Frank Meyer’s recent comments about Freestyle 101’s Webby Award nomination reminded me of something that I’ve been meaning to post. He mentions how there’s a gap between “geek culture” and Hip-Hop. This may or may not be true but one more thing to fill in the possible gap is Hip-Hop’s contribution to the spark that ignited the revolution in digital distribution. Yes, we were there in the beginning and we were a driving force. No, Hip-Hop did not help to develop the code for the mp3 audio compression format or the code for the first major online media sharing network. But, guess what it did do. When Shawn Fanning was a college student he had a roommate that obsessively collected obscure rap on early mp3 sharing websites. His roommate’s problems with these early sites was actually the main inspiration that led Fanning to develop Napster. And yes, Napster was the first massively popular peer-to-peer sharing platform. I was in college roughly the same time as Fanning and I can share with you my first hand experience. There was lots of good indie rap on there. Stuff that at the time was obscure and hard to find. I came across this recently in various media outlets. If you’re interested in it here’s a transcript from an old interview with Fanning conducted by CNN in 2005. Link