WorldStarHipHop founder Lee O’Denat died in his sleep Monday night.
“With profound sadness, WorldStarHipHop and its employees, state that Lee ODenat, known as “Q”, the founder, leader and genius behind the website and brand has passed in San Diego,” a statement from WorldStarHipHop said Tuesday.
O’Denat, 43, also known as “Q,” had a heart attack, sources say.
The Queens native founded the popular hip-hop website in 2005 for rappers to share their mix tapes. Over time, the website changed course, featuring outrageous clips, viral sensations and fight videos.
“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,” O’Denat told The New York Times on Nov. 2, 2015. “People may be offended by some of the content, but, hey, the Internet is not a censorship boat. We’re the Carnival cruise, man. You don’t have to log on.”
While WorldStarHipHop finds content from websites such as YouTube and Facebook, O’Denat said he hoped the website could eventually generate original content.
“Q was a brilliant businessman who championed urban culture, ultimately creating the largest hiphop website in the world,” WorldStarHipHop’s Twitter statement read.
Celebrities took to social media Tuesday to offer their condolences.
“You were always pleasant & positive through all the madness. You built a brand that changed the course of culture,” said rapper T.I. “Your legacy will live on. ”
“RIP to my guy Q,” wrote Charlamagne Tha God.
“RIP TO A GREAT PERSON! @qworldstar My brother u did a lot for the hip hop blog community.. it’s unreal..” rapper Sean Kingston wrote on Instagram.
O’Denat grew up in Hollis, Queens where he witnessed the early days of hip-hop culture.
“I used to hang out on Jamaica Avenue,” he told The New York Times. “L L Cool J shopped there, Run-DMC.”
Raised by a single mother, O’Denat began working at 14. He got a job at Circuit City where he discovered his passion for computers.
“I was telling people, ‘This is the future,’ ” he told The New York Times. “They were like, ‘This is going nowhere.’ They laughed at me.”
After starting several websites, O’Denat saw a new opportunity with the creation of YouTube. He decided to create a similar website, but with only hip-hop inspired content.
He leaves behind three children.