Why and How Hip Hop Is Leveraging the Blockchain

Hip-hop, despite now being a multi-billion dollar industry, was “born” not too long ago in the 70s. This aspect demonstrates the unique pervasiveness of hip-hop as a culture in the way it has rapidly evolved from the grassroots and surpassed in popularity over other genres. The Internet is great for functioning as an easily accessible archive and artists, like Snoop Dogg, A$AP Rocky, and Jack Harlow, amongst others are adapting to leverage existing capital and influence to make their mark in the digital space. NFTs have created a new way to interact with fans as well as creating a new model for royalties and revenue streams, restoring financial agency to artists. Also, it’s just crazy fun.

The first drop of the Masterminds of Hip Hop NFT collection

What is the allure in collecting digital art?

If it has to be explained, then you just don’t have the collector’s bug. The idea of the collector is ubiquitous in many cultures from hip-hop to sneakers to vintage couture. You can look at digital art as a natural extension of collecting physical items, whether it’s vintage D&G jeans or a pair of SB dunks, or Pokemon cards. It’s about what it signifies and, in that, what it tells about a point in time in cultural history. Scarcity and hype also play a huge part in resale value (and I guess how well you can create the illusion of this exact allure). An entire skill and occupation lives off of this idea, from sneaker resellers to Depop users flipping $2 tees for $40 and so on. 

Both physical and digital collectibles share strong fan affinity and pride of ownership. Further, digital collectibles using blockchain technology possess benefits like the prevention of counterfeits, are literally space effective and are easier to share. NFTs from artists also typically come with exclusive benefits unique to the buyer from VIP access to a concert, access to never released artwork or music, rights to royalties, and more.

NFTs in Hip Hop so far

The NFT space is well-known for its volatile, high-risk high-reward nature: people have made thousands, and even millions, from reselling NFTs. Azealia Banks sold an audio sex tape for 10ETH ($17K) and the person who bought it resold it for 150,000ETH ($275M). Big-name artists from Nas to Quavo to B-Real of Cypress Hill have already seen profit from selling their own NFTs. And here you can read more about the Snoopverse.

Here, Soulja Boy sold this exact tweet for 0.07475ETH and sold four additional tweets, earning in total over $2K in just three hours.

Then, in honor of the late MF DOOM, augmented reality signed masks were sold for as much as $800K. 

Illust.Space marketplace is a curated gallery and uses a crypto wallet for buying, selling, and trading augmented reality art. One day after the close of the original beta auction, MF DOOM passed on Oct 31st, 2020, making it one of MF DOOM’s final collaborations. However, all of MF DOOM’s AR NFT collection will still be available for future collectors and traders with this new model for royalties and posthumous creative control legacies.


Commodified nostalgia with a modern twist

In Hip Hop, the commercialization of rap is what made it slowly lose its purity. Here are three projects involving legends or icons in Hip Hop that have that in mind.


Blockchain platform NEAR Protocol has partnered with the Universal Hip Hop Museum and Ed Young, co-founder of The Source magazine, to release a collection of NFTs featuring hip-hop artists from the 1970s to now. In a statement to CoinDesk, Young speaks on behalf of the pervasive nostalgia for simpler times specific to Hip Hop. He said,

From hand-recording tapes one by one to sell to friends, to the block parties powered by electricity from street lamps, it was a collective creation of a culture and economy developed through the artist and fan working together.

The site auctioned off 47 legendary hip-hop heads on Juneteenth 2021 to honor the 47th year of the Hip Hop era. Their “About” page says hip hop heads were featured if they were

Central to the musical, social, political, economic, or lifestyle news of the moment and shaped the history of Hip Hop at a moment in time – to be illustrated as a Hip Hop Head meant that you were, and would always be, Historic.

nft.hiphop homepage

There are several editions of each figure available with each edition corresponding to a specific year in the hip-hop industry and is an independent NFT with their own bids.

Masterminds of Hip Hop

A collab between hip-hop music moguls Russell Simmons and Snoop Dogg, the Masterminds of Hip Hop collection celebrates the original pioneers of Hip Hop music. First launched on August 14, 2021, on Tokau, an NFT sales platform, the collection featured exclusive recordings and artwork from Chuck D of Public Enemy to Doug E. Fresh to Grandmaster Caz. Simmons says the goal is to highlight and credit the founding fathers of Hip Hop, the era of the pre-commercialization of rap when it was just performance art. Simmons said,

Many rappers and DJs who pioneered hip hop never received accolades or financial benefits that should have come from their work.

mastermindsofhiphop.com homepage

Flash Mints Collections

Made to empower photographers, Flash Mints aims to preserve hip-hop history through NFT collections of iconic work from well-known photographers, like the late Chi Modu.


Moses, the visionary behind the collection, told AfroTech

I think that we’re still learning so much more about the history of Hip-Hop because it’s so new…I think that these images are preserving this history that we’re all even discovering how much it means to us.

The first collection paid homage to Hip Hop icons from Grandmaster Flash to Biggie to The Fugees. Flash Mints empowers photographers by allowing them to claim financial agency as well as functions as a new way to create interactive artwork. Photographs in Hip Hop culture are powerful in that they have preserved many iconic moments and figures. You can stay up to date with upcoming releases here.

  1. An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I do think that you need to write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo matter but typically folks don’t discuss these subjects. To the next! All the best!!

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