own blog and email list about hip-hop advertising. For years he's been sharing his knowledge and using his connections to help small timers become big timers.
But the gang of 17 were all volunteers. When SOHH allowed me to try out the Hip Hop Blogs concept on their bigger site, I was able to cut checks for Ron Mexico, Fresh of Crunk and Disorderly, Angela of Concrete Loop, Eskay, and others. It was the first time any of these talented people were flipped coin for their words. Each of them moved on and became certified entrepreneurs, confident that there was value to their work. They're the real Young Money.
My Magic CareerA funny thing happened while I was out helping others. My own career in the entertainment industry took off.
It began with my appearance as a pundit on cable TV and New York radio. It steamrolled with offers for consulting, a book deal, and inquiries from major brands wanting to advertise with me. I was invited to exclusive events, met cool people, and promosexuals sent me a ton of swag to wear, listen to, and read.
Before Hip Hop Blogs I had no intentions of working for the media companies I grew up admiring, like BET, Vibe, and Def Jam. Just the opposite. As a passionate fan, I blogged about those companies with intense love and intense criticism.
My friends who were already in the game warned me that swag exhibitions like my public feud with XXL Magazine's EIC would sink my career before it started. Instead, the same dude who dissed me in his magazine's editorial section three months in a row offered me a job the next year.
I broke the entertainment industry rules every which way, yet it has paid off. I've never worked the coffee pot as an intern. I never finished college. I've never used a business card. I don't "network". And I don't go to industry parties. What gives?
The Scientifical Explanation
Whenever a co-worker hears about my unconventional career path I'm always asked the same question - "How can I use social media to help with my own career?"
They want to know how to jump over gatekeepers and get the attention of decision makers. They want to know how to connect with interesting people and collaborate on projects. They want to know how to sharpen and communicate their "personal brand" (not my favorite word in the world, but it's the one I hear used in my circle.)
I used to shrug off the question and mumble something about being lucky, but recently I've been more thoughtful. How can I reverse engineer what has helped me? What advice would I give my old self with the knowledge and experience I have today?
I've learned there's a science to what has happened with me. Here's the formula - generosity triggers reciprocation. Humans are hardwired to give back to people who give first.
The industry began to know me, like me, and trust me because of how much I gave to others. How else do you explain me being hired as an editor for four media companies (and counting) when I have a blog full of typos? :)
But who the heck cares about my success, other than Ms. Warren and Mrs. Warren? That's not what I have you here for.
I'm starting a new blog that will help you. That is, it will help if you are asking the question, "How can I use social media to help with my own career?". And that's only if you work in the film, music, or television industry, like me (everyone else is on their own. The stuff I suggest might get you fired if you're not working in a creative field).
Here's how I'm kicking off the new blog. I'm re-retiring Hip Hop Blogs this week. Before I do, I'll post the stories of all the gigs I snagged in the industry, and trace how my web presence made the difference.
At the end of all that, if the stories inspire you to take control and do your career your own way, I'll give you the link to my new blog. Since I have a sharing disease, I plan to obsessively help everyone I can do everything they want using social media. In that way the new blog will be like the old one, just with a different topic.
If you don't like this at all, avert your browser's eyes and go back to downloading Wale freestyles on You Heard That New, and Twitter-hating on Justin Bieber for no good reason (let that kid be great). If you do like, stick around. This will be fun.
Sign up read the new blog, Career Green Light that just launched!