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When Ted Lucas, founder and impresario behind local rap giant Slip-N-Slide, wanted to announce his new distribution deal with Capitol Records after four platinum-studded years with Atlantic Records, he didn't reach out to the Miami Heraldor New Times. Instead he posted a statement on www.305hiphop.com, the year-old online magazine that is rapidly growing into an information hub for Miami's closely knit (and occasionally combative) hip-hop scene. Of course the Web portal's chat boards had already been buzzing for months with rumors of the label's imminent demise, passing judgment on everything from its alleged bankruptcy to Trick Daddy's numerous legal problems.
Meanwhile roster artists Rick Ross and Money Mark, fed up with sitting on the bench while Trick Daddy and Trina collected all the shine, posted two hostile MP3 songs provocatively titled "Death of Ted Lucas" and "I Want to Talk to You." How did the Website manage to get the Lucas interview while playing host to a pair of dis tracks aimed at him? "He was complaining about the track, defamation of his name ... that kind of put us in a predicament," says Jimmy, one of several people behind the site. In the end it seems that Lucas chose to do a little damage control instead. "They have to understand that we're the media," Jimmy continues. "We're just trying to get the information out there."
The coup was seemingly reflective of how much industry respect the online magazine has earned in an impressively short time span. But if you talk to the crew behind its rise, they'll shrug it off as the inevitable result of their combined talents. Each of the four coordinators brings something different to the table: U.B. is part of the THC Crew; Jimmy is down with Poe Boy Entertainment and Pitbull; Carlos Garcia works with media companies like Video Mix and handles public relations for the site; and Tina Marie has thrown parties at South Beach nightclubs like Level and B.E.D. through her company, Phat Cat Promotions. "We've all been in the industry for a while," says Marie.
CEO Fillup Banks launched www.305hiphop.com with his partner and primary investor Scott Alvarino in 2002. He updates the site's content on a daily basis, adding new interviews, news items, and MP3 songs that can be downloaded for free. Its December cover featured a photo of California radio vets Baka Boyz, currently holding it down on 103.5 The Beat (WMIB-FM), and there were headlines trumpeting stories on Pitbull's new label deal with TVT Records; mixtape stars DJ Ideal and DJ Epps; and Garcia's upcoming album, Anti-Social.
Admittedly www.305hiphop.com is more of a means to an end than just a solid online magazine. The crew wants to use it to become a power broker of sorts: One step toward that goal was the Miami Music Awards show they hosted last August 20 at Code with Circle House Studios owner Bebee Lewis, handing out honors to 2003 hitmakers like Jacki-O and DJ Khaled. "Everybody who was anybody was at the awards show," boasts U.B. They also give out free T-shirts and mixtapes to users who visit the site regularly and send out weekly e-mail updates trumpeting its content.
Though www.305hiphop.com gets around one million hits per month, it's still operating in the red. The same artists and labels who are inundating them with content have yet to return the favor with banner advertising. "We're having some growing pains right now," admits Carlos Garcia, who adds that everyone has day jobs. "We're hoping, in the coming year, that people see what we've been able to do throughout last year, that we can start getting some support -- some advertising money, investors."
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