Rafi has an interesting piece up over at Oh Word right now, titled “What the Hip-Hop Media Thinks of You.” The post accuses the hip-hop media of treating its audience as if they are stupid, gullible, savage, petty, disconnected and confused, and drives home the fact that media coverage has replaced music as the main product of hip-hop culture. It’s a ridiculously on-point critique—and long overdue—but the target is off. 

It’s true that online hip-hop is mired down in bullshit right now.[1] But I’m not sure that the hip-hop media is to blame.

Let’s be honest, the online world and the media are not the same thing. At all. For some time now, the web world has served as a satellite to the industry, orbiting the music biz constantly, but rarely having direct contact with it. Media folks, by and large, are part of the media community. They have jobs. They have business relationships. Particularly in New York, L.A. and Atlanta, they’re likely to have face-to-face interactions with the artists they cover. As a result, the media is tame in comparison to what goes on online. I can’t imagine any magazine printing the sort of thing we regularly post on blogs. And yet, in the wake of the blog explosion, these same magazines are now giving us bloggers unprecedented levels of creative freedom to do our writing on their websites. Is it their fault that we go and use that freedom for the sole purpose of talking shit?

As I see it, there’s three factors responsible for the mania that is online hip-hop right now:

1. The medium
Online heads’ hunger for content is driving hip-hop coverage right now (and music/pop culture in general). People want news, opinion and music instantaneously. The news cycle has been shortened from monthly, to weekly, to daily—to hourly. Websites (manned almost exclusively by freelancers—i.e. the broke farm team for the hip-hop press) scramble to find enough content to feed that insatiable appetite. Hence the reporting of every single incident that goes down in/around hip-hop, particularly if it involves sensational themes such as crime, sex or violence. Also, whereas magazine writers may have a good week (or more) to mull over a piece, bloggers respond to issues within hours, making the writing extremely reactive. It has to be noted, too, that at the same time as appetites for news have grown, attention spans for commentary have shrunk. Attention deficit readers won’t tolerate posts longer than 400 words, which makes presenting any type of thoughtful argument challenging. The type of writing that works best on blogs/sites is clever, cutting, flippant and funny. In general: the more critical, the better.

2. The bloggers
We are obsessed with beef. We thrive on scandal. We have a tough time writing a single paragraph without inserting smug/sarcastic/subliminal jabs. We take shots at our peers. We take shots at our readers. We take shots at the media. We take shots at rappers. Then we take shots at their entourage. It gets tedious. And destructive. The problem, of course, is that it’s just so damn entertaining.

3. The comment section/discussion board folks
I’m talking to you too, my friends. Not the MEKA SOULs out there (you should really have a blog), but those who use the comments section as a dumping ground for their own issues (i.e. “shut up and send me naked pix”). When you post crap that you wouldn’t say out loud, let alone to the person you’re addressing, you drag the level of discussion down. And, not for nothing, it’s worth pointing out that in our corner of the Internets, success is often measured by number of comments: shock posts go platinum, social commentary bricks. If you post tons of comments for shock posts, you fuel the phenomenon. Hate it or love it, that’s just how it goes. It is what it is.


[1] I’m going to do something really crazy here and actually be self-critical. In doing so, I’ll be committing the cardinal sin of blogging (and hip-hop): thou shalt never admit you’re wrong. So be it.

Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • Rey

    Tara-n-Meka Soul, sitting in a tree..

    Just wait til Bol & Transi see this. They’re gonna be jealous!

    Yeah, guilty on #3, #2 does get tedious after a while, and #1 is what’s killing music right now.


  • first.


  • e

    (i.e. “shut up and send me naked pix”)

  • Pingback: » Tara Henley tries to make sense of the hip-hop media circus - XXL

  • khal

    very good points. not that this will stop that wheel from turning, but it’s the truth.

  • Young A. Simmons

    Damn Tara get off mekas dick.
    Truth is ppl would rather see Combat Jack and Sic or Bol and Transi beef than hear bout aids or poverty.

    Bol averaging 300 posts a day recently and bout 270 of them ppl naming wcw weed carriers…

    That pic of Sic with lip gloss was still pretty funny though.


    Tara workin hard to get that QB spot from Fresh……good post thou

  • Harvard

    #2 is actually not that entertaining.

  • loosenut

    I know right…I like Bol…I like Sick and you too Tara for balancing those negroes out…This won’t get you more posts though…Bash on men on your next post, how we put rappers on pedstals, how 30 year old men still rapping irresponsibally as if their piss still flows straight…I promise 300 posts…As a matter of fact…If people go to school to become counselors, preacher’s. leaders… shouldn’t these so-called conscious rappers have college degree’s? I mean shit we used to not have to have a certificate that makes you a minister, or a counselor or a leader. But with so many people trying to be one these other things popped up…Classes would include…The art of Storytelling….Adjectives, Nouns and Verbs oh my…

  • G Off

    Great post, especially about the thirst for more news, new music, etc. People listen to a song once, decide how good the album will be, and move on to the next new song. It’s ruining hip hop.

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt da fuck u gunna give a shout out 2 a ham n egger like meka soul n not da most electrifying n eloquent man in da comment section game and yo biggest fan out dere…

    aka me

    i equate u as being’s kelly kapowski and dis is how u treat me?

    cold as ice

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    side note : >>>>> xxl magazine (and i like da mag)

    dis place has pretty much wiped da floor with da competition..who even looks at otha blogz these days when erything of note occurs or stems frum hea?

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    where my nigga bol at?

  • thoreauly77

    yes! well done miss henley it seems as if your retreat has done good things for you.
    1. my girlfriend teases me incessantly about how much time i am on the computer reading byron’s shit, poplicks, nah right, etc, let alone allhiphop, and you know what she has a point. but with so much amusing (and occassionally insightful) commentary at such a fast pace, i dont see how any true hiphop head wouldnt be fascinated.
    2. easily the best part of the blogosphere, particularly when it seeps over into the world of the people we hold up to higher standards (phonte for instance). etherfest 06 anyone? that shit was classic!
    3. everytime i post something in here, i feel like a fucking geek, but then i just watch freaks and geeks and i feel better… however, the comments section is what allows us to have a forum (a precedent) in the culture we love, and that is amazing. unfortunately there are people in here that dont understand the difference between irony (a la bol) and blatant stupidity ( a la every dude that calls you a stupid bitch when they dont like what you post).

  • thoreauly77

    the transient says:

    “i equate u as being’s kelly kapowski and dis is how u treat me?

    cold as ice”

    see, thats some funny shit!

  • Rey

    Damm, Transi.. You wanna borrow my Fall Out Boy cd? Help you get thru this ‘ticular episode?

  • Rey

    I agree with G & Loose..

    ..But I’m fully aware that I’m one of those wcw namin’ Yahoos.

    Ehh, it’s something to do.

  • Mr.Me

    Tara this is a response to okplayer? That means you was really on their stealin news just like them nerdy dudes say.

  • TARA

    Sorry, Transi. You get a shout out too. And you too Rey.

  • Rey

    Heeeeeeeeelllllllllllllllllzzzz Yeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!

    Thanks Tara!

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    i think my heart jus skipped a bump (no brian’s unrequited love for angela in my so called life)

  • Nigeria

    ”Attention deficit readers won’t tolerate posts longer than 400 words”

    How many words was this?

  • Fernando

    Fuck This. Tara is like the Chamiqua Holdsclaw of All Hype but cant live up to expectations. Good topic though. At least you think before you write. Bol seems to just write whatever his mom tells him too (explains why he hates on every hip-hop album)

  • Fernando

    And get a new picture. maybe for just one day you could have a picture of yourself in a *comprimising* pose. It would mke my day.

  • Rey

    701 Words including the title & the footnote.

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    tara’s blog should be moved up da page 2 take faggit ass dj drama spot since he 2 shook 2 blog now afta bein exposed as a coward who take payola

  • dronkmunk

    nice post

  • Meka Soul

    i think i’m in love now.

  • marlon

    True Internet has the media eating itself for sure. i remember when you had to wait for the next source mag to come out to find out what was new and it gave something to look forward to, now its like i’m at work checking hip hop sites every hour to see whats new, partly its cause my job is boring and partly because i can count on a new stupid story like styles p might just be dropping a sophomore in october and foxy missed a court case, its become a drug. T dot represent girl. and keep your pic this about thought not your body. this niggas is lonely.

  • Meka Soul

    tara, you have the power, i got the brains. make it happen & i’ll make “illmatics” every day.

  • thoreauly77

    cosign tara on page two…. move meka soul to her old spot…. delete dj drama!! petition!!!

  • thoreauly77

    bol just ran a column on his site asking who should replace some of the “bums around here” a week or so ago. check it out.


    Hollywood Hogan, Lex Luger, yokozuna, xpac, cactus jack,………….wait we aint doin this anymore.

  • rafi

    Nice post…

    Trackback doesn’t seem to be working so click here for my reply.

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    wait wait wait…

    meka soul is female???????????

  • Rey

    Meka Soul is a girl?


    Word, Drama needs to go.

  • Meka Soul

    100% male, transient.

  • thoreauly77

    what? why do you think meka’s a chick? i meant move meka to taras old spot when (please god, please!!) drama gets pemanently ethered.

  • Rey

    I’d read a Meka Soul blog.

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    thoreauly77…link it..i cant see it on bol site

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    bol should be postin’ da good shit like dat on hea..fuck his own site..

  • Danja29

    Ice Train.

    And Tara, you’re dead-ass right. LOL @ Meka Soul about to send you a “do you like me, circle yes or no” letter.

  • Spark

    tara’s nice!!!

  • DJ Lucky Luke

    One problem with this shit is there’s too much back and forth rambling going on in the blog. Just keep it on point and shit’ll be a lot more interesting. I ain’t mad I didn’t get a shout out, but then again I’m not competing for that prized spot in Tara’s E-Heart, either. In fact, a lot of people would feel blessed that a dude like me would make an appearance on these boards. I’m DJ Lucky Luke got-dammit! This post is alright, but kinda stating the obvious. Hip-hop media has turned into Entertainment Tonight. Too much on the dating scene and not enough focus on the damn music. These blogs are cool if you can form an educated opinion about things. Bol likes rock more than rap, DJ Drama posts once every year, and once you get past that, most of the responses confirm that this market is made up of dummies. Bol’s shit gets more play cause everybody wants to stomp the life out that dude, not read about sexist conscious rappers. Anyway, it’s cool. Tara, you’re keeping it real–you should actually post stuff more often to jump start your own little blog corner here. You could be running shit very soon, just be sure to post up pics of your tits and people will wonder why they keep looking at that bald-headed black dude. (homo) Peace. Holla back, lady…

  • thoreauly77

    transi, i dont know how to link anything (no dj ncredible), but its in the august archives as “sickamore fails upward”.

  • long duk dong

    YOU PAY NOW!!!!!!! GIMME MONEY!! GIMME MONEY!!!! You wan WHI WICE o Flied WICE!!!! UN GAO!!!!!!

  • Mikey Ess AKA SukedowN

    All very precise observations, but no conclusion.

    Did I miss the point you were trying to make?

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    ok..found it…

  • DJ Lucky Luke

    The point is:

    It’s our own damn fault the hip-hop media is shaped like Bol’s head.

  • rafi

    Sorry, I hate the lag in moderated comments on a site that gets a ton of comments…..

    This was a good post but I think it still copped out a bit.

    See my reply at Oh Word by following the link on my name.

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    “eskay and combat jack. you know whats funny though? i think they should give one to the transient just for the fact that it would make us all laugh to read the crazy-ass shit that he writes. you know rey wants it sooooo bad it hurts him, and belize would like it but he’s just not smart or funny enough, which leaves meka soul out of the bol’s column trifecta, and that dude is actually pretty fucking funny. = my two cents.

    Posted by: thoreauly77 | Aug 25, 2006 11:08:07 PM”


  • Belize

    As long as fresh love’s me im cool…lol

  • TARA

    Rafi: you make some decent points in your reply. If you missed it, though, the “can you blame us?” is from Kelis’s new joint “Circus” — a track on the music industry that sort of captures my mood right now.



  • marlon

    fuck that give marlon a blog. first how walmart ruined hip hop, then G. I. Joe unit real american wanksters. I could post some thought provoking shit.

  • loosenut

    Same kick drum…Yeah I know what ya saying Tara…And another thing…Is it me or ar the R&B Chicks sounding more creative and more hip hop than their slapnut counterparts? Maybe Nas wrote her verses but how do you explain Beyonce? Oh Jay Z…And Mary J? Oh Jay Z again…I’m noticing a trend…The same 2 guys that held hip hop down pacify us with their R&B bed warmers…

    PS: If I were “gay”(no homo) would I say no hetero?

  • Anthony


  • miguel

    good shit, internet needs more shit like this

  • Rey

    And on the Strength of their respective posts today:

    Bol & Tara = Ron Burgundy & Veronica Corningstone of

  • Tyler

    Nice Blog babygirl but the game ain’t going 2 change cause we love it just the way it is ya’ dig. Peep the street heat at:

  • Theodore Lumpkins


    On behalf of Okayplayers the world over, you’re whack and you make the already lame Canada look worse.


  • no big tigger

    you need to stop. you are not a writer.

  • slap fire out a blog

    Drama is still on this site ?

  • allnice

    Good post man. Online hip hop blogging is fun because you get to post your own opinion about what is going on. The media is bullshit anyway, so I think online hip hop is alot more closer to what people actually think.

  • sATaLyte

    Is anybody checking out that Okayplayer beef they got over there?

    They have the ugliest comment section over there, and the writing sucks.

    You’re all about to watch some natural selection in a minute when that ish begins to fade into obscurity.

  • rafi

    I’m going to do a big post on this either tomorrow or Monday but I must re-iterate here first… you are the media! Not just you, getting paid by XXL to blog but me getting paid by nobody. Being online and not having the same salary or industry perks doesn’t make you less valid of a media source.

    In fact, it should make you a more valid one because for now at least won’t have the biases of being bribed by the thrill of rolling with famous people or having to cater to your employer’s interests. Journalists aren’t supposed to be in bed with their subjects.

    We are all the media. And this notion that “the online world” is some separate realm is bullshit. The whole world is online.

  • Galactus Jones


    Once again, you are copping pleas and coming off as a wee drama whore. Props! Get a real job, get your facts straight and get off everybody’s nuts.

    Hip Hop Honeys is casting, Tramp.

  • pop a poppa

    great posta… best one i seen from u

    ya’ll bloggers do a good job… best hip-hop site on the web 4 sho

  • thoreauly77

    rafi: read the post and some excellent posts, but perhaps the issue isnt that it is two SEPARATE mediums, but there is a distinction. one read through most letters to the editor are either ignored or refuted, but very rarely argued. at the very least we must acknowledge that the better bloggers out there at least react to sane critiques. dont you?

  • P


  • rafi


    Sure but according to Tara they’re also totally desperate for any content they can find so why wouldn’t they respond. :-)

    I’m definitely appreciative of Tara replying to my post and bringing this conversation to light to a wider audience. I’ll be continuing it with a different take on Monday.

  • TARA

    Rafi: To clarify, I don’t mean that it’s just us individual bloggers that are desperate for content. I mean the medium of online publishing is desperate for content–from the readers, to the bloggers, to the websites, to the forums. There’s a built in pressure, a built in hunger, to the entire system.

  • alleyeCNtower

    this is pretty on-point cultural commentary. nice work, Tara!
    and i’ll be seeing you later on today to talk about this, and more deep, dark, disgraceful hip hop secrets ;)

    I remember when the word ‘hater’ didn’t even exist. My god, we’ve fallen far from grace. How do we get back to respecting ourselves in the morning after we have another night of hip hop in 2006?

    shit is disgusting like Cam’ron says

    I’ll answer the shit, very simply:
    “if the people are okay, hip hop is going to be okay.” – Mos Def

    how are YOU doing, today?
    and are you a hater or a lover?

  • loosenut

    How does one go about getting a check to do what a Bol and a Tara does? This shit is child’s play…Did you apply at one of those “Make money from home” sites? But hey has your blog went platinum yet? Respond to the accusations Tara…DID YOU STEAL THIS POST IDEA FROM OKAYPLAYER? How funny would it be if a coworker (Bol) posted right after me saying yesssssss…


    Do Tara, Bol, YN or any of the other people who run these blogs count as celebrities?

  • TARA

    Loosenut: Absolutely not.

    Question: Absolutely not.

  • TARA

    Oh, and Loosenut, I agree that R&B singers are more creative right now.

  • rafi


    Absolutely yes.


    Ideas are extremely cheap. You shouldn’t put so much stake in them. And don’t get me started on message boards…..

  • rafi

    “Shouldn’t put so much stake in who came up with them” that should say.

    Chances are that any idea worth talking about was being had by many people at the same time.

  • loosenut

    Well…Tara said Loosenut…Did you actually whisper that while you typed it Tara? Loosenut…And how ionic is it that Bol ethered you after my post? I just might know Byron (Samuel L) Crawford…

  • UnFaded Disciple


  • ghostanddarkness

    please sumbady tell me y dis dumb broad got a blog please


    Very good points all the way around. I couldn’t say it any better or more truthfully than that.


    Tara Henley sittin in a tree getting hit BACKWARDS by L.O.B




    First CAME Bol then CAME Drama, Kris was her Ex, broke up over a text…She wasn’t Fresh and they all got sickamore…better yet moresicka…

  • Kay from around the way

    Hey Tara,

    Love the heading of your piece… I’m a fan of Kelis myself…

    But I have to disagree with you because only “internet people” read your post and they don’t sink into the public consciousness…unlike print media, (i.e.Vibe magazines’ “EAST-WEST” rivalry)

    But your point is taken that it’s very crude to ask to see nude pix of you…especially without taking you out on a date…
    You and BOL are going to have some interesting kids.

  • Cool Dude

    uh, look bitch i don’t know why you write, JUST SEND ME PIX OF YOUR TWAT AND TITTIES !!!

  • H-man

    …Itz real life do or die 4 me…The way of the Samari…If any of these people would say 2 my face what they say on here, they’d B tastin da cold steel…dats 4 real…Hate it or Love it…U know who I iz, Im reloaded and U know how I handle my biz…Meet the hungryist man alive, and da streetz iz what dey iz…Taras on point here, no doubt, she speaks da truth…Hi B…

  • thoreauly77

    h-man, everyone, is an amazing emcee. (clapping).

  • Lindemann

    “I’m going to do something really crazy here and actually be self-critical. In doing so, I’ll be committing the cardinal sin of blogging (and hip-hop): thou shalt never admit you’re wrong. So be it.”

    Perhaps the self-criticism would inspire more admiration if you would admit specific posts you have made that have contributed to the present situation. I mean, if your position is that the current state of hip-hop online media is everyone else’s fault, that’s yours to argue, but don’t ask for credibility for chastising yourself when you neglect to actually, you know, do it.

  • Eastside Bread Maker

    This was a nice blog. And not to sound gay or nothing, cuz I like titties as much as the next man, but why would you think that Tara would actually post a picture or her tits on here???

    Please check out my blogs on my myspace page.


  • thoreauly77

    tara, come back to us…..