Keep on HustliN'

Keep on HustliN’ is a website that plays Van McCoy’s Keep on Hustlin’ whenever someone uses the word “hustle” on Hacker News.


While for some the word hustle may recall summer afternoons spent chasing the ol’ pig skin, and while others may associate hustling with the famed Wall Street furry-fests of the late 1980s, the image the word brings to my mind is decidedly less positive. To me, hustle suggests something slimy, slightly devious and underhanded. Dirty. And a hustle is small. It is not a heist or a scheme or a swindle, rather it is altogether pathetic when dragged out in the light. Shady salesmen, pickup artists, Martin Shkreli; those are people who hustle.

So when I come across articles with titles like “How we hustled our way to mega spondulix in 12 days” or see phrases like “side-hustle,” I can’t help but cringe a little. Because hustling is not something to strive for; it’s not something to celebrate. And so I decided to turn the negative experience of seeing all this hustle flaunting into the positive experience of Van McCoy’s Keep on Hustlin’. Can’t go wrong with McCoy. And now I can’t help but smile a little whenever I come across such hustlage.

But what of this other H word: hacker? Don’t aspects of hacking—and specifically growth hacking—fall under what you may term a hustle? True, but I think there is an important distinction. A hacker works outside the system, exploiting it in order to achieve their own goals, be it profit or just having fun. A hustler on the other hand is a product of the system. They work within it to achieve the goals that the system set out for them.

A fair number of people on hacker news seem to share my dislike of “hustling”, with many of the mentions of the word actually railing against it. Indeed the most hustly post thus far is a definition of the word itself. Most HN. Thankfully, it also seems that we’ve hit peak hustle, with the number of “hustles” per month saying flat or even declining since 2011:

This means that you may have to keep Keep on HustliN’ open for a while in order to experience an organic HN hustle. Therefore, I recommend trying out Keep on Hustlin’ Forever. It operates under the theory that if one rendition of Keep on Hustlin’ is good, than 30 renditions of Keep on Hustlin’ at the same time must be better. The resulting auditory experience grows oddly compelling after ten minutes or so.

Of course I also made some letterpress prints for the project.

Of course I also made some letterpress prints for the project.