Wayne Barrow released a 3,000-piece NFT collection on Tuesday afternoon, first to a list of dedicated fans and then to the general public. The collection uses algorithms to bring back the late icon’s signature looks. The Notorious NFT is based on the idea that the best way to keep an artist alive is to keep them in your digital wallet, not in your heart.
For those who support it, this is a chance to show what Biggie was all about in a way that even the most raw bootleg can’t. However, as with so many things on the web3, not everyone will see the upside.
Wayne Barrow, a longtime friend of the rapper who now helps manage his estate, said, “This is a chance to give fans a piece of his legacy instead of just pushing the legacy on them.” “Web3 is great because you can take part instead of just buying what someone else is selling.”
Barrow said that the big deal of the drop isn’t even the digital art. It’s membership in a collective that will give people the power to decide what happens to the “Fulton Street Freestyle.” This is a famous viral video of 17-year-old Christopher Wallace making up lyrics on a Brooklyn street corner while crowds cheered.
The show has never been licensed to anyone else. But the 3,000 people who own NFT will get to decide if anyone who pays to use it as a sample or in other works that are based on it can do so. Members might even make money from this sale, but the details haven’t been worked out yet.
The drop is called “Sky’s the Limit,” which is a reference to Biggie Smalls’s posthumous 1997 hit about dreaming big. It’s also a subtle nod to how far technology has come since the song’s time, when he was the only person with a cell phone.
Biggie died 25 years ago. He was shot after a party for people in the music business in Los Angeles. This was because of a feud with Tupac Shakur, who had been killed months before. The after-death party and market economy started almost right away, with the release of “Life After Death” going diamond (10 million copies).
Since then, it hasn’t slowed down much. A few years ago, that famous crown sold for a record $600,000, which gave it a boost. This year, when Biggie would have turned 50, the Empire State Building was lit up in his colors, and Combs’ record label put out a deluxe box set of “Life After Death.”
But nothing gets people to buy like a web3 commercial. Barrow, businessman Elliot Osagie, and Biggie’s mother, Voletta Wallace, recently got together with OneOf, an NFT company co-founded by Quincy Jones that has already auctioned off an NFT of an unreleased Whitney Houston demo track.
OneOf took a number of Biggie’s well-known looks and changed them to fit the NFT. It is a “generative drop,” which means that an AI takes a few templates and makes small changes to them to make new images. For example, it might change the color of the background. The organizers worked with the animation company Seriously Fun, so there is no artist in the traditional sense.
To figure out who gets to go first, fans who showed how much they cared made a “allow list” for the two-hour presale. Backers say they didn’t want too many speculators who would drive up the price in the future, but they admit that this is almost certain to happen (and perhaps desirable).
Biggie was known for his laid-back, deep-voiced rapping style, in which he talked about his struggles, praised his goals, and celebrated his successes (and excesses). His music said things about class, crime, wealth, death, and other things that had never been said in rap before. This is one reason why the Source and many others called him the best rapper of all time.
Even simple pictures, like one of Biggie holding a bag of cash, say something about his music, say the organizers.
The creative director of OneOf, Christopher Sealey, said, “Everything has a story, and it’s not always the story people understand.” “We have one of Biggie holding a bag of cash. We included it not because he was talking about money, but because if you talk to his neighbors even now, they’ll all say how generous he was in the community.”
Voletta Wallace said that the NFT was a way to “honor my son Christopher.” It will give fans “a chance to show how much they love him and his music,” she said in a previous statement.
The Whitney Houston demo that OneOf made was sold to a single buyer for almost $1 million. Grimes also sold a collection for almost $6 million, but the value of that collection went down afterward. At $100 each, this will bring in $300,000, which is less money and maybe less trouble.
Not every musician NFT gets off the ground right away. Just 3% of the singer Chris Brown’s new album sold in the first week after it came out last month. But on Tuesday night, Sealey said that the amount of Biggie’s NFT that was available to the public sold out in 10 minutes.
The NFT release is related to a project called “the Brook,” which is a Biggie “metaverse” where people can take on avatars and move around a world made up by his songs. It might seem like the future or a new way for people to tell stories together, or it might seem like too much brand promotion that takes away from what made so many people fall in love with an artist in the first place.
At least, those in charge say it’s a perfect fit for the rapper.
Barrow said, “When I think of Biggie, I picture a man sitting in his house and looking out the window, giving you a view of what he saw.” “He brought you into the story by putting himself in it. He also brought you into the story. So Biggie thought that the metaverse was already there.”
But what about the bubble of speculation that comes with NFTs? Is this a unique tribute? Or just a way to make more money with a lot of code?
Sealey said that the Biggie drop shows a way forward and stays true to the roots of hip-hop. “The whole point of hip-hop is to mix different parts of culture,” he said. “We’re letting fans decide how the most famous freestyle of all time should be made.”
He said that tech tools like digital watermarking, AI art, and the blockchain’s central idea can be used to do much more than re-release albums. They can be used to remake an artist’s work in the present tense.
Sealey said, “This isn’t a drop after my death.” “It makes everything happen right now.”