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The former editor of XXL magazine is getting back in the rap magazine game—this time, online.
Elliott Wilson is preparing to launch RapRadar, a Web site he hopes will eventually be a Huffington Post-like destination for hip-hop music fans and, perhaps, a print magazine. First, though, he says, he wants to develop a voice that has been lacking among Web sites that cover rap—that is, something akin to Perez Hilton.
The New York-based site is slated to go live March 9.
When it does, RapRadar will enter a highly-competitive category—with established Web sites including AllHipHop.com, SOHH.com and upstarts like NahRight covering the space alongside MTV, Billboard, the Source and even XXLmag.com, which Wilson launched during his XXL tenure.
“There are a lot of sites out there that do news, and a lot do gossip,” Wilson told FOLIO:. “But not a lot of them can put it into the proper context, where it’s journalism versus pure gossip. I want to raise the bar journalistically. The public is hungry for both.”
Once the ad-supported site is up and running, Wilson plans to invite artists and producers to post entries, Huffington Post-style. “If Jay-Z wants to express his feelings about Obama, there’s not really a forum where he can do that right now,” he said. (Wilson’s Soul of a Hustler, an authorized biography of Jay-Z, is scheduled to published in Spring 2010 by Atria/Simon & Schuster.)
The venture is being backed by Paul Rosenberg, Eminem’s manager with whom Wilson launched Makavelliott LLC. “But this isn’t gonna be an Eminem fan site,” Wilson said.
Wilson—whose wife, Danyel Smith, is the editorial director of Vibe—still thinks rap magazines are viable, and is hoping Rap Radar will eventually make its way to print.
“If you’re a magazine, in this climate, you have to prove your value,” Wilson said. “You are looking at your editorial staff of 10 or 15 people saying, ‘Who are the seven people I can keep and still put out a magazine?’”
Wilson added: “Right now, the goal is to build a brand.”