An investigation into one of the internet’s most prolific tastemakers.
If you’re an active Twitter user and in-touch with the underground rap scene, odds are you’ve come across Internet Hippy‘s wisdom at one point or another. His undeniable ear for music and endless amount of knowledge has helped the 23-year-old establish himself as one of the most respected tastemakers in the game.
We had the chance to chop it up with Internet Hippy (aka Tom) to learn more about his rapidly growing empire. Keep reading below to learn more about one of the World Wide Web’s most important voices.
How old are you?
I’m 23 years old.
Where are you from?
I’m from Millis, Massachusetts. It’s a tiny ass town near Foxborough, where the Patriots play.
Is Internet Hippy your full time job? If not, what do you do for a living?
Nah it’s not my full time job. I make a lil money off merch sales and SoundCloud reposts, but I just put it back into the brand anyways. A month ago I was working at Guitar Center. I just moved to NYC to work for a record label though, so I’m in the middle of meeting with all them to see who’s tryna pay me the most.
Do people know your identity in real life?
It’s definitely not a secret. My name is Tom, I am a regular ass dude. I lived in the middle of nowhere so I’d only ever meet people from the scene when I went into Boston for a show. I’ve met a bunch of internet friends since moving to New York though, so I’ve been “unmasked” to a lot of people recently. That being said, I got a handful of videos on my YouTube just shooting the shit for two hours on livestream so it’s not like it’s ever been a secret.
Does Internet Hippy have a team or is it just you?
It’s just me, but I obviously rely on the works of countless artists to give me stuff to post, so shoutout the artists for contributing to Internet Hippy as well.
When did you start your blog, and what were your intentions?
I started in the summer of 2013 after I graduated High School. I wanted to rap at the time so I was brainstorming ways I could get on without any connections. The way A$AP Yams used his Tumblr blog to put on A$AP Rocky seemed like the blueprint for how to do it, so I figured I’d start a blog and eventually post my own shit. I soon realized I was a better blogger than rapper.
Who were some of the artists you covered when you first launched the site?
I started out covering artists from groups like Raider Klan, Metro Zu, & Green Ova; and have been covering the logical evolution of those guys ever since. I saw there was a lane for that, because it was pretty much just Mishka & a few YouTube channels like Trillphonk, Hauntxr, & Astari that were specializing in it. I had no idea that literally every other blog would be tryna get in on that lane 5 years later.
How would you describe your personal taste in music?
I love hip-hop. Pretty much all of it. I always say that; pretty much anything other than Mike Stud type frat rap and Hopsin type fake deep shit is cool by me. People probably peg me as the type of guy that only listens to Pouya & $uicideboy$ or whatever, but that’s so far from the truth. That’s just what my blog is about because I was smart enough to recognize the opening in that lane. If I posted about the other music I listened to like Mac Miller, Drake, YG, etc., you probably wouldn’t have asked me to do this interview.
Describe the differences between the blogosphere when you started, and how it is now.
The difference is when I started, I was 1 of like 6 people doing what I’m doing. Now there is hardly anybody in the “blogosphere” that’s not doing what I’m doing. Also, the artists are relying on a whole lot more publicity stunts than before. It’s funny looking at the normal ass dudes like Pouya & Chris Travis & Robb Bank$ who were regular guys with a talent for music, & then comparing them to the artists popping off now who are more or less cartoon characters.
How do you generally discover new music? What’s the rarest find you’ve ever came across?
I just live and breathe this stuff so it kinda comes to me. I’ll be listening to an artist I like and hear a feature from someone new and bam, new artist discovered. Sometimes my supporters who are familiar with my “brand” will @ me or DM me to put me onto someone I should know. The “rarest find” I ever had was probably Tay-K, real early. He wasn’t totally unknown, Diego Money & Fat Nick showed him some love around the same time, but as soon as “The Race” dropped, I think I recognized its potential more than anyone else.
The track had less than a thousand plays and I had that shit on repeat. I never post single tracks, but I tweeted that one out and said how it had me going crazy and shit. I sent it to like three A&Rs telling them how it was by far my favorite track at the time. It was rare not cause I was the only who knew about it, but because I think I was the only one not from his camp that really saw how special that particular song was.
When did you notice an increase in traction on Internet Hippy?
When the Twitter character limit increased, to be honest. I had written little paragraphs saying nice things for like 4 1/2 years when I realized, “Who the fuck even clicks these blog links? Why don’t I just go directly to fans on Twitter?” My shit like quadrupled in size in a few months. It’s funny cause people I had known for years all of a sudden liked me more (or sometimes less) when I literally just changed the medium I worked in ever so slightly.
What’s the craziest thing to come out of your experience as Internet Hippy thus far?
I assume you mean “crazy” in a positive way, so I’d say talking to executives who really control the industry has been super wild to me, as a fan of the genre. Whether it’s sitting with Todd Moscowitz, or talking to Jeff Vaughn on the phone, or exchanging DM’s with Tunji, or just witnessing Lyor Cohen in the 300 office; that type of stuff is so legendary to me because that’s what I’m working towards.
If I can also mention something crazy in the less positive meaning of the word, Lil Peep’s passing was something really shocking to me that had a bigger impact than any other experience I’ve had in this music shit. We weren’t “best friends” or anything crazy, unfortunately never got a chance to link in real life, but if you spend as much time doing internet music stuff as I do, then you inevitably start to become internet buddies with a lot of these people. You talk for ten minutes here and there, you watch each other grow & move closer to achieving their dreams, and you stay in touch and root each other on. Peep was quickly becoming the most successful person I had ever had the pleasure of being internet buddies with, and then he just suddenly passed. Craig Xen, someone who I had also become cool with in the early days of Schemaposse, DM’d me something like “Bro, they’re saying Gus is dead” at like 2 in the morning. That shit genuinely hurts to this day, & will every time I think about.
What is your end goal? Build Internet Hippy into a media giant, land an A&R gig, start your own label?
Imma try to do all that shit. I already landed an A&R gig and have been offered a lil label imprint. Really I just wanna move the genre forward and have a big impact, while also living comfortably. I will say “blogging” is definitely not my passion though, it’s just easy cause I can write well & there’s no barrier to entry in the field.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
I love discovering artists before industry people do, and then watching those same industry people get all up on their dick six months later. It lets me know I got the potential to go far in this shit.
Least favorite part?
I hate when an artist has something negative to say about you, when you’ve done nothing but support and help advance their career for years. It’s funny, you can go on any bloggers personal twitter and see a bunch of tweets of them being butt hurt about that exact type of shit. It’s part of the game. Blogging sucks, I would never recommend it.
If you could start Internet Hippy all over again, is there anything you’d change in your approach? If so, what?
I would just work harder pretty much. I had no idea this would lead to as many opportunities as it did. If I knew Raider Klan and Thraxxhouse and Schemaposse were gonna impact the landscape of music as much as they did, I woulda made sure I established Internet Hippy as the source for all this SoundCloud shit. I think people recognize I’m the top source of knowledge for this shit, but I do wish I would have translated it to more and better content than I have so far.