Lee O’Denat, known as Q, the founder of the influential website WorldStarHipHop.com — which grew into the preeminent clearinghouse of hip-hop music videos, entertainment news and viral videos — died suddenly on Monday in San Diego. He was 43.
The San Diego County medical examiner’s office said O’Denat was at a business in a San Diego shopping center — identified by police as a massage parlor — when he became unresponsive.
Paramedics arrived and attempted to revive him with CPR, but he was pronounced dead about 5:30 p.m. The cause of death is heart disease, with obesity considered a contributing factor, according to the coroner’s office.
TMZ first reported O’Denat’s death. WorldStar issued a statement confirming the news and said the site would continue.
“Q was a brilliant businessman who championed urban culture, ultimately creating the largest hip-hop website in the world,” the statement said. “But more than that, he was a devoted father and one of the nicest, most generous persons to ever grace this planet.”
A native of Queens, O’Denat founded WorldStar in 2005 and made the site into a more curated form of YouTube, with music, police videos and outrageous clips of fights and sex in public locations.
“Hip-hop is for the sex, the drugs, the violence, the beefs, the culture,” O’Denat told the New York Times in 2015. “That’s the competitiveness of hip-hop, so I felt like the site needed to be R-rated.”
He added: “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.”
Popular hip-hop artists opted to premiere their music on the site, which grew to sell apparel and products.
In recent years, O’Denat had sought deals to bring WorldStar further into the mainstream. MTV2 announced earlier this month that a series based on the site, “WorldStar TV,” was set to premiere Feb. 3.
The weekly show, hosted by comedian Chris Powell, is expected to feature comics and cultural figures giving commentary on Web clips.