Originally published on The Industry Cosign April 27, 2015
The internet is an amazing tool when it comes to getting information, researching and just browsing for, well, any and everything. As much as we are online these days, via computer, tablet and/or smartphone, the internet, much like the culture of Hip-Hop, wasn’t really taken seriously over 10 years ago. Which is why there has to be pioneers; people who can be credited with either starting something or bringing attention to it, be it music, culture, food, electronics, anything.
At a time when young Hip-Hop heads would get their fill via cassette tapes, radio, vinyl and magazines, a duo took their love for the culture and the news and reporting of it and took it to a platform not many were privy to. With the appropriately named All Hip Hop, a revolution was born! Now, everything we consume is mostly gotten online because of a site that grew and create another aspect of the culture of Hip Hop and it still stands 17 years strong!
The Industry Cosign, although not a Hip-Hop site, was created because of and due to AllHipHop.com. There isn’t any Hip-Hop related site, whether then or now, that didn’t learn and/or observe what Chuck Creekmur, Grouchy Greg and Steve Raze were doing/did. I have to admit, my love of Hip-Hop is the reason I wanted to create a website that would do what these guys did, but, I wanted to separate my site from what they did, but, was in awe of what they did at the same time.
I mention all that to give the due respect the AllHipHop creators deserve and I got the chance to speak to one of them, after years of trying to lock him in for an interview! But, I felt it was most appropriate to have him featured as a Legendary industry head because, well….. Chuck Creekmur Is….. Legendary
As the co-founder of AllHipHop.com, could you tell us what made you and Grouchy Greg start the popular website?
This has been told over and over. But, long story short, he had a site and I had a site. We decided he had a better name and merged them into AllHipHop.com. We are both native Delawareans and it had a very small, competitive Hip-Hop community at the time. To this day, I think it was a big deal that we came together at that time on that platform. Steve Raze was a partner in my first website and he would go on to join AHH soon after Greg and I partnered.
How did you get the urge to become an entrepreneur at such a young age while you were coming up?
I don’t fully know where the urge came from. I think it was circumstantial. I wanted to be noticed and had trouble getting in the game. I also saw that New York was a very tight-knit circle. Had I just came at the industry just as a writer, I think I would have had some measure of success. But, being an early adopter of the internet made us very revolutionary. I think my hustle mentality came from my dad though. He used to have side gigs that had my brother and I working for him. Lastly, when I left my school in Delaware, none of the teachers I reached out to really aided me. So, I just started to re-educate myself, which I am still doing to this day.
Your site is one of the most visited and watched sites in Hip-Hop and considered by some, to be the standard when it comes to Hip-Hop news and reporting. When you and Greg started this journey, what were the realistic expectations the two of you had once you realized that you had something viable?
I had no expectations. It wasn’t until people like Russell Simmons, Diddy and others started knocking did I feel we were on to something. After the Black Enterprise Award, I knew we were special.
Nowadays, it seems like there are new blogs popping up daily, in essence, trying to mimic what AllHipHop has done and is still doing. How does that make you feel as one of the people who basically helped start online Hip-Hop coverage and covering a magnitude of artists?
I think it is the game. I think that people have taken bits and pieces of AllHipHop and created whole blogs around segments of the site. I have no qualms about it, because it is a sign of our influence and, to a lesser degree, progress.
Where has being CEO of AllHipHop taken you?
Being CEO has taken me to Africa, France, The Netherlands, Amsterdam. More than that is has allowed me to talk to people all over the world in ways I never imagined. It could be a black-tie gala, an awards show or in a protest march. I really appreciate that I can walk with kings and so-called regular folk with ease.
What I find impressive about you is that after all these years, you still write and also contribute to other publications as well, instead of just being a figurehead. Why do you still write? What inspires you to continue to do so?
Well, I am a writer at heart. That is where my passion is. I also am politically minded, community-minded and I care about children. So, I have a column over at MommyNoire.com in the fatherhood section and I write when I feel passionate about something. I hope to transfer those skills to offering people more visual looks of how I feel about things.
As an entrepreneur, I know you have other things going on or in the works. I could be wrong, but, do you have anything else you’re involved with and/or in the works that you’d like to discuss?
I have a few things going on, some that I can talk about and others its premature. KnockOutNation.com is making dope inroads in boxing and mixed marital artists. I have a youth oriented site I recently acquired so that will come out soon. Then there are some cross-platform efforts in radio and TV that are in the works.
How is The Business of Hip-Hop different now than it was when you first decided to make Hip-Hop your business?
I think the major difference is that there are just bigger players interested in Hip-Hop now. Anything rappers do is news to everybody now and we have to compete in that space. It sucks because they don’t really care about culture or people at all, in most instances. We tend to care, but I have to admit, we have to adhere to the rules of the internet when stories are broken. Major sponsors don’t always dole out the dollars to smaller entities like they used to, even the influential ones. I think we need more unity among the Hip-Hop sites to make them respect us.
A 21 year old college student approaches you about wanting to start a lucrative business, specifically in Hip-Hop, what general advice would you give him or anyone else who seeks to hear some words of wisdom from you?
I just think the time has come for the next revolution. I don’t believe it has been created and if it has, its not by us. I feel we need movements that are paradigm shifters. Too many people are gunning for likes and selfies to be instruments of change. I would advise the student to look at the world with a set of eyes that ignores everything in front of him or her. Blaze a new trail. Take risks. Agitate. I’m not even sure if Hip-Hop is the way these things happen anymore. I am mostly interested in the platform.
In the world of journalism, there has been a shift in what is being reported as news, mostly for salacious purposes. Do you think that the type of journalism and writing we experienced many years ago, will return in a more respectable way, with more integrity than what is being ‘reported’ nowadays?
I do think there is a place for real journalism. We want to do more of that. Ultimately, it is the people that determine where a lot of our energy goes, but we do have a 2015 vision to bring real writing and journalism to the forefront in a way that the readers can digest. Hopefully, we can create some debate, dialogue and conversation around those efforts.
How do you feel about the culture of Hip-Hop today?
To this day, I love Hip-Hop. I think that I am just an anomaly of sorts. I still see the power of Hip-Hop and that it is still a relatively young art form. I think we are seeing the control gradually shift back to the artists. I definitely fear that is it being completely co-opted, but that is something we can address through sound business and good music. And lastly, I still love the other elements of Hip-Hop. I was at a Talib / Immortal Technique show the other day and they had a DJ…a real DJ. I interviewed Crazy Legs of the Rock Steady Crew and he and I chopped it up about b-boying. I have scores of books on Graff. I just love Hip-Hop. As far as the younger rappers, I like a lot of them. But I admit that I cherry-pick what I play often. If there is one song on your album that I love and will listen to forever, you have done a good job. Oh yeah, Kendrick is proof rappers and still make great albums. OGs need to stop hating. They are acting like the elders when we came up. Mentor. Guide. Have respect.
The Hip-Hop you grew up on and lived in the 90s and the artists back then, if they had today’s technology and with social media (As far as fans being able to interact with the artists, unlike in Hip-Hop’s ‘Golden Era’), do you think it would have been just as effective in helping change the culture in terms of building businesses through Hip-Hop?
Probably not. I think there was a lot of exclusivity back then. The rules were different. Artists had an air about them, but now they just air it out on social media. We got access and interviews that nobody got and the artists respected us. They don’t need to go through a third party anymore and so the walls between the artist and the fans are gone. I appreciated that air of mystery though. It kept you wanting more. Supply. Demand.
You’ve built a legacy with AllHipHop already, but what does Chuck Creekmur want his legacy to ultimately be?
I would like to be regarded as a pioneer that devoted a large part of his life to Hip-Hop and people in general. I have been on the front lines supporting artists and culture of a long time. I also intent to extend my brand in other ways so I can prove to myself that I’m not a one trick pony.