I was just casually logging into the Clubhouse app last night when I came upon a room with over 5,000 people in it. By far the largest room I've seen on the app and I think they pressed the CH limits of capacity. The room was called "CULTURE CURRENCY" and it featured a ton of big influencers in the entertainment & Crypto-currency world. Meek Mill, Chris Lyons, Pomp, Murda Beatz, Gary V, Grant Cardone, Mr. Beast, Tyler Winkelvoss, Novogratz, and many more were discussing... FUCKING CRYPTOART & BITCOIN!
Holy shit. My ears were glued to the program as I had been drawing in my sketchbook previously, I found all I could do was listen and exchange messages with friends about these celebs talking my bag. Our bag. Now, seemingly, everyone’s bag.
I wrote some notes as I listened to capture this historic event. I'm both excited for the space and a bit wary of the hype. After all, this is my baby I helped nurse from its infancy and I don't want to see it get exploited by cash grabs and mega corporations.
A little backstory before I go on. I got into cryptoart in 2014 by releasing the 18-track "SILK ROAD" album that delved into the world of the dark web and Bitcoin, and later the tokenization of trading cards using XCP and Bitcoin in 2016. I ran a podcast (along with Cynthia Gayton) from early 2017-Jan 2019 called "Art On The Blockchain." We struggled to find guests that first year because it was literally brand new. We were part of the pioneering artists making this thing happen. In 2018, shit started to click and a community was born. The scene shifted from Bitcoin to Ethereum and from blockscan and XCP to etherscan and ERC-20, then the official NFT protocol 721, 1155 and so on. I was part of the pioneering Rare Pepe Trading community where I drew mostly hip-hop frogs and traded and sold them to collectors. This frog platform, was the only cryptoart platform in existence for any artist to mint on. So, yea I drew fucking frogs, bro. They even made a movie about it and featured some of my work in it. I minted my GORILLA GLUE mixtape on the chain, I did some PROOF OF SHARE tokens and I made the first unlockable music token with the help of another pioneer- Joe Looney, the infamous DJPEPE. All of this happened in the span of a couple of years. Before the term, "cryptoart" or "NFT" even existed.
I was one of the first artists to mint on Superrare.co and I continue to put up works there today. I recently just minted the first of it's kind 1/1 AR-infused 7' vinyl record, paired with a 1/1 Audio -reactive NFT that features an unreleased song from Rome Streetz and beat by FARMABEATS called "RESIDUE." I did the art and animation and put the project together. It's on sale now.
Last night, as I logged into this superchat on Clubhouse one of the first things I heard was rapper Meek Mill asking someone about 1 of 1 album covers and videos! I felt both vindicated and anxious. Here was a group of people all brand new to the scene talking my bag! LOL. I mean damn, don't wash me out celebs. Seriously though, it felt good to hear a leader in the rap world finally tapping into what a few of us have been envisioning for years. The future is bright for rare digital releases, and it only is a matter of time before the big dawgs entered the space.
Roham from Axiom, who helped create NBA Topshot and Cryptokitties explained they were tokenizing "moments" and how 12 NBA moments had already commanded at least 5 figures. Mike Novagratz was talking about how he got outbid for a $100,000- plus Cryptokitty at a conference in 2017. That conference was Ethereal, and it was actually 2018. I was there. I actually won the second biggest auction that night by spending a Bitcoin on the Twitter "Fail Whale" print by Yiying Lu, that still hangs in my home today.
Jesse Walden, from Andreessen Horowitz, was discussing the Wu-Tang album and how it is a relatable, rare item that most people can grasp and it helps bridge the gap in explaining some of this stuff. I think Murda Beatz exclaimed around this time, "How do I sell beats on the blockchain!" Bruh, I almost fell out on the floor. Again, I've been in rappers' and producer's ears for 3 years, spitting this nerd shit, trying to get them to see the light. I've been putting my beats "on the blockchain" (nothing is really on the blockchain except some pixel art) since 2016 and really making some noise this year with the audio-reactive pieces that feature some of my productions. I literally had a zoom call last month with some of the most legendary producers and a few rappers where I pitched them cryptoart and NFTs! I cannot say who was in the room, but I was slightly nervous, many of them were my idols in beatmaking.
Moving on, Jesse was pitching his bag at Foundation, which seems to be a new NFT, music platform I hadn't heard about. Maybe I mis-heard though. An entertainment lawyer named Crystal Mais asked a good question to Jesse, "does this [NFT space] benefit bigger artists or indie artists more?" Jesse replied with a great answer, "works for smaller, indie artists best" and acts as "patronage" for them. I totally agree. Collectors and crypto enthusiasts in particular are interested in buying the floor and selling the top. But, if Beyonce or Kanye rolled out a 1/1 NFT that was dope then you can be sure we would probably see the first million dollar NFT. I say that with a straight face by the way. But, Jesse, was definitely spot on with his idea that patronage and aligning with artists early is the real benefit of these tokens. In my opinion, it creates income for up and comers without having to sacrifice themselves to a wack record contract. I've made around 5 figures this past year just off of my Bitcoin-centric album "Sound Money" NFTs, where the actual album, although celebrated in the Bitcoin community, was making peanuts on sales and streams.
During the conversation, again that was holding between 4800-5100 people tuning in, there was a lot of surface talk. Let me interject. People weren't really explaining that the token and metadata is the art and that the actual beat and art isn't really on a blockchain. I understand why. This is all new and to get people hooked you just launch the fireworks and don't explain how they're made or that they could blow their hand off. I am bullish on NFTs. But, I also know as a collector since I was trading sports cards at age 7, and records since I was 19, that the market can die just as quickly as it started. I want to caution people reading this or tuning into any of these CH chats (cryptoart chats are always popping up on the app) that we need to constantly elevate in this space. The amount of artists, musicians and creative content that exists far outweighs the collectors. I was lucky to be in the space early. Going forward, I think after this wave of big names that come on, it's going to be hard to cut through if us indie artists aren't out here cultivating new shit within the space. A meme card on rarible.com probably isn't going to sell for much if its not giving the collector value. That could look like a lot of things, but just tread lightly before quitting your graphic design job and changing your bio to "full time crypto artist." We can't all be the legendary beeple.
After a nice round of NFT and cryptoart talk, the conversation shifted more to the value of Bitcoin and to a lesser degree, Ethereum. Pomp, who runs the most popular mainstream Bitcoin-esque podcast and is a strong Bitcoin evangelist, said some good words, "focus on Ethereum and Bitcoin... they are head and shoulders above everything else" in the space. He went on to ask producer Murda Beatz, YouTube star Mr. Beast, and Meek Mill what interested them about the space. Murda Beatz answered with a "fun way of making money." Mr. Beast said he's held some crypto for a few years and called it risky, but he was certainly bullish on Bitcoin. Mr. Beast, who is my 11-year old's favorite YouTuber, and known for buying out stores and giving away homes, mentioned he will definitely being giving away some Bitcoin on some upcoming shows! Meek had the most thought- provoking reply saying that his and some of his associates prior felonies kept them out of certain investments. Crypto does't discriminate.
Isaiah Jackson, who wrote the book "Bitcoin & Black America" came in on that note and spread some gospel. He really gets Bitcoin and the value it has for his community, explaining how it empowers black people. He explained some terms like decentralized finance, the fiat system, scarcity and said "you are a traitor if you are here to cash out!" Powerful words from my guy. He had the room listening and deserved the floor. He and a guy named Lamar actually made a breakout room and there was some talk about how the speakers in the main chat were favoring people that didn't know a lot, and those people weren't speaking for the culture.
The Bitcoin maxmilists who were in the room also created a breakout room. They were making fun of NFTs and such. Diehard Bitcoiners generally make fun of everything that's not Bitcoin and live in a silo of HODL tacos and raw beef diets. I saw StopAndDecypt tweet out saying "Maybe this actually needs to be said but a digital @MeekMill collectible isn't going to change the world. Bitcoin will." I can't say I disagree with that either. Let's be honest, this art shit we do is dope. It's probably groundbreaking, but, it's mostly all a grand experiment and if you have time to make art and learn about crypto you probably are in a good place, generally speaking. Bitcoin, is a once in a century phenomenon, where the people are changing the money. But like the meme says, "Why don't we have both!"
Rounding out my time in the Currency Culture room, it went on long after I left, by the way, was my man Kevin from Rally.io pitching social currency, I hold no Rally token, but I do have a creator coin on the network called SCRLA that is doing very well this week. Meek and several others were very interested in this idea. Meek went on to call the CEO of Coinbase, Fred Ersham a nerd after Fred explained how when he started many years ago the Bitcoin space was filled with "a bunch of nerds on the internet." Fred was blown away, and the nerd comments came after he initially said, it was "remarkable to listen to the convo" after seeing how far the space had evolved. Folks from Lolli and Guapcoin made their presence known in the room as well.
The whole conversation was just an unbelievable moment for crypto-currency, and specifically for Bitcoin and NFTs. Over the past several weeks, I've taken part as a listener and speaker in 3-4 conversations a week about cryptoart on ClubHouse, and we generally get 50-200 people in the room, which is fairly large for such a niche topic. Having 5000 people and big industry folks in there was nuts for the space.
This Friday, at noon EST, Ryan Gill and myself are leading a room entitled, "Hip Hop & NFTs" that we actually put together yesterday morning. So, if anyone wants to continue the conversation, specific to the topic then please drop by. I've been advocating to folks for years in my industry about this and I feel the time to strike is ripe. I helped put out a record I did the art and co-produced the beat for, "Pyrex Picasso," featuring Benny The Butcher in October, that resides in the Museum Of Cryptoart, and was the first NFT with a major rapper to grace it. Let's get it.
Big shout out to everyone on the call, it really was a moment in blockchain art history. Looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.