On March 7, Soulja Boy asked his 5.2 million followers on Twitter, “How do I sell my tweets?” The tweet ended up garnering more than a thousand likes and 200 retweets, but social engagement wasn’t the only thing he received. Soulja Boy ended up selling that exact tweet on a digital marketplace V for $1,288.00. Then he auctioned four more of his tweets, earning a total of $2,084.71 in just three hours. Soulja’s auctioned tweets are examples of the digital collectibles known as NFTs, and over the past few months, they’ve become a lucrative business opportunity for the music industry.
NFTs are short for “non-fungible tokens,” which is a fancy way of saying they’re digital certificates of authenticity that allow for intangible collectibles like tweets or digital art to be sold and traded. Although virtual items can be copied and distributed instantly these days, NFTs give buyers ownership of whatever digital items they purchase, creating a sense of exclusivity. So, while there may be other digital copies of that item in existence, the NFT or token obtained with the purchase is one-of-a-kind. The person who bought Soulja Boys’ tweet NFT, for example, becomes the sole “owner” of it, and they can sell it for a profit if the value goes up over time.
NFTs rely on a technology called blockchain, which is the basis of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies. The blockchain is a protected ledger that allows NFT buyers to see a short list of its previous owners. There is a growing network of NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea, Zora, Fyooz, Flipkick, and more.
NFTs have made their way into the music industry, and artists are figuring out creative ways to make money on the technology. Last year, electronic producer Deadmau5 auctioned “RAREZ” NFT collectible packs, which contained animated stickers and virtual trading cards for $100,000. In February 2021, Grimes sold nearly $6 million worth of tokens for 10 pieces of her digital artwork. And throughout the first few months of 2021, we’ve seen a rise in NFTs being sold by rappers. Stars like Lil Baby, 2 Chainz, Soulja Boy, Snoop Dogg, and more have announced their first NFT collections, which include augmented reality memorabilia and other virtual collectibles.
As rappers figure out new ways to use the technology, we expect to see even more examples of NFTs in rap. As of early April 2021, here are the wildest and most interesting NFTs in rap right now.