Lupe Fiasco has launched an NFT hustle, offering fans a chance to get in early, and even released a known favorite, “Hustlaz” to tease what he has in store. Followers are polarized, some saying Fiasco’s pushing a “scam.”
Lupe’s Announces NFT Scheme
Lupe Fiasco was ahead of the crypto curve, announcing early in 2021 a new venture that would offer exclusive benefits to fans who brought into his new NFT platform. The semi-retired rapper has begun the rollout of the platform, but fans are pushing back and calling it a scam.
Lupe’s new platform, called Lupe Fungible Tokens, is being touted by the rapper with benefits, including the ability to participate in the meta-narrative surrounding the album, access to the teaser and behind-the-scenes content as well as exclusive invites to a private listening party that’s slated for the first half of 2022. Lupe announced that his Discord server for the platform is officially opened, informing fans who joined that there would be something special if they joined from February 5th – 8th.
Within Lupe’s fanbase, there was an immediate polarized reception to the announcement. While there were many who were excited about this advancement with Lupe’s career, there were just as many fans who were upset and vexed by this decision, stating that Lupe is enrolling ignorant fans in an NFT scam that benefits the rich who can wager disposable income on the backs of those who cannot afford to lose money and may not understand the complexities of the NFT business model. The criticism is built on the pyramid-scheme-like structure of the NFT model whereby the only way to make money is to get more and more people to invest in an NFT product, thereby artificially inflating its value.
On his social media, the polarization between Lupe’s supporters and dissenters is evident. Observant fans on Twitter are saying criticism is being censored while bots are being deployed to provide fake support for the NFT scheme.
Kanye West, NFTs, and Permanent-ability of NFT Media
With the constant talk of NFTs and many Hip-hop artists joining the NFT and crypto space, there is one notable artist who has not joined the crowd: Kanye West. Kanye has stated, “My focus is on building real products in the real world. Real food. Real clothes. Real shelter. Do not ask me to do a f***ing NFT.”
The fact that Kanye specifically mentions that he wants to build “real products in the world,” calls into question the status of media that is hosted in the form of NFTs. With the push for more media beyond the Bored Apes to join the NFT space, such as music, games, books, etc., the question arises, – When media is hosted on the blockchain, is it really your media?
Any form of media that is on a blockchain, is only there as long as that blockchain is up. If anything happens to that blockchain resulting in it being taken down permanently or temporarily, an “owner” no longer has access to that media or the blockchain.
Owning an NFT on the blockchain is similar to how we “own” music on Spotify or movies on Netflix – a subscriber only has access to Netflix as long as they continue paying for that access and the Netflix licensing rights and technology servers are viable. A gamer owns NBA 2K21 purchased from the Playstation Store as long as Playstation servers are up and do not decide to remove the game from their online store. If the servers are down permanently or the game is removed, the game is no longer accessible in the game library – regardless of whether you paid the $60 dollars purchase price.
With what Kanye calls “real” media, there can be no tenuous, hostile, antagonistic relationship between buyer and corporate entity when it comes to ownership of the media. If a person buys physical copies of NBA 2k16, a movie, or anything else, that product forevermore belongs to the buyer.
Watching the constant progression of streaming services and the like on the rise, as well as the constant battle of what it means to truly “own” a digital product, the question remains: Are NFTs and cryptos spaces the right choice for the Hip-Hop community?