Initially created and founded by Questlove in Philadelphia as a diary of his life in hip hop and to detail the start of The Roots, Okayplayer quickly blossomed into being the hub of all black expression in the arts, music, film, culture, politics and lifestyle. Along with hosting artists’ websites and merchandising, OkayPlayer became a record label, a Twitter-like message board before there was Twitter. It subdivided into sister sites such as OkayAfrica for African music, LargeUp for reggae, OkayFuture for electronic music, and Revivalist for jazz. It even sponsored tours and the annual Roots Picnic whose June 26 iteration, on Friday, goes virtual for the first time.
Now, there is trouble at the mill, something quickly taken care of, and spoken out about by Quest himself.
Okayplayer and OkayAfrica released a statement this morning announcing that the organizations have severed all ties and accepted the resignation of CEO and publisher Abiola Oke. “We take the allegations that have surfaced very seriously, and we stand with the brave women who came forward.” The company’s statement states outside advisor will “review and investigate our current and past policies and practices” and that “further action will be announced.”
Questlove, a co-founder of Okayplayer, with screenwriter/author Angela Nissel, shared the company’s statement on his Instagram and added: “More announcements coming up. This was long overdue.”
The allegations and actions against Oke come after an open letter hit Twitter late last night from employees of Okayplayer and OkayAfrica sharing their work experiences at the company over the last five years.
“From 2015 to 2020, several Black Women working across Okayplayer and OkayAfrica were subject to a lack of support and resources, below-market salaries, inadequate leadership, targeting and sabotage, slander, verbal abuse, inappropriate behavior, gaslighting, lack of empathy, manipulation, rationalizing poor or unethical conduct and wrongful termination,” the letter reads.
They asked that Oke “step down or be removed” as CEO and publisher. So Questlove made it so.