Closed Sessions: Omar Burgess Of HHDX Talks Industry, His Start, & Hip-Hop DX

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While at a new media panel during the A3C festival, I met the author of militant hip hop cultural commentary, Omar Burgess of Hip-Hop DX (HHDX). He is one of the authoritative voices for hip-hop in our generation, and I reached out to him with hopes that he would share some of his wisdom… For this closed session, Omar shared tidbits on his top 3 lessons learned while working in the industry, how he went about developing his editorial talent, connecting with HHDX and how he gave his opinion worth.

Omar: “Top three lessons… It’s an INDUSTRY in every sense of the word. So don’t necessarily try to befriend artists or peers for that matter, because you may end up disappointed. With that said, being true to yourself, your craft the culture can yield some organic friendships and business partnerships. And those are what you should shoot for. Honesty and professionalism go a long way. To this day, there are dozens of people I wouldn’t dare consider friends. But we’re up front with each other and have mutually beneficial understandings because we know which lines not to cross.

Any talent people may think I have is a byproduct of good, old-fashioned Journalism School, hard work and dumb luck or being blessed. A lot of the things professors taught during those days (i.e. the inverted pyramid writing style) are almost obsolete now. But basic things like fact-checking, proper sentence structure and knowing what makes for a compelling read never go out of style.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to our Editor-In-Chief, Jake Paine, our Senior Writer Paul Arnold and Big Fella “The Hustlin’ Gourmet.” Paul was interviewing Big Fella for an assignment and Big Fella mentioned my name. That led to an informal introduction to both Paul and Jake (we were all contributing to AllHipHop at one time), and the rest is history. On a random side note, I was working at a Kroger deli during my senior year in college at the time. I had a habit of sneaking GQ and Esquire magazines to the back when things got slow, and I would study the format and tone of their feature articles as if they were textbooks.

Like many of our core readers, I’ve been a Hip Hop junkie since my mom caught me listening to NWA’s “Dopeman” back in elementary. I’m not sure what makes anyone an authority other than experience and dedication. But in close to a decade covering Hip Hop music and culture, the artists I interview and critique on a daily basis recognize that the work my peers and I do at DX adds something of value to the culture. And, when they’re not trashing us in the comment section, many of the millions of people that visit our site say the same thing.”

—Follow Omar on twitter: @FourFingerRings