Before Gucci Mane had a six-pack and rappers who originated on SoundCloud were topping the pop charts, big conversations around the rapidly changing world of rap on the internet took place on Tumblr. The platform catered to the outsider corners of rap fandom and facilitated the rise of Lil B, Odd Future, A$AP Rocky, and others.
It was in this online rap community that George Potter, an aspiring writer from “the middle of fucking nowhere Pennsylvania,” started No Jumper in 2011 with the goal of covering emerging artists being ignored by larger media publications. The site, which was financed by Adam Grandmaison, then a fixture in the online BMX world, was active for around a year before posts slowed to stop in 2012. During the No Jumper blog's heyday (the posts have been deleted from the current No Jumper site), Potter and a small team of contributors interviewed early internet rap pioneers like Clams Casino, reviewed Gucci Mane mixtapes, and generally treated the genre’s underground with serious critical attention.
Over the last three years, No Jumper has reemerged as an influential YouTube interview series, with Grandmaison playing host to the rising stars of internet rap’s new generation, including XXXTentacion and 6ix9ine among others. His own profile has risen too: this month, Grandmaison announced a new imprint deal with Atlantic. But with that growing fame, there has also been growing controversy: allegations of rape and assault (which he denies) and a number of disturbing posts, allegedly published by Grandmaison, on BMX forums and his personal blog have begun circulating online.
In a recent interview with The FADER, Potter explained how No Jumper went from his personal passion project to Grandmaison’s contentious brand.
GEORGE POTTER: No Jumper was supposed to be a hip-hop alternative to Pitchfork or something, where we would cover strictly hip-hop and give it the same sort of analysis that other genres were getting. At the time, rap wasn’t really being covered that well. Sites were always trashing trap rappers and praising the backpack rappers back then. The idea was to do interviews and in-depth reviews on rappers who weren’t getting covered in other places. We were one of the first sites to really give in in-depth look to Future before he blew up, we covered a lot of Gucci Mane stuff, we tried to break artists. SoundCloud wasn’t really around or it wasn’t the platform for rap then that it is now.
I first connected with Adam [Grandmaison] on Tumblr. He followed me; I remember him telling me he was a big fan of my writing. When I realized I needed funds to do all this, I went to Adam because I saw he was successful with The Come Up [a BMX news site and forum] and his own online shit, plus he was a fan of what I was doing. There wasn’t ever really a true discussion about ownership — we were supposed to be co-owners and co-founders, which we were at the time, but there was never any paperwork signed or anything. Adam was the financier — he got the website set up and was paying the bills. But otherwise he didn’t really have any involvement in the original No Jumper. He was the co-founder with me but he was very hands off. I think he contributed to the site once, which was a video interview with Riff Raff.
I wasn’t aware of any of the allegations against Adam at the time. I Googled his name when he first reached out and read a few interviews he did. He definitely shared some strange shit, but I didn’t know about any of the stuff we’re seeing now. Most of that was on BMX forums that I wasn’t reading. Maybe I should’ve looked harder.
“A lot of people didn’t feel genuine about it to me, and the idea of people moving in and using rap to benefit their own career bugged me.”
Most of the original No Jumper writing happened in the first six months. For a while there, it was becoming more and more successful. Danny Brown was a big fan of No Jumper; [A$AP] Yams always supported what we had going. But I had some stuff going on personally and I drifted away from writing in 2012 and left it up to other people who were contributing. It sort of fizzled out. I wasn’t really a fan of what I was seeing online. I never really felt like a lot of the people writing about rap were covering it because they were actually into rap. A lot of people didn’t feel genuine about it to me, and the idea of people moving in and using rap to benefit their own career bugged me. I also wasn’t prepared for the criticism that No Jumper was receiving. I think one writer I really respected called it the “rap version of Huffington Post.” I guess some people thought it was gimmicky but, to me, we were just covering shit that other people weren’t looking at.
Around 2012, Adam was talking about how he wanted to take No Jumper in a different direction. He was set on moving me out to California to write for the site full-time. I was interested for sure but nothing really came of it. I think it was late 2015 when he came to me and said that he wanted to do this podcast with BMX riders and use the No Jumper name. I wasn’t doing anything with it at the time, and this podcast wasn’t supposed to be a music thing at all, so I said that’s fine. It didn’t seem like it was going to be a continuation of what we’d worked on before. I think the first rapper he interviewed was Xavier Wulf and that led to him interviewing more rappers. He came to me again at that time and said he wanted to do a writing side of No Jumper and, of course, that never came about.
I messaged him last year and was like, “I’m happy for your success but it bugs me to see the name I came up with used for all this shit.” He’s selling T-shirts for $40 with a name I came up with on it and he’s not even acknowledging that I was ever a part of it. And he was like, “Yeah, I understand, man. It’s like being kicked out of the band before they’re successful but it’s just a name — there’s not really anything you can do about it.” So, I just let that sit and breathe. Then he brought the No Jumper festival like 20 minutes away from where I live and didn’t send out an invite; I started to feel more personally disrespected.
Looking at it now, I feel somewhat grateful for the fact that I’m not involved in No Jumper, considering everything around it. I’m grateful that I’m not partners with Adam anymore. The last time I spoke to him, he told me I was making up lies and trying use Yams to push my agenda or something like that. I told him to enjoy the celebrity while it lasts and he was like, “It’s gonna last forever, watch me.” And, of course, I’m watching now.
In response to a request for comment from The FADER, Grandmaison wrote:
Basically back in maybe 2010 or so George and I were both rap Tumblr guys. We were huge fans of Asap Yams, he would write stuff about Soulja Boy that I thought was good etc. so at one point we got to talking and I said I wanted to start a blog where we could cover a lot of the underground rappers that we liked. So I bought the URL and hosting and we decided he would be the editor. (I already had a lot of experience running a blog bc of my BMX site thecomeup.com ) He wrote some stuff and got a few of his friends to write stuff. It was understood that I would start paying him once the site started to get a serious amount of traffic. But then he stopped posting and we stopped talking and I lost interest in the project as did he.
But then a few years ago I wanted to start a podcast where I interviewed rappers and streetwear brands and shit. So I hit him and asked if it was cool if I used the name and he said sure since it had been dormant for many years at that point.
I mean I owned the url so I was just asking to use the name to be polite. He didn’t have anything to say about it until the YouTube channel became big as of late and I’ve heard that he’s a little salty about it now/blocked me on twitter etc. The original nojumper was really only active for a couple months and never really made too much of an impact but some people remember the original version.