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About the author: Alexander Fruchter, aka DJ RTC, is the co-founder of Chicago-based record label Closed Sessions. During the blog era, he ran the influential music and culture blog rubyhornet.com

The start of Mig Mora’s rap career sounds like that of a typical artist who emerged during the late 2000s and early 2010s. Faced with a crumbling music business model reliant on physical distribution, and a new model built on a digital distribution system not quite established, Mora, like so many of his peers, released music for free through blogs, file-sharing sites, and the almighty SoundCloud. There wasn’t much money to be made, but there was an active community of bloggers, artists, and fans, and Mora was keen on that. On December 12, 2012, Mora released his first solo album, Music For The End of The World. It premiered on rubyhornet.com—a fact he actually reminded me about.
 
The project got some props in the local Chicago scene, which was paired with the growth of his fledgling streetwear brand, City of Win. The brand released a compilation mixtape of its own as a lead-up to Mora’s solo debut. The compilation, W1n Vol. 1, featured Chicago and blog era favorites such as YP, Scheme, Really Doe, BBU, and hometown hero Sharkula. While from afar it may have seemed like things were on the up and up, the drain of releasing music for free and operating beyond his core competencies on a streetwear brand left Mora, a law school graduate, feeling like he was hustling backwards.

Like many of his peers, Mora got a job, got good at it, moved to Brooklyn, and figured his music career was over. That was until he purchased CryptoPunk 5528, now known as the world’s best (and only) CryptoPunk rapper, Spottie WiFi. Through NFTs, Mora found new inspiration, a second chance at a music career, an exciting community, and for the first time ever, he made significant money off his music.
 
Mora grew up in Rockford, IL, a blue-collar factory town just far enough not to be a suburb of Chicago. He started writing raps in high school, continued in college, and upon graduating, Mora moved to Chicago and entered law school at Loyola University. He linked up with two hometown friends—producer Stefan Clark and emcee Hollywood—and the trio called themselves The Bridge. As Mora says, “I was running around rapping when I was supposed to be studying.”
 
The Bridge had a good run for an underground indie act. They opened for touring artists like Talib Kweli, Nas, Snoop and T.I., but like many groups that start to gain traction, egos and the pressure got in the way. Following The Bridge, Mora joined a cover band and performed at large venues across the Midwest and at music festivals. The band started writing original songs and Mora did enough to garner a publishing deal. It turned out to be a terrible one, locking him down for multiple major label placements. “I thought this is how you sign a record deal, you sign a publishing deal first,” he admits. “Of course, the record deal never happened. That band fell apart.”
 
After the cover band, Mora brushed himself off for the aforementioned solo album, Music For The End of The World. The album was a conceptual project that mixed science fiction and politics and took a somewhat comedic approach towards impending doom. “That was a big moment for me,” he says with an exhale. “The album was well reviewed. I got some love from Rubyhornet. I got some love from [Vocalo Radio] and NPR. And then, I think I was just sort of exhausted. I said so much on that album,” he recounts. “After that, I sort of had writer’s block for a decade. I did write a little bit, but it just never turned into anything. Basically, nine years went by and I hadn’t really made anything. And then I was inspired by this world of NFTs.”
 
If you haven’t been following along, cryptocurrency has been having a banner year after a bad crash in 2017 and a slow rebuild with plenty of detractors. The crypto landscape has expanded far beyond Bitcoin, and the blockchain is being used for more than just digital currency. People create, bid on, purchase, sell, and trade pretty much anything that can be traded. Digital basketball cards, digital artwork, and digital music sales are growing in NFT (non-fungible token) form and beginning to break through to the mainstream. It was just announced that Nas, Katy Perry, and Jason Derulo were amongst the investors in Audius, a blockchain streaming service.

Mora was an early adopter of cryptocurrency, and went through the highs and the lows without selling or giving up on what he believes is the future of currency, and now, music distribution. When he contacted me out of the blue in late August to tell me about his new path as Spottie WiFi, the NFT music community that was supporting him, and the further possibilities, it all made sense. When I spoke to him again in the early evening hours of September 5, his excitement for this new world became even more clear.
 
“It’s hard for me to overstate how cool this is in the world of NFTs,” Mig Mora tells me from his current home, just outside Miami, Florida. “My voice might be in and out because I’ve been yelling all day.”
 
Mora had just been booked for a performance—well, Spottie had been booked for a performance. The booker was the Bored Ape Yacht Club, a collection of 10,000 NFT ape characters that hang out at a digital Swampland Yacht Club and throw parties on their virtual riverboat casino. The Apes burst onto the NFT art scene in April of 2021, offering collectors the chance to own a minted Ape NFT as well as any associated IP rights. In doing so, Bored Ape Yacht Club instantly created brand ambassadors and franchisees. One collector launched Bored Ape Streetwear, and another created a Bored Ape IPA at his brewery. On September 9, the Bored Ape Yacht Club ended a Sotheby’s Auction featuring just over 100 Bored Ape NFTs. The Auction closed at around $24M, hence the reason for their party at the BAYC Riverboat Casino.
 
Mora is a proud member of the Bored Ape community, as well as others such as the Gutter Cat Gang, and of course, the CryptoPunks. According to Mora, Spottie WiFi went from CryptoPunk president to CryptoPunk king in a matter of months. Spottie, named so because of his spots, is part Puff Daddy and part crypto evangelist. It’s the attitude of the Shiny Suit Era of rap that Mora grew up on in Rockford, mixed with a nerdist enthusiasm for this new digital world. “I loved the shiny suits, I loved Puff Daddy spitting champagne in the camera. There was a rock star vibe that I related to more than other genres.”
 
On August 18, Mig and his producer Stefan Clark released a seven-song album. Limited to 2,000 copies, each EP purchase came with a mystery mint NFT. The purchaser also instantly obtained sync rights to the NFT’s master recording, allowing them to use their song in a commercial, film, or television show, and keep the profits. Each NFT holder will also get a vinyl copy of the album. Mora explains exactly what he did in the interview below, but the punchline is that the project sold out in under 60 seconds, and netted Mora over $190,000. Not too bad for an artist who gave up on music almost a decade ago.

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