A tale of too few servers: A day in the Internet life of World Star Hip-Hop
With Kanye West claiming the "government administer[s] AIDS," Jadakiss asking "why did Bush knock down the towers" and the omnipresent rumors linking Jay-Z into the illuminati, the hip-hop world has long loved a good conspiracy. So when urban video clearinghouse, World Star Hip Hop went down on Monday morning, the Internet hive burst into a conflagration of rumors, hearsay and jokes about quasi-video vixen Kat Stacks.
The most heavily advanced theory was that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security had shut down the popular website due to its heavy reliance on copyrighted material. Within minutes and with no concrete evidence, various blogs, websites and Twitter feeds began reporting the rumor as fact. The line of logic followed that it was another sweep from the United States government, which had seized the URL and domains belonging to popular rap sites Rap Godfathers, Onsmash and Dajaz1 late last year. Since the closure, Onsmash has regrouped under the banner FreeOnSmash.
And then 50 Cent got involved. Taking to his Twitter to announce, "I don’t know why people underestimate me. I just shut down WorldStar. For future advertising contact thisis50.com suckers...I put WorldStar to bed, you don’t believe try me and I will shut your [site] down. Lol. I predict two more web sites will shut down this week. Take a guess who they are. I’m sick of the hate. I’m too strong."
For some, 50's taunts seemed to have a modicum of credibility considering he'd sued World Star in 2009 for unauthorized usage of his likeness on the site. An avowed student of the Laws of Power, 50 himself admitted that much of the suit stemmed from his desire to nettle his rival with expensive litigation, and hopefully weaken its ability to compete with his own site, Thisis50.com. Though World Star creates little original content of its own, it has emerged as a cross between YouTube, "America's Funniest Home Videos" and a porn site. According to these metrics, it received a staggering 3.9 million unique visitors last month.
Following 50's Twitter remarks, traffic-crazed bloggers and websites began reporting 50's comments as fact -- hedging their bets with the occasional question mark or two. With World Star Hip-Hop still down, the rumor mill at a feverish pitch and dedicated consumers of the site left without a one-stop shop for soft-core porn, street fistfights and uncensored rap videos, 50 Cent took to Hot 97's airwaves to deny his role in the site's closure.
"I didn't shut them down. If I rob a bank I wouldn't tell you I did... [but] maybe I did. It's up to the public to decide," 50 Cent said mockingly.
Directly after 50 hung up, World Star founder Lee "Q" O'Denat told Angie Martinez, the host of Angie Martinez's "Rush Hour With DJ Enuff," that "it's just a technical difficulty due to too much traffic on our servers. It wasn't a hacker, or 50 Cent, or homeland security," Denat said, pointing out that a hacker had shut down the site for eight months in 2007.
And thus, the great mystery was solved with anticlimactic plot twist. The moral of the story is that you should never trust 50 Cent's Twitter or most blogs. The United States government probably isn't on a vendetta to shut down every rap site extant, and Kat Stacks and her scantily clad ilk still continue to have a forum to peddle their wares. Whether that's a good thing or not remains a matter open to interpretation.
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: 50 Cent. Credit: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters