He's From Cleveland

How a 17-year-old kid became a hip-hop tastemaker

At 13, most boys are either playing football in the backyard with the neighbor kids or playing video games or illegally downloading Lil Wayne tracks. When John Stursa was 13, he was building a Myspace account to showcase Cleveland's blossoming hip-hop scene.

Stursa, now a soft-spoken 17-year-old, is somewhat of a blogging prodigy here in town. DJ EV, the busy Cleveland DJ who's collaborated with Kid Cudi, stumbled on Stursa's Myspace page and hatched an idea. For years, EV wanted to create a website that showcased Cleveland music, and he finally found the right person to handle the job. Stursa is now responsible for most daily posting duties at the popular website imfromcleveland.com.

In fact, Stursa is pretty much running the site by himself, while also contributing to Leak Jones, another of DJ EV's blogs. But Stursa's best action these days can be found on his ClevelandMusic YouTube page (youtube.com/user/newCLEVELANDmusic216), where he boasts more than 4,000 subscribers and posts seemingly every Cleveland hip-hop song ever recorded.

In the past week alone, Stursa has showcased everything from Kid Cudi's new cut "Dennis, Hook Me Up With Some More of This Whiskey" to MGK's "Wild Boy (Remix)" video featuring 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, Mystikal, French Montana, and Yo Gotti.

And he does it all with little or no commentary. He's rarely critical. He says of the new Cudi track, "[He] may be back to rapping," an allusion to Cudi's recent and disastrous rap-rock side project WZRD, which was slammed across the board by fans. That's as tough as it gets for Stursa, who would rather just post videos and tracks ranging from the pop-leaning iPhonic to the decidedly harder Young Shank.

Stursa's internet persona also stretches to Twitter, where his more than 1,000 followers include Machine Gun Kelly and Chip Tha Ripper. "Back in the day, Machine Gun Kelly used to tweet my links off his Twitter and his Facebook," he says. "Chip Tha Ripper actually still does that now. It's awesome. It makes me want to keep doing it because I get respect out of it."

But the life of a prominent young blogger isn't as glamorous as you might think. Stursa lives at home with seven brothers and sisters, with whom he often scraps for time on one of the multiple computers in the family's two-story Lorain home. His e-mail account fills up each day with Cleveland rappers pleading with him to post their music.

Stursa takes the time to read each message and listen to the music. If he doesn't like what he hears, he'll reply, advising the artist to keep working and sending new music his way. All of this is done after a long day of classes and sports practices at Elyria Catholic High School. Some days it takes hours to sift through and post everything.

Stursa hasn't exactly reached celebrity status yet, but MGK knew who he was when they met. And Stursa and Chip Tha Ripper have plans to work together in the studio sometime. But with college looming and blogging already taking up so much of his time, Stursa admits he's had second thoughts about his life on the web.

"I enjoy it a lot, but recently I've been thinking should I stop? But I just feel like I can't, because then all of that would be missing, and there's just not someone else doing exactly what I do for the Cleveland music scene."

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