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3 Lessons From the Founder of WorldStarHipHop, Who Died Monday

Lee 'Q' O'Denat, who created the influential site, stood for what he believed in in the face of public criticism.
3 Lessons From the Founder of WorldStarHipHop, Who Died Monday
Image credit: Daniel Zuchnik | Getty Images

Lee "Q" O’Denat, the founder of R-rated website WorldStarHipHop, a cultural mainstay infamous for its fight videos, died on Monday. He was 43.

O’Denat was found unresponsive at a massage parlor in San Diego. The father of three apparently suffered from atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. People described O’Denat as “brilliant” and “one of the nicest, most generous persons to ever grace this planet.”

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Although WorldStarHipHop faced criticism for the violent and sexual content it published, it became a hub for refreshingly honest content and even produced a number of documentaries and its own clothing line. From street fights to music videos -- the site produced an array of content and shed light on matters such as crime in Chicago and the reality of violence in the hip-hop industry.

From its launch in 2005, the website grew so popular that today it reports 2 million visitors a week. Needless to say, O’Denat left a legacy. Check out these three things you can learn from the hip-hop entrepreneur.

1. Inspiration is all around you.

Sometimes we don’t realize that what we’re looking for is right in front of us. When O’Denat was brainstorming an idea for a website in 2005, he recalled his travels and realized that everywhere he went there was a universal love of hip-hop.

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"It reminded me just how much hip-hop is the star of the world, hence the name WorldStarHipHop," he told The Huffington Post in 2014. He also noticed the growing presence of video on the internet, and became a fan of YouTube. That’s when he decided to combine the two and create WSHH.

2. Believe in your vision.

Although O’Denat’s website stirred much controversy, it didn’t faze him. With backlash over the sexual and violent content on WorldStarHipHop, O’Denat stood by his company and what he believed in.

"Hip-hop is for the sex, the drugs, the violence, the beefs, the culture," O'Denat told The New York Times. "People may be offended by some of the content, but, hey, the internet is not a censorship boat.”

3. Be true to yourself.

Despite public scrutiny, O’Denat didn’t launch WSHH simply to go against the public norm, fill a gap or provide racy content. His harsh yet realistic approach made WSHH refreshing for its audience -- enough that it once garnered more than a million viewers in a single day in 2012. Still, it had its detractors, with many questioning what impact the site has on perceptions of African-Americans.

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"Some people live trapped. They don’t want to get wild because they feel like they’re being judged for this. With black people, we’re just ourselves," O'Denat told Gawker in 2014. "We have negative stereotypes, sure -- we like chicken, we like to drink, we go the the strip club -- but every race has negative stereotypes. We just have to love ourselves, admire ourselves. Know that only God can judge you. Don’t worry about the critics."