The 43-year-old founder of one of the most controversial websites on the Internet was found dead in his home on January 23. A TMZ report says that Lee O’Denat aka Q, passed away in his sleep. The report gives the cause of death as a heart attack. The website he founded in 2005 was WorldStarHipHop. Since it’s inception, their posting of fighting videos and raunchy photos saw its founder refer to it as the “CNN of the ghetto.”
O’Denat had been attempting to lose weight prior to his death having risen to 300 pounds, according to the TMZ report.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. O’Denat Started the Website With His Wife Brianna Padilla; it Went Live on 9/11
On his Twitter page, O’Denat refers to himself as the “founder and CEO” of WorldStarHipHop. He started the website with his wife, Brianna Padilla, as a means to promote hip-hop mixtapes. He told Gawker in 2014 that it started as a means to help 50 Cent and O’Denat’s friend DJ Whoo Kid to promote their work. It first went live on September 11, 2001, “a couple of hours later the planes hit,” O’Denat told the gossip site.
O’Denat was raised in Hollis, Queens, but, according to the New York Times, “was a presence on the scene in Las Vegas, Miami, Atlanta and New York.” That same Times piece described O’Denat as living in San Diego with his “three young children.” According to One West Magazine, O’Denat’s oldest son is 13.
2. At the Time of His Death, O’Denat’s Net Worth Was Reported at Around $5 Million
His net worth has been estimated at $5 million. In a 2015 interview with the New York Times, O’Denat spoke about turning down $40 million for a 40 percent stake of his company. Denat explained to the Times that, “A lot of websites come and go. I wanted people to look at WorldStar as something that’s here to stay.” He added that his first internet venture was a pornographic site that failed.
Gawker reported in 2014 that WorldStarHipHop didn’t turn a profit until 2009. His death came a month before a WorldStar TV, based on his website, was due to debut on MTV 2, reports the New York Daily News.
3. A Paramount Produced Movie Was Said to Be in the Works About WorldStarHipHop
Deadline reported in April 2014 that Russell Simmons and Paramount Pictures were plotting a movie about the origins of WorldStarHipHop. The movie had been the brainchild of Ian Edelman. He’s the creator of short-lived HBO comedy How to Make it in America. The movie was slated to start shooting in the fall of 2014.
The New York Times reported in 2015 that O’Denat was invovled in a deal with Paramount Pictures for a teen comedy.
4. The Website Became the Target of the Conservative Media When an anti-George W. Bush Video Surfaced on the Site
In 2009, WorldStarHipHop attracted the ire of Fox News when they posted a video of a child wishing death upon former President George W. Bush. An LA Weekly piece on WorldStar described Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly as wanting “the site taken down.” In the above video, you can hear Bill O’Reilly asking the F.B.I. to interview “this guy Q.”
That’s not to mention Afrika Bambaataa’s Universal Zulu Nation choice words for WorldStar. Bambaataa said he was beginning a “movement against anyone who is against us,” reported Complex in 2013.
O’Denat explained in a 2013 interview with MarketPlace that “It’s very easy to point your fingers at me. I wear my hat to the back. I have diamond necklaces. If I had different attire, different ethnic[ity], wore button-ups or whatever, they wouldn’t really look down on me.”
5. There Has Been an Outpouring of Emotion on Social Media Regarding O’Denat’s Passing
As news of O’Denat’s passing spread, social media became awash with those looking to pay tribute to Q’s work over the years. Here are some of the most poignant tributes: