TheHipHopGuru, founded in 2016 by Alex Henein (@stainlessreal), serves as a premier destination for artists and creatives within the Hip-Hop community. As a product of Hip-Hop culture, TheHipHopGuru (THHGURU) functions as both a platform and a resource for all aspects of the genre. With a commitment to promoting exceptional content and art across Hip-Hop, R&B, and Soul, THHGuru has established itself as a leader in the industry.
Based in Toronto, TheHipHopGuru’s reach extends across all major content platforms, and its audience continues to grow rapidly. With over 200 international artists supported and engagements from all corners of Hip-Hop culture, THHGuru remains dedicated to showcasing both established tastemakers and emerging talent; “the entirety of the culture deserves a voice, and we aim to provide it.”
We recently sat down with @THHGURU’s founder Alex Henein, and discussed his passion for music, the coming of his hip-hop page, and where he hopes to take it in the future:
Q: Where are you from and what’s your background?
A: Grew up in Toronto and studied marketing in school!
Q: When did your passion for music begin and where does it stem from?
A: I’ve always been a fan of music. Hip-Hop / R&B has always been something I listened to growing up. From playing basketball, hanging out with friends, no matter the occasion.. Music would always be part of my everyday life. The success of artists and seeing someone go from the underground level to reaching mainstream success made me very intrigued with how the business side of music worked.
Q: Let’s dive into your page @thhguru, how did you come up with the name “The Hip-Hop Guru?”
A: Looking back on it, it was a pretty bold name to go with considering the “Guru” name. When I first started it, I thought of two things: if Rap Genius could do it (as a platform I studied) I could as well. The main reason behind the name was the origin of the platform’s goal: work as a medium to find new artists worldwide and be known as one or the best sources for new music and trusted content. Anything is possible if the work supports it.
Q: Would you consider yourself a strict fan of hip-hop or do you also find interest in any other music genres?
A: Majority of the music I listen to is hip-hop + R&B depending on the day. I’d say it takes up 90% of my music library. I like to look into where music is sampled from, so I like to expand my music knowledge.
Q: What made you decide to create this page?
A: I wanted to create a platform that gave artists a spotlight and try to shift the narrative with a platform that pushed the genre forward and give insight on the business side of music. A main point of focus was to push a positive narrative with an opportunity to share some insights learned along the way of the business side of music. I started the platform going on SoundCloud for hours each day finding new artists to post. I’d find the songs, post them on the website + the YouTube channel and do the same thing daily for a couple years. This is actually how we created the core following – artists we supported would show appreciation for us supporting their music. Over time we created the core support system and later went to posting news and conducting interviews.
Q: Were you expecting it to grow to be as big as it is now? How does it feel to see such vast and remarkable growth?
A: The growth of the platform still surprises me to this day. I had to learn everything about the industry through trial and error so the current growth and success is truly rewarding. People don’t see the amount of work that goes into creating a business and typically only see the business when it has reached a mainstream level. I still see it as the company that was created from nothing so I will always have respect for the people who take the time out of their day to show support. We’re just getting started!
Q: Taking a look at your page, you’ve developed a couple incredible interview series. How did those come about and what was the vision behind each?
A: Thank you! We currently have two series in production:
‘The Mic-Drop’ was created with the original plan to give artists an opportunity to have a platform to showcase their music. This was the goal from the original creation of the platform, find artists on SoundCloud for hours and post their music. The platform was created supporting independent artists and creating a community so seeing it grow into a show we can have people on is a full circle moment.
‘The Sit- Down’ is a traditional 1 on 1 interview series where we sit down with artists with the goal of understanding each guest’s story from a personal perspective. Our goal with ‘The Sit Down’ is to learn about artists in an intimate sense and give greater insight to fans on topics such as the artist’s life, approach to music ideation, career progression, and the music industry as a whole.
Q: Are you planning to drop some new interviews soon or a new series?
A: Our goal is to add a couple new interviews and shows in the near-future! Really excited to have people see what we have been working on.
Q: You were recently approved for official coverage at Rolling Loud Toronto? How did that feel and how was that overall experience?
A: Getting approved for Rolling Loud was a huge moment for us. It allowed me to realize the possibilities and heights we could reach as an independent platform. This was our first festival coverage so being selected to be part of the first Rolling Loud in Toronto was a big moment. It was amazing to see Rolling Loud come to the city of Toronto. It’s remarkable to see how much the festival has grown over the years and the continued growth expanding to new cities and countries.
Q: Any specific highlights for you that occurred at the event?
A: Just being there, interviewing the festival attendees, watching the headlining acts, amazing opportunity to be part of.. Really cool to see some of the local acts have a large stage to perform as well. Toronto has a lot of artists that deserve more recognition.
Q: What impact do you hope to continue to make in the music and hip-hop industry through your page?
A: My original goal was to create a platform that shared information people could be motivated from and ultimately learn from. We want to show that there is more to the music industry than the traditional tabloid content and showcase the positive side of hip-hop. At the end of the day, I’m just a fan of music that created a platform. Nothing happened overnight so to see people support it over time is a victory in itself. If what I’ve done can motivate someone else to do the same, that would be the ultimate victory. The new goal is to have THHGURU go from a trending platform to a household name. We’re an independent player but we also have what it takes to make it. Everyday is a new opportunity to reach that goal.
Instagram: @thhguru / @thhgurutv / @stainlessreal