Dead End Hip-Hop: No Politics as Usual

Youtube is the wild wild west for reviews (well it’s the wild wild west for content in general), anyone and everyone can get on and upload their opinion: whether it may be political, for video games, books, fashion, film, and music. Hell, even the things you’d assume people don’t give 1/6 of a f*** about, there’s most likely a video on like “the best shoelaces brands” and “best episodes of Undeclared” (Remember that show?). In the case of music, with it being universally unifying to mankind, it goes without saying that everyone has an opinion and gives their opinion, no matter the genre. In regards to hip-hop, many have made a name for themselves as reviewers on the platform: Shawn Cee, BigQuint Indeed, and the one and only “Mr. Light Six” himself Anthony Fantano. Being some of the more popular channels for hip-hop reviews, each of them carries their approach to discussing and analyzing the music. From Fantanos more so-professionalism and asunder of the music, to BigQuints often hyperactive reactions and then his final verdict after the fact. They all have personalities and highlight their passion and enjoyment for a genre that has passionate fans. It’s an entertainment meeting educative. While those channels continue doing great things, there’s seems to be one channel that feels to be an unsung hero in a bubble with their peers is Dead End Hip-Hop.

Dead End Hip-Hop is the idea brought to life by one of its members Kenneth B. Inge, or Kinge as a nickname, in 2010. As he and other hip-hop heads were having hip hop discussions on the daily through emails. Just like the process of a hip-hop song, it all starts with the one thing that sparks the mind. It was a phrase by the rapper named Wise “here goes another Dead Hip-Hop conversation”. The one-line manifest an idea for Kinge to take these email conversations further and take their potential to Youtube. Needing help with camera work and editing, he reached out to Rod of Modest Media to add to the team. Soon after he needed a team, a lineup full of opinionated individuals for the show, so Kinge would pitch the idea to those in the email thread: Brandon “Beezy430” White, Myke “C-Town” Jaimes, and Rafael “Feefo” Ferrer would be the ones to join. After those steps Kinge took, the Avengers were officially assembled. Making their Youtube debut on March 8, 2011, with one of their hip hop conversation videos, “Lupe Fiasco Lasers: Sellout or Hostage” as their first upload (or at least currently as it’s episode six of a series, however, the first five episodes aren’t uploaded. Maybe possibly deleted or whatever the case may be).

Now, a bit older than the typical reviewer you’d expect to see, Dead End Hip-Hop bridges the gap between the old heads and the next generation, the old school and new school, backpacker and mumble. Putting in a position, where they’re able to analyze the newest artists and see why their carrying hip-hop for the better and see how it’s growing for the future while seeing and explaining the worse, and being able to compare the past and present with first-hand experience (minus Feefo for the most part). That itself is fitting and convenient since we’re in a time where everyone compares the Golden Age of Hip-Hop to the present and plea that the new age hip-hop gets worse and worse (which I disagree with) but it’s never hated, as they all try to be open-minded no matter who or what. When it comes to their opinions and approach when discussing the music: honest, upfront, sometimes vulgar, passionate, and respectful (as much as they can at least) are words that come to mind when describing their reviews and conversations. They give unfiltered thoughts on newer artists and older acts, which makes their slogan a badge worn by them: “No politics, No B.S., We Are The People”. Plenty of reviews have highlighted this: whether it may be their review of J. Cole’s “K.O.D.”, Logic’s “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind where Feefo, unexpectedly, delivered a passionate monologue about his disappointment in Logic, from Lil Yachty’s “Teenage Emotions” to Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.”. “Kids See Ghosts” to “Run the Jewels 4”. An infamous example being their review of Lil B’s “I’m Gay” album, which resulted in not much of a review and more so 20 minutes of Myke C-Town and Kinge arguing about the album. It was a bit of a detour, to say the least, but a comical way on the brighter side (even though the way they were arguing would end most friendships). However, the channel isn’t just dudes screaming at each other like 11-year-olds playing Mario Kart and 20-year-olds playing 2K, as they all give individual insight on the project they review, whether positive or negative.

They treat reviews as discussions as friends would, they don’t give ratings or scores or any rankings, either they like it or not, love it, or leave it alone. Each person adds a piece to the piece and emphasizes individuality comes a long way for their reviews. No one feels interchangeable, when one isn’t taking part in the review, it may still be a good video but still good, there seems to feel like a certain color is missing from the painting. They all play a role: Beezy430 is often more on the quiet side, but when it’s his turn to give his 2 cents he can give some insight involving production. Myke C-Town is a music nerd, with a witty and blunt opinion, with he may make jokes but he means with his intentions for the artist (well, they all do) when he says something like “I’d rather listen to a chopped n screwed Neil Diamond than this garbage”. Kinge feels to be the old head of the bunch, but isn’t bitter and just wants quality music. Feefo, being the youngest of the group felt like the one to be the voice of the newer gen as much as he can, for example being the only one who liked Travis Scott’s “Rodeo” and Tyler the Creator’s “Goblin” and, in the review, he called Tyler “a musical genius” 10 years ago which is amazing seeing how Tyler’s career evolved to being one of the most important artists of this generation. Last but not least Rod aka Modest Media is the man behind the camera who chimes in now and then, more recently he’s been appearing on camera for reviews and conversation than before in the previous years. Also, the honorary member Sophie, who took part in many of their Hip-Hop conversations and a couple of reviews.

While you’d think their honest would hold them back, however, they’re opinions and videos garnered respect and attention from hip-hop veterans and those from his era. From Logic (who’ve they interviewed in 2013) to shouting Feefo out by referencing his signature line “Bumps in the whip, to legendary hip-hop producer Alchemist giving them props and giving them compliments in their interview with him from 2013: “Everybody has their own opinion and it seems honest, from Day one when I first seen this shit, I thought it was dope. It seems you guess really listen and I put a lot of people on to your shit” adding to that he elaborated “It’s like when you have homies who you respect their musical, cause you know some people are like ‘yes men’, but I respect people who give their honest opinion”. From Royce Da’ 59 retweeting them to Kendrick Lamar to acknowledging them and give the channel praise in his MTV interview from 2015: “I’ve just seen this blog called Dead End Hip-Hop where they talking about To Pimp a Caterpillar, and they caught it because the abbreviation was ‘2Pac’”.

10 years strong and they’ve come along way, from doing videos outside of the building and in living rooms to having their studio with “Dead End Studios”. Expanding the name, they’ve made several other outlets: Dead End Sports, Dead End Gaming, Frames Per Second, and a couple of other projects. More recently, adding new additions main channel, they’re bringing on younger interns to take part in their videos to help represent the younger generation and review some albums that they may not be able to review, to help essentially pass the torch, just in case the main cast may decide to leave the platform for whatever the reason me be. Many things have changed for the channel, but two things have remained the same: friendship and hip-hop. Hip-Hop is what the channel breathes, hence the title of the channel, whether it may be indie or mainstream, Travis Scott or Kendrick, Benny the Butcher or Kid Cudi, they’re willing to give it a chance (whether they like it or not is a different topic) and the end, the essence of what makes Dead End videos what they are: friends cracking jokes and bonding over their love of hip-hop, which is the beauty of music. They can get into a heated debate about an album or hot hip-hop take or all agree, when it’s over, it’s all love and no malice. As the channel has over 250k subscribers and it slowly reaches 500k, they don’t mind the wait for it since they’ll reach it being Men on the moon themselves. Being divergent to other channels, telling it how it is because that’s the only way they can and it’s how they’ve gotten this far. Kinge explained to VoyageATL:

“We are most proud of the fact that we can remain true to ourselves and our fans while maintaining our honesty and integrity. We love that artists appreciate our real opinions of their music — no matter how good or bad we say. We have been told through the years that our reviews made artists strive to put out their best work. Our intention of quality of quantity is something we standby; we are not seeking to achieve clickbait or be first — we strive to be authentic.“

Celebrating 10 years and looking further on, Dead End Hip-Hop is a channel for hip-hop lovers of any age and in the words of the man Feefo himself, it Bumps in the Whip.

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