UndergroundHipHop.com Will Remain Open After A Hip-Hop Artist Purchases Store
UPDATE: Following the December 28 report (below), UndergroundHipHop founder Adam “Quest” Walder has announced that the vendor and website will have some new ownership, preventing its previously announced closing.
In a January 3 update, Walder discussed the outpouring of support from customers, forum users, and artists. “I had a fantastic dinner meeting with a hip hop artist, who is interested in purchasing the company. This individual has been a fan of the site since our inception 20 years ago and has come a long way from a passionate underground hip hop artist to running a successful company of his own. He not only has passion for our genre, but has a lot of resources and ideas to make UGHH a profitable entity. The great thing is we are both friends with many of the same people in our industry, so there is an instant comfort level working with him (as opposed to a random venture capital firm for example). We talked about ideas for 2017 and beyond, hip hop in general, and ate some delicious Asian cuisine – not a bad night 🙂 The meeting ended with a commitment to partner on an immediate re-launch of UGHH.com while details of an organizational re-structure (i.e. transfer of ownership) are worked out during the month of January. I have confidence that this individual will be able to do many things for UGHH that we have wanted to do for years, but never had the resources or man power to do.”
Later, he writes, “So how will this transfer of ownership look? UGHH will continue to operate out of Boston, but we would now have a satellite office out of Manhattan. The website will continue to operate the way it has been (at least for the foreseeable future) – keeping the online store stocked with all of the great products we are known for and of course, running smoothly as we always have. The new owner shares our love for customer service and wants the store to thrive again before he begins to implement his ideas as time moves forward. However, the one idea the new owner would like to do immediately is to host a celebratory concert for our 20th year anniversary as soon as possible so if you have ideas of who you would like to see perform, leave it in the comments below.”
The new owner is not revealed. Only Apathy, of Demigodz and Army Of The Pharaohs is mentioned, as somebody who reportedly connected the prospective new owner with Walder.
The Original December 28 Report:
Since before the term “Underground Hip Hop” was in the Rap lexicon, Boston, Massachusetts based UndergroundHipHop.com has been a keystone in the culture. Launched in 1997, by Adam “Quest” Walder, the site (and subsequent retail store) became a destination for those seeking grassroots Hip-Hop audio, video, and discussion forums that featured numerous would-be professional artists. Some of the acts that the site and store supported would come to include Eminem, Talib Kweli, DOOM, Madlib, Jedi Mind Tricks, Anticon, and El-P, among countless others.
Approaching its 20th anniversary in just days, Quest announced that the elite retailer of CDs, vinyl, merchandise, and street-wear is closing its website and retail operations. “We have been fighting our hardest to stay in business for the past few years, but with declining revenues it is impossible to stay in business at this point,” wrote the UGHH.com company founder as part of a longer statement. “I started UGHH out of my Northeastern University dorm room in 1997 as nothing more than a hobby to share the underground hip hop music I loved so much with the world. I had no idea it would lead into a 20 year career doing what I love to do – bringing this culture to the masses.”
Further in the statement, the Hip-Hop Head examined his personal trajectory through Hip-Hop. “Running your own business is incredibly hard (and rewarding) work and I am very proud with what my team and I were able to achieve with this website. We had a retail store for 10 years (another dream of mine come true), became close friends with many of the artists we are fans of (I went to Apathy’s wedding!), and helped so many labels and artists get the exposure they deserved. I could have worked a standard office job after college, but I followed my dreams and created a world renown, highly respected website loved by many.” In the late 1990s, Mike D of the Beastie Boys and their Grand Royal Records imprint were reportedly among those interested in investing in the dot com destination. After the web bubble burst, UGHH stayed the course of an independent store and site.
Wordsworth of The eMC and Reef The Lost Cauze (Army Of The Pharaohs) were among those to react publicly to the sad news:
The mentioned Boston-based retail location which opened in the 2005 and closed in 2014 featured over 200 in-store appearances, including GZA, Little Brother, Kool Keith, and Cormega, among others. The site presently features a gallery of Polaroid photos from many of these appearances. They also have a video library, which includes one of the earliest filmed interviews with Bad Meets Evil-era Eminem and Royce 5’9″ from 1998:
Other online Hip-Hop music sites including HipHopSite have also closed, with that example shuttering in 2015.
Salute to UndergroundHipHop as a pioneering bridge between Hip-Hop culture and the web, and introducing many Heads (including some of us) to so many artists we know and love. And thank you deeply for letting me get some of my own first ink back in the late ’90s there, too.
#BonusBeat: A.G. performing the DJ Premier remix of Showbiz & A.G.’s “Next Level” at the UGHH store in 2006:
This song originally appeared on 1995’s Goodfellas, which released less than two years before the site launched.