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Further proof payola is rampant in online hip-hop journalism

If you’re an up and coming rapper, and you’re incapable of coming up with a song anyone actually likes, you could always just pay several hip-hop sites to run a feature on you. Apparently, that’s now an option.

That is, if you have the means. I’m not sure how much that would run you. To find out, I might need to holler at a kid named S. Fresh. He’s currently got features up on at least four prominent hip-hop sites, and you can tell it’s not because they all found him particularly newsworthy, because they’re all the exact same feature, verbatim. None of the sites bothered to do anything other than slightly reword the title, presumably for SEO purposes. It isn’t clear who actually conducted the interview. Most of the features just carry a generic byline, e.g. the feature at AllHipHop is said to have been posted by “AHH Staff,” whereas their other interviews carry the name of the failed journalists who conducted them.

I first realized shenanigans were at play when a guy I know pointed out to me that both AllHipHop and the obscure ’90s-era hip-hop site HipHopGame (which is apparently now owned by iHipHop) were running the exact same feature, and he wasn’t aware that the two of them have a content-sharing agreement or anything. I checked both sites, and I noticed that, in addition to the fact that neither of them indicate who conducted the interview, neither of them acknowledge that it’s the same exact feature that’s running elsewhere on the Internets (or, god forbid, link to wherever the feature originated), nor do they carry a disclosure indicating that it’s an “advertorial” or some shit, rather than an actual feature.

Then I consulted the Google, and I noticed that at least two other sites were running the exact same feature, BET and a site called Yo! Raps. I thought BET might have been the actual source of the interview, since the version there carries an actual byline, a fellow named LowKey, but then I checked the actual dates. The one at HipHopGame hit the Internets first, on the 24th, i.e. the damn holiday, the ones at BET and Yo! Raps went up the next day, and the one at AllHipHop didn’t go up until yesterday. There’s no way the guy at BET could have conducted the interview, if it went up on another site the day before without his byline or anything.

He must not have gotten the memo about running the interview more or less anonymously, so at the very least it doesn’t look like you’re trying to pass someone else’s work off as your own. I guess he figured there wasn’t any chance of his regular readership noticing that it didn’t sound like something he’d write, since he has no regular readership to speak of. I checked the comments section, and there was nothing but spam ads for pr0n, “replica watches” and what have you – just like the last several pages of XXL.To his credit, I’m sure he gets paid more money than I do, plus they actually send it to him. That’s why I’m hating. It’s really just confused admiration. Nullus.

Most of the features also include the video for S. Fresh’s song “Boss Chick,” except for HipHopGame, which has the exact same design as it did back when I was in college, and hence might not be technologically capable of posting an embedded video – though I notice they did get rid of that thing where you couldn’t copy and paste text, and replaced with an obnoxious pop-up ad. (I’m sure that came in handy for the guy at BET.) I took a look at the video, in part because I felt obligated to make sure that this guy’s skills don’t merit the press he’s received, but also because it features the ridonkulously well-endowed video ho Angel Lola Luv, whom you might remember from the late, great King magazine. It was already late in the afternoon; I figured I might have to take a 15 minute pause for the cause.

Alas, she’s not in her underwear or anything. She’s actually got on a leather coat and shit (what part of the video ho game is that?), and worse, she kicks a verse. I hope he didn’t actually pay her. Maybe they had a deal where she agreed to appear for free, if he let her foul up his song even worse than it already is with her raps. It was probably extra to get her to dress like a street-walker, and he just didn’t have it. Which just goes to show how little it must cost to corrupt these hip-hop sites. He does have Lloyd singing the chorus, but it’s explained in the interview that he’s friends with Lloyd’s cousin. Plus, let’s keep it real, what else did Lloyd have to do that day? Wasn’t he on Murder Inc.? I rest on your face.

Elsewhere in the interview, we learn that S. Fresh’s career is really taking off, as evidenced by the fact that he was recently featured in the dead tree version of XXL, on page 83 of the issue with Drake and Nicki Minaj. Indeed the entire feature seems to be pegged to the fact that being mentioned in XXL was such a coup for him, even though I’ve been informed that said mention was a paid advertisement, and presumably, clearly labeled as such (obviously I wouldn’t know), and hence is only impressive in the sense that he could actually afford it. They ask him if he’s ever recognized in public from it (roffle), and if he thinks he’s ever gonna be a member of the Freshman 10. He says it was his goal to be on a magazine cover, even before he became a rapper.

If the competition for the 2011 freshman class is too intense, he might consider paying whatever it costs to get on the cover of Ozone magazine. I’ve heard that can be arranged. I doubt anything like that goes on here at XXL. I’m sure they had no way of knowing, when they sold this guy an ad that sorta kinda looks like a feature, that he’d pay other media outlets to run an interview in which he pretends it’s an actual feature, if only because who could even imagine some silly shit like that?

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