Crypto Catches Hip Hop’s Flow

At the heart of both the births of crypto and hip hop are the economic aspirations of groups of people at the fringes of society. This weekend is the official half-century commemoration of a music genre that sparked a pop culture explosion. Today, hip hop is estimated to be a $8 billion market.

Many Gen Xers who were witness to rap’s inception have been captivated by the prospect of building an open, decentralized financial system since the first Bitcoin
was mined in 2009.

Both Are Remixes

Crypto industry leader Deidra McIntyre created the Black People & Cryptocurrency Facebook group in September 2017, which has more than 10K members. She mused, “Both are remixes. Hip hop music took funk, soul, disco, jazz, reggae, go-go, rock, and many other pre-existing musical genres, then remixed them to create something new by layering rhymed spoken word over looped portions of the favored parts of pre-existing songs. Technologists did the same with the birth of Bitcoin. They merged pre-existing principles of decentralization, cryptography, and blockchain to create functional digital money produced by globally dispersed computers – not a single government or corporation.”

Nipsey Brought Crypto To Hip Hop Consciousness

The late Nipsey Hussle, who started investing in Bitcoin in 2013, remarked in a XXL Magazine interview that he brought crypto to the hip hop consciousness. “If you can understand supply and demand, if you can understand throwing out free music and monetizing via the tour, you can understand cryptocurrency.”

McIntyre, who is curating this year’s Black Blockchain Summit at Howard University next month, also shared with me, “Just as hip hop also birthed new dances, art, fashion, and speech, Bitcoin birthed a new vocabulary, alternative coins, NFTs, as well as, Web3, and metaverse environments that can facilitate transactions.”

Their perspectives form a symbiotic picture of hip hop and crypto’s catalytic echoes. And there are unmistakable imprints linking the disruptive industries.

Crypto Meets Hip Hop Retrospective

Looking back, there have been interesting milestones entwining crypto and hip hop. The movie Dope, directed by Rick Famuyiwa in 2015, is among the earliest crossover pop culture phenoms fusing the two ecosystems.

Yet, some of the more sensational moments occurred five years ago, after Bitcoin hit almost $20K in December 2017. Rapper Akon went all in, launching Akion and announcing plans to create a crypto city in Senegal in 2018. And Soulja Boy released his hit song, “Bitcoin.”

That same year an urban legend about rapper 50 Cent went viral because of a TMZ story that alleged he received partial payment in Bitcoin for his Animal Ambition album. As with most urban legends, it turned out to be a juicy rumor that some still spread.

Perhaps the most titillating fusion came in 2019 when Lil Nas X‘s song, “Old Town Road,” was spoofed by YouTuber Lil Bubble whose version was a parody about the financial highs and lows of crypto hodlers. The rendition soared to the moon.

This interplay has not been without controversy. The “Message” by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five still reigns true, it’s like a jungle sometimes! But this union is still in its infancy.

Today, rap and hip hop icons, like Pitbull, Megan Thee Stallion, and JayZ, enthusiastically rep crypto. No doubt when crypto marks its semicentennial, lyricists will reminisce about how hip hop peppered its origin story.

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