Lee O’Denat, the founder of legendary website WorldStarHiphop, has died following a reported heart attack.
Known as “Q” and described as a “brilliant businessman” he originally set out to publish and share mix tapes.
The site later became a hub for viral videos of street violence and fights – leading to accusations it encouraged illegal behaviour.
But it remains one of the go-to places for hip-hop fans to see music videos and artist interviews.
O’Denat grew up in Queens, New York and was in his mid-40s.
“Lee O’Denat was a brilliant businessman who championed urban culture, ultimately creating the largest hip-hop website in the world,” a statement from the site says.
Image caption Lee O’Denat (centre), known as Q, founded the site in 2005
People who submitted videos to the site would often shout the slogan “WorldStar!” during filming and major artists debuted their music videos there before they were premiered on TV channels.
It also showcased the work of unsigned artists such as musicians, actors and animators.
On Twitter, the website posted: “We ask that you remember Q in your prayers and raise a toast to the sky in his name,” said the statement.
Musicians and DJs including Tinie Tempah have been paying to the businessman who called his site the “CNN of the ghetto”.
In an interview with the New York Times, O’Denat said that “hip-hop is for the sex, the drugs, the violence, the beefs, the culture. That’s the competitiveness of hip-hop, so I felt like the site needed to be R-rated.”
WorldStarHiphop regularly won best online hip hop site at the BET Hip Hop Awards, first being awarded the title in 2010.
Image caption Q with Drake in 2011