Non-fungible tokens (NFT’s) are the latest cryptocurrency craze to explode within the music industry.
Since they are related to standard cryptocurrency, NFT’s are like collectible sports cards — and essentially serve as a digital certificate of authenticity for, “an object, real or virtual,” a tech expert recently penned in the L.A. Times. In theory, an artist can utilize an NFT to create a virtual concert experience, or, use it as a collectible token that gives its owners access to a virtual or physical performance of the same kind.
Welcome to the future.
The possibilities for creative customization are endless, but the key is that NFT’s are figuratively concrete and can’t be broken down into smaller amounts. In essence, exclusivity is preferred within the NFT market, which offers an added layer of control for the artist on how they choose to make their art a commodity.
In an attempt to understand NFT’s and how they benefit both artists and their fans, HipHopDX broke down numerous current Hip Hop NFT experiences, and also spoke with the former host of DX’s The Breakdown YouTube series, KXNG Crooked, to uncover the potential NFT’s have to affect the music industry.
“I have crypto coins and I’ve been reading up blockchain tech just to stay in the mix of things,” KXNG Crooked tells DX regarding this topic. “NFT’s hit my radar around October of last year in a conversation with a tech genius I know. I went down a rabbit hole until I discovered what Beeple was doing and was blown away!”
Despite his zany stage presence, Lil Yachty was one of the first artists in the Hip Hop arena to utilize NFT’s. Last December, he managed to rake in over $16,000 for a single collectible coin NFT auction on the Nifty Gateway NFT marketplace.
More specifically, fans who own $YACHTY tokens gain exclusive access to the Grammy-nominated rapper via virtual parties and events created at his discretion. According to Coindesk, the token also grants access to gifts including a surprise box prepared by Yachty’s mom, Raising a Rapper author Venita McCollum, and personal items from Lil Boat’s career.
And while Yachty is focusing on a bevy of new rollouts this year, KXNG Crooked is weighing his options when it comes to his existing musical inventory.
“Recently someone sent me a clip of an executive from the newly launched Death Row Records speaking about releasing my music soon,” Crooked said. “In the clip, the exec said the company has reached out to all former artists and they plan to open the vault and release everything officially. Hundreds of songs from myself, and others. Although no one has reached out me, I would propose doing a partnership with the label and releasing all of my Death Row records material in the NFT space. That shit would be crazy.”
Artists have utilized NFT’s to offer specific events and highly curated experiences that facilitate personal interactions within the artist’s fanbase — and Post Malone, already known for his out-to-box collaborations with Crocs and Pokémon, wasted no time surfing onto the NFT wave.
According to a report from Billboard, Posty is teaming up with cryptocurrency firm Fyooz to offer a virtual beer pong competition to patrons who buy at least 1,000 $FYZNFTs digital coins. When fans purchase the required 1,000 $FYZNFTs, they will become apart of Fyooz’s “Moon Club” community — which gives them preferential access to all of Post Malone’s NFT drops. Also, $FYZNFTs holders will have the opportunity to compete in Posty’s World Pong League. Yachty reportedly earned $276,000 from selling social tokens with Fyooz last year.
The first Moon Club NFT drop is packed with unique content including NFT’s for Lil Yachty’s music videos, such as “Magnifying Glass” and “Hit Bout It” featuring Kodak Black, in addition to a virtual studio session experience with Mustard and more.
Fans will have an opportunity to cop $FYZNFTs in a live Clubhouse auction event on Thursday (March 25th). Their purchase unlocks a “Golden Hand” token animation image designed by digital artist Fvckrender, which actually serves as a ticket to the virtual pong game with Pongmaster Post.
But rappers just aren’t utilizing NFTs for music alone. The ever-controversial Azealia Banks also cashed in on the NFT trend with her innovative 24-minute audio sextape that fetched a cool $17,000 in an auction in on March 9.
The equally polarizing, Lil Pump, who is currently rinsing off the self-inflicted stink amid his pro-Trump re-election campaign, is boasting a new partnership with NFT platform Sweet, similar to Fyooz’s, where he’ll offer fans three collectible items.
Pump’s NFT features a limited run of 2,000 collectible cards for $9 and an exclusive, “uber-rare capstone ‘Esskeetit Diamond VVS’” NFT collectible of Lil Pump’s “Esketit” diamond chain. On Wednesday (March 10), the the Harvard Dropout rapper previously flooded the scene with the “Esskeetit Card” and the “Lil Pump Artist Card V1” for fans to cop through a link through Instagram.
“This is the future. Now you can live like me and own a rare NFT collectible of one of my favorite chains,” said Lil Pump in an emailed statement to DX. “There are only five in the world and for lucky fans, there are 500 free pieces and 2,000 at $9.99 Esskeetit!”
In an instantaneous capitalistic flip, Banks’ five-figure auction resulted in the re-sale of her audio sextape I FUCKED RYDER RIPPS. Insider reports a mysterious digital artist identified as Rulton Fyder re-listed for the NFT for sale with a shocking $270 million price tag 16-hours after it was originally auctioned.
One would assume the recent blitz of technological advances is only built for the newer generation but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The legendary Wu-Tang Clan — a legacy that obviously predates social media — has found ways to utilize their bottomless reel of photos from the years. Elsewhere, the late, great MF DOOM — who was already no stranger to employing unconventional ways to seed his music onto fans’ radars — also stands as an early NFT-adopter.
KXNG Crooked believes it’s necessary for iconic rap acts with hopes of sustaining longevity to engage in headfirst.
“I absolutely love it of all this,” Crooked exclaimed. “The old way was fly but we’re on this new wave now and I fuck with it heavy!! All my OG rappers out there from the hard copies era — please don’t get left behind! Jump on in … the waters fine!”
Photo: Wu-Tang Clan
First debuting to the world in 1993, the legendary Wu-Tang Clan has amassed enough snapshots to roll out a massive 300-page, 400-pound photography book titled Wu-Tang Clan: Legacy. An NFT donning the same name will also be unveiled and those lucky owners will receive one of the only 36-existing physical copies of the book upon its release.
With well over 15-studio albums and a career supplying two decades worth of euphoric Hip Hop excellence, MF DOOM represents the type of acclaimed artist who has the ability to succeed in the ever-swelling NFT atmosphere. Having inspired multiple generations of rappers from Joey Bada$$ to Playboi Carti, the weight of DOOM’s influence is still felt within the industry to this day — making the value of exclusive collectible items like NFT’s much higher.
DOOM supporters recently convened for an exclusive crypto auction in partnership with augmented reality NFT marketplace Illust Space and the late, great Rhymesayers Entertainment lyricist’s estate. Fans bid on “a select group of signed, limited edition, MF DOOM augmented reality NFT’s.”
DOOM’s transition into the afterlife to the uptick of an 870 percent spike in streams further underscores how NFT’s boost the artist experience by quintessentially immortalizing artists work within the developing blockchain network.
Blockchain is the public account ledger that NFT’s and other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin use to store information.
Since NFT’s are apart of the blockchain standard, they utilize digital contracts, known as smart contracts, to attribute rights to artwork, collectibles and other unique items. Long story short, this means NFT’s like DOOM’s signed augmented reality masks are forever cemented within one of the largest public forms in the world. While music like DOOM’s firmly exists on DSP’s like Spotify and Apple Music, NFT’s offer untapped possibilities we can now honor the life and body of work of musical icons in ways that allow their legacy to converge with new technology.