MIAMI — Hip Hop has a new face.
And it’s not inked on an album cover or sportin’ a hat sideways. It’s Deeperthanrap.com, Rick Ross’ new social networking site for Hip-Hop aficionados. The site, which launched on Nov. 5, enables YouTube video uploads, has a MySpace-style social networking capability, news and entertainment, and more importantly, it serves as an exchange of ideas and talents.
“Its kind of a one-stop-shop for the Hip-Hop connoisseur,” said Fernando Watson, the Maybach Music president, who also worked closely with the site’s development.
Among the site’s uses are links to competing Hip-Hop sites. He explained that since the website provides links to places like AllHipHop.com, visitors don’t have to feel as if they’re “jumping around to every site.”
A short decade ago, giving props to competition was a foreign concept. Imagine if Tupac had a site with links to Biggie’s page… Crazy, but with the onset of DeeperThanRap.com and other Hip-Hop networking sites like Russell Simmons’ Global Grind – sites that survive based on bringing the global music community together – old school Hip-Hop rivalry is dead. A new age of Hip Hop has emerged.
“The greatest losses in this game is Tupac and Biggie,” Ross said. The local Carol City rapper was projected onto the music map with his hit single “Hustlin.” Ross later went Gold when his “Port of Miami” album sold 700,000 copies. In retrospect of the East Coast-West Coast feuds, Ross said, “I feel we could have been collaborating and getting more money, getting richer, making our kids multi-millionaires.”
The money talk may sound superficial at first – and since the site, which is named after Ross’ upcoming album, heavily promotes himself (he even calls for applications for a personal assistant job) it can also sound like a marketing tool – but Ross explains his fundamental reason for creating DeeperThanRap.com is anything but superficial, it’s personal.
“By taking me ten years to get on, ten years of struggling, being independent doing mix tapes – I just wanna do what I can for the next artist,” said Ross. “Especially the next artist that’s in position and can deserve it.”
While the site can be seen as a springboard to launch an artist into Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em” proportions (the YouTube “Crank That” sensation) readers should be wary. The site wasn’t made to cater to the mainstream candy-pop industry. Its focus is on the streets – a sort of ode to Ross’ versatility and struggles.
“It’s just real Hip-Hop in its rawest form,” said Watson.
“Jockin My Gangsta” by Young Breed, is one of the videos uploaded by DeeperThanRap.com. It provides a glimpse into the site’s direction. The video begins with rapper Young Breed talking to the camera. A SmokeProfits.com logo drops down the screen. A hypnotic beats kick in. The music video starts, and Breed raps in a smoky studio.
“… I’m street certified to ride, besides you Ni–a lied, you ain’t seen no pie.” The video doesn’t have any fancy graphics, and is obviously low budget, but the catchy beat has you hittin’ play a few times. A song like this would never make it to the radio, and now, it doesn’t have to.
Urban party promoter Michael Madd, who is responsible to the popular, weekly Miami Live, sees how Ross’ website fits today’s Hip-Hop mentality. Madd credits Ross for seeing the big picture when it comes to unifying a music community, especially bringing artists who focus on the streets to light.
“They’re not benefiting off the radio,” Madd said of the challenges this music genre faces mainstream. However, he said, “The web will reach more ears than a local radio station ever will.”
Photo by Mychal McDonald. Rick Ross