By: Matthew Spence
When it comes to media outlets as a whole, whether it may be for: music, politics, film, entertainment, sports, and so on. There’s always some criticism and possibly animosity towards them, whether it may be biased, lack of objectivity and more. In Hip-Hop, over the years, has had one very polarizing and controversial outlet, the one and only VladTv. VladTv was founded by none other than DJ Vlad in 2006.
Before the channel DJ Vlad, born Vladislav Lyubovny, started out as a DJ and doing mixtapes in the early 2000s, then slowly made his way into doing street DVDs and directing videos for up-in-coming artists, then he transitioned into movies & documentaries and others such as the TV series American Gangster, to finally starting Vladtv. In an interview with “HipHoplt.com” from 2014 he went and explained his origins and what led up to him starting the company: “Just being in the industry of CDs and DVDs, which were quickly going away, I was trying to figure out a way to take what I was doing into a business area that was growing rather than disappearing. Once the internet videos started becoming reality with YouTube, I right away saw that this is the future. I dropped everything I was doing and took my full focus on VladTV and our YouTube channel. Six years later, I’m essentially doing the same thing as in 2008 and have stayed pretty well.” Which if you see the amount of subscribers and the number of views he has gotten in the past 30 days according to “Socialblade.com” we can see how. But with its success over the years, it has also garnered mixed emotions with hip-hop goers over the years.
With Vlad being a ”foreign white man” and with his content focusing on being the “World’s Leader in Urban News” , the title of culture vulture has been thrown at him numerous times by many, including the late rapper Bankroll Fresh uncle Marvin Shadi Powers, who wrote a real fierce and rage-filled letter towards Vlad, for Vladtv having Bankroll’s alleged killer No Plug for an interview and with him claiming it was “self-defense”. Bankroll’s uncle says: “Dear Vlad, (VladTV),…You disrespectful culture vulture. I offered you to talk to my family when my nephew was first killed. Did you call us or reached out to the Street Money Worldwide family or his father and mother to get a rebuttal to No Plug’s story? None of that! When I asked you to interview Bankroll PJ and how he was continuing the legacy, you had a subordinate call me to tell me, you’re passing on PJ. He had just released a new single out plus he’s starring in a new FX TV show (Atlanta) this fall with Childish Gambino but no that was too positive, huh? Not enough black on black crime?”. Vladtv and Vlad, himself, has stepped on plenty of toes and has made several enemies in the hip-hop industry including Joe Budden, Rick Ross, to 50 Cent to Lil B and more. Rick Ross entourage attacked Vlad in 2008 allegedly for coverage of him being a C.O., and he sued for $4 million, but they settled out of court for $300,000.
Joe Budden is the most, if not, one of the most prominent criticizer of the channel and of DJ Vlad. All of that stemming back to December of 2008 when Vladtv documented and uploaded a video of rapper Ransom, then a rival of Budden, going to Joe Budden's “best friend” place looking for Joe and then one of Ransoms partners smacking Joe’s friend which was very unprovoked. After that incident, Joe has had animosity and disdain for Vladtv. A couple weeks after in January of 2009 Joe and Vlad had a discussion (Vlad was via phone call) on the Shade 45 Morning with Angela Yee (Note this is the video you guys uploaded a couple of years ago), during this conversation Joe explains how Vlad should be accountable for the things he promotes and stories he runs: “…A platform for what? Is what I’m asking. If two black guys call each other nigger and shoot each other in the eyes, it’s up to channel 5 or 9 whether they’ll put that story on the news.…” “I’ve been of Vladtv, you’re much brighter than the people on Vladtv, much brighter”. Then as he discusses the video of Ransom he states “…You already know what you are doing when you put a camera in front of these people, you know what’s happening, you know what you are initiating you know the part that not DJ Vlad, but, Vladtv is playing. Vladtv is now the only outlet that will showcase the bullshit cause no one else will”. A few minutes later after going back and forth on if he should be held accountable of what he puts out Joe asks “If he would do a Vladtv from Ransom's funeral?” Vlad answered “Possibly”. Overall Joe went to say there’s a difference between “the show vs reality” and he shouldn’t be posting the street shit.
Years later on the Complex show “Everyday Struggle”, when Vladtv was brought up Joe said “..I’m shocked I’m even talking about him on the show…Fuck Vlad that’s how I feel about Vlad”. A few moments later in the show DJ Akademiks (who’s polarizing in his own right) mentioned how we should hold rappers accountable for their interviews and answers, to combat that Joe says “We don’t only judge Vlad for his interview style, we have over 10 years of behaviors and patterns from Vlad…Vlad has famously snitched (referring to the Rick Ross incident in 2009) and sued and won money…so who’s supposed to fuck with Vlad”. Which transition us into the most recurring joke and reason (well one of the reasons) of the dislike of Vlad is the accusation of being the police.
Vladtv has a unique but sort of suspicious style of interviewing that has been compared to an interrogation style; his guest will sit in front of the camera while Vlad is behind the camera and asking questions that can seem very incriminating and much like a setup. Many people refer to Vlad as “the feds,” “the police” and more. “The BasedGod” Lil B went on Twitter rant in 2016 against Vlad stating: Any u rappers new and old during interviews with DJ Vlad y’ all looking real burnt y’ all fucking with a rat and y’ all marks”.In March of 2017, DJ Vlad and Vince Staples went at it on Twitter after Vlad implied that Vince was upset with him for some reason. Eventually leading to Vince stating theirs no bad blood between them but: “I just ain’t trying to sit down and talk about gangbangin’ for 30 minutes”.
An example of why Vlad gets called the feds is the Ralo situation. Rapper Ralo got arrested for having over $1 million dollars in marijuana on a private plane and was accused of running “cross-country Drug Operation” in early 2018. Many people point to his Vladtv interviews as what lead to him being arrested and searched, due to his incriminating info such as making over 10 million dollars in the drug game and the Feds watching him at that moment.
In a February 2019 of Vladtv with Yukkmouth of the rap group Luniz, Yukkmouth jokingly called Vlad the Feds after Vlad how he hasn’t been able to interview legendary J Prince: “Cause you the motherfucking FEDS Vlad (laughs)…You ain’t the FEDS, but, when you get the people to open up, it turns into the interrogation room”. And in a more recent interview with Tsu Surf he claims to that Vlad has gotten people indicted saying: “Realistically, there are such things as bait, you’re a baiter. Of course, you wouldn’t take the bait and say “Yeah I got people indicted”, but you fish and some of my peers and people that sat in this seat aren’t fast enough and witty enough to know when there is bait being swung their way. You know when it says unknown CI, of course, you didn’t do it but come on.”
In his defense Vlad brings up the fair point stating: “Some people who have interviewed with me get arrested after the fact, but, it was never because my interview just comes and suddenly they get arrested, they get arrested for whatever illegal activity they were doing prior to it, and you know the police won’t just look at the interview with me they’ll look at everything as a whole, they’ll at all the other interviews they’ve done, they’ll look at the Instagram.” and then to clarify that: “I never talk about the situation anyone is actively doing now, I would never ask what illegal activity are currently doing now”.
While Vladtv may have its cons, but you give some credit where credit is due, being that Vladtv helped relaunch the career of Brand Nubian member and Oz cast member Lord Jamar, who has been a guest for over 5 years known for his unpopular opinions on certain topics such as white rappers and homosexuality; and often Vladtv releases good interviews. While their hatred towards Vladtv, there’s also support for the platform, with prominent figures in Hip-Hop form Roc-A-Fella Records Co-Founder Kareem “Biggs” Burke, Tech N9ne, Killer Mike, Nick Cannon among others giving Vladtv interviews.
Overall, Vladtv has become an infamous entity in Hip-Hop, whether you agree and enjoy with its content or not, whether you believe it’s for the culture or not, with its huge following it seems that it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.