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URB ‘The Next 100’: Philadelphia Webmasters

Philadelphia has long been a hotbed of overlooked creativity and inventiveness, and not just in the musical realm. In today’s digital age, the main Internet hubs are San Francisco and New York City, but Philly is quietly making important contributions.

Originally printed in URB magazine
April 2001
Page 111

Written by Pete Babb

The Next 100: Philadelphia Webmasters | URB
The Next 100: Philadelphia Webmasters | URB

“I think of Philly as the child who got picked on in school and then turned out to be a supermodel,” says Angela Nissen, co-creator and webmaster of Okayplayer.com, the online home of The Roots, Common, Dilated Peoples, among others. “There’s always been so much talent here, but we’ve lived in the shadow of New York, and that makes people here tray a little harder.” Indeed, while gaudier hip-hop sites have come and gone, sites coming from Philly have not only set standards, but have also enjoyed longevity. Okayplayer is one of the most popular hip-hop destinations on the Web, providing visitors with the lowdown on recent events and fun arcana about the musicians (and each other).

The Next 100: Philadelphia Webmasters | URB
The Next 100: Philadelphia Webmasters | URB

Hieroglyphics.com, helmed by Philly’s Stinke, is a prototype for forming an online community around a group. Hieroglyphics.com was originally a fan site, but Hiero partnered with it when Souls of Mischief’s Tajai stumbled across it one day. The union kept Hiero afloat and in the public eye when they were dropped from major labels and regrouped to form their Hieroglyphics Imperium indie. “We had contests and chats, things like that, early on,” muses Stinke. “We did stuff differently and had a lot of sites looking to us for direction, so we drew attention that way. Hiero was preparing 3rd Eye Vision, and they used the site to keep in touch with their fan base during that lull.” The site succeeded by creating a true sense of community among fans, a trait that still runs strong today.

Mike Jung, webmaster of Mountainbrothers.com, also found success using the community-based model. “Back in ’95, it was hard to get your name out if you weren’t on a label,” he points out, “but the Internet was a cost-effective way of reaching a lot of people.” To generate buzz, Jung used e-mail lists and other online promos to draw people to the Mountain Brothers’ self-released debut. Jung plans to again leverage the site with the Brothers’ forthcoming sophomore album.

Looking toward the expansive future of online hip-hop, Philly may not always get its due props, but it’s online reps are writing e-history regardless. — Pete Babb

Reproduced on Hieroglyphics.org for educational purposes.

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Print / Magazine

‘High School Student’s Internet Business,’ Newsweek

“Even if you are young, as long as you have the talent, you can create a business online.” – Friedberg

Originally published in: Newsweek magazine, Japanese Edition
July 1st, 1996
Page 11, “Cyber Biz”
Please note: Translated from Japanese

High School Student's Internet Business | Newsweek
High School Student’s Internet Business | Newsweek

As the internet explodes, a new business model is developing alongside it: the internet is giving a chance for young entrepreneurs to create their own businesses online.

High School Student's Internet Business | Newsweek
High School Student’s Internet Business | Newsweek

Binyameen Friedberg, who created the website, “Tha Threshold,” is a high school student. He originally made the site for his friends who like music and graffiti. But within only 8 months it became a small business.

It links to many hip-hop sites, and it also sells demo tapes from independent artists, [Hieroglyphics] and features a chat forum.

Binyameen says he is very happy that he was able to start this website while in high school, and he will continue to work and improve the site even when he attends university next year.

Reproduced on Hieroglyphics.org for educational purposes.

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Print / Magazine

‘Hip-Hop Takes the Prize: Net N the Hood,’ Entertainment Weekly

Originally published in Entertainment Weekly magazine
April 23, 1999
Page 69

Written by Leslie Marable

Hip-Hop Takes the Prize: Net N the Hood | Entertainment Weekly
Hip-Hop Takes the Prize: Net N the Hood | Entertainment Weekly

What do you call the online Grammys of hip-hop? How about a digital rapper’s delight? On March 30, 1,000 MC wannabes packed NYC club Tramps to celebrate the third annual Online Hip-Hop Awards and party with stars like Chuck D, Grandmaster Flash, and Naughty by Nature, while online viewers around the world watched the event in RealVideo and chatted with artists like Canibus.

Backed by musical portal Support Online Hip-Hop (www.sohh.com), among others, the festive five-hour show gave props to 11 sites picked by more than 300,000 online voters in 12 categories.

Hip-Hop Takes the Prize: Net N the Hood | Entertainment Weekly
Hip-Hop Takes the Prize: Net N the Hood | Entertainment Weekly

The evening’s big winner was the Hieroglyphics (www.hieroglyphics.com) — the rap collective won for both Best Artist and Online Hip-Hop Award of the Year.

Other winners had the swagger of a true MC: Webmaster Mike Pizzo, whose sick e-zine HipHopSite (www.hiphopsite.com) snagged the award for Website of the Year, quoted from A Tribe Called Quest after his win: “I never let a statue tell me how nice I am.” Maybe the OHHA should consider a new category: Best Braggadocio. — Leslie Marable.

Reproduced on Hieroglyphics.org for educational purposes.

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Print / Magazine

‘StinkE Bomb,’ VIBE Magazine

There’s been a big stink on the Internet lately, and it’s been emanating from www.hieroglyphics.com, the official home of the Hieroglyphics family (Souls of Mischief, Del thafunkeehomosapien, Casual, Extra Prolific, Pep Love & JBiz).

Originally printed in VIBE magazine
November, 1996
Page 132, “Tech Look”

Written by Gregg Bishop

StinkE Bomb | VIBE
StinkE Bomb | VIBE

Hieroglyphics Online is the creation of Yameen Friedberg’s StinkE Productions. Friedberg — whose nom de Web is StinkE — is an 18-year-old hip hop-loving Hiero fan who started his site in August, 1995 as a tribute to his favorite crew.

While the Web is littered with other such personalized sites devoted to favorite artists, the best many young fans can hope for is to attract a few hits now and then. What StinkE didn’t know was Tajai (Souls of Mischief) stumbled onto his site and loved it. Shortly after, Hieroglyphics baptized the site as its official home on the Net and now offer exclusive, unreleased songs and Hiero merchandise such as T-shirts and mix tapes. Now that most of the Hiero crew are unsigned and independent, the site will become the marketing backbone of their soon-to-be-released (and tentatively titled) Family Album.

StinkE Bomb | VIBE
StinkE Bomb | VIBE

So why would a college freshman stay up till four in the morning programming and maintaining the immensely popular site? “Well, I just love hip hop, and I love Hiero,” says StinkE. “It’s something that I wanted to do for them, and just them recognizing me was the greatest reward.” Hieroglyphics were apparently not the only ones checking for him; American Records wanted him to do a Chino XL page, but for StinkE, each project must be a labor of love. “I couldn’t feel his style,” he says. “And for me to promote an artist, I have to be 100 percent into him; otherwise it’ll end up wack.” — Gregg Bishop.

Reproduced on Hieroglyphics.org for educational purposes.

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