One of the things the COVID-19 pandemic forced many to do is find other ways to get paid. While some artists may have spent those stimulus checks getting their art or recording studios right, others figured out a way to succeed in tech. NFTs have become a wildly popular way for social media influencers or meme creators to cash in on their creations, and Ted Lucas, the founder and CEO of legendary Miami imprint Slip-N-Slide Records—aka the label that helped kick start the careers of Trick Daddy, Trina, and Rick Ross—is getting into the game today with Crypto.com’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time NFT drop.
Back in the early internet days (roughly twenty years ago), an emoticon featuring a dancing banana was thrown over a Miami anthem, “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” by the Buckwheat Boyz, and the result was one of the early examples of internet virality. The Flash animation spread like wildfire across forums and sites that would help people remix and put their own spin on the meme. It also went mainstream, appearing in everything from episodes of The Family Guy and The Proud Family to being referenced by WWE Divas, being used by the Miami Heat and appearing in t-shirts in Hot Topic. “I license this record probably three times a year,” says Lucas. Now, the meme will be a part of the growing NFT craze.
Today (July 27, 2021), the Peanut Butter Jelly Time NFT is going up for auction. It comes with some “remixes” from Miami graf legend Atomik, who brings some 305 flair to this amazing NFT. Ahead of the auction, Complex got to speak with Ted Lucas about the history of the Peanut Butter Jelly Time meme, the ideation behind this NFT, and Lucas’ push for the youth to dive deeper into the field of technology.
When I was reading about the “Peanut Butter Jelly Time NFT,” it made me realize how long it’s been since that went viral. How soon did you know that the single had turned into something different on the internet?
When I started getting all these dancing bananas from everybody, I’m like, “What in the world, this song turned into a dancing banana, and now everybody’s using it.” Then I get a call from people wanting to license the record, like, “What? This is crazy.” I tell everybody this record is one of those records every year, still today, that still get licensed on a regular basis.
Can you give me a rough idea of how many different times it’s been licensed over the last 20-plus years?
I license this record probably three times a year. It can range from TV commercials to scenes in movies, to the Miami Heat using it when they won the championship a couple of years ago. You will be shocked, man. It’s shocking to me to see something that was a Florida anthem to some people down here; it was big. And the kids nowadays still dance to the record like it just came out yesterday.
When did the idea of creating the Peanut Butter Jelly Time NFT first come about?
During the pandemic, when you first started hearing about NFTs, we wanted to figure out what song that’s a meme that will connect to this and bring music and art together. And that dancing banana has been one of those memes that’s been catchy for years and we just thought about it, man. Now we put our heads together as a team. I think one of the [Peanut Butter Jelly Time meme] videos got over 300 million views, it’s crazy. Just a dancing banana and people reading the lyrics to the song. I can say, over the pandemic.
I was looking at the numbers that some of the other classic internet memes sold for as NFTs. I don’t want to get in anybody’s pockets, but has anybody been talking predictions of how much somebody might be paying for this?
Hey, I’m going to tell you this man. I got my grandma praying. I got everybody praying, man. I hope that it benefits the team and everybody involved, we’ve been blessed. The artists that helped create this. The producer that helped create it, everybody was involved just to be able to let them reap some of the benefits in 2021, almost 21 years later. So let them reap the benefit of it.
Now the NFT is more than just a banana and the song. You’ve got a couple of remixes with some Miami flavor to them. Talk about wanting to expand on the idea of the NFT.
Atomik is one of the best graffiti artists here in South Florida, [and] I thought it’d be nothing but legendary to get a graffiti artist to put with this song that represents Miami to the fullest. We were able to get in touch with Atomik, who has this orange. When you come to South Florida, all throughout Wynwood, all over South Beach, he’s been a legend. And even down to the orange dropping on New Year’s here in South Florida, he was the guy that started that whole image of that orange. I thought there would be nobody better than to get him as an artist to join a song that really represents Miami and give you a taste and a feel of what 305 is all about.
Are you thinking about other NFTs for Slip-N-Slide?
I’m glad you asked this question. I want to open this door, man. I’m honored to be in business with Crypto.com to do this. I think they select people who they pick to be in business with. I want to be able to partner with people that have something special. I’m definitely open to looking at different partnerships and things that just make sense. I ain’t just doing anybody, but if it’s something special, that’s going to make an impact and move the culture to a whole nother level and help people get into the NFT world. That’s what we’re here to do. [Ed note: Ted tells Complex that anyone interested in submitting NFT ideas to Slip-N-Slide can email his assistant at email@example.com.]
Talk about what’s next for Slip-N-Slide the imprint.
We just released a single by my artists F$O Dinero and Mike Smiff, who had an incredible performance at Rolling Loud and had an incredible performance. They have a new song called “Dade and Broward.” I’m excited about them. In Miami, you got Dade county and Broward county. I took kids from Fort Lauderdale, Miami, put them together on one song and continue to help and bring opportunity to artists here in South Florida that I feel are capable of going to the next level. We continue to do that. Got a great record out called “Exit” with Sebastian Mikael, who’s on Atlantic Records as well, I’m excited about him. A female artist by the name of Teenear, we just finished doing a great record with her and K-Camp, I’m excited about that.
Listen, for me, I come from where talent was unbelievable. You could sing crazy or you had lyrics that made me say, “Back that up, play that again.” I still stand firm on that. I’ll try to find artists—not just because you got a big social media following or, just because you did something that went viral. I’m not looking for the TikTok artist, that’s not what I specialize in. I just like to give talent the opportunity to get on the platform and do what they got to do with it. Hopefully, everybody can see the same talent that I see. If I believe in it and my staff and my team believe in it, we’re going to push it.
With Florida being a hotbed in the industry right now, and with everything that has gone down in Florida between different rappers and crews, I know you can’t always just get people on record. Was it important for you to get Dinero and Smiff on that record together?
Yes, it was. For me, I want people to know that we definitely going to represent the state of Florida to the fullest, but to get somebody out of Broward County to let those kids in Broward County know that we’re here and we’re looking for that talent in Broward County, and then to get a kid out of Dade County, that’s big to have.
To me, I feel it’s important to let these kids see and hear somebody from their neighborhood, from their county, from their city representing theirs and some others from another county to come together. I think that we need to do that and continue to let people see that. That was important to us. I think the song came out incredible and is getting great reviews, people calling, doing things with artists. I’m excited about it.
You touched on doing things for the community. Talk about the Ted Lucas Foundation and the non-music work you’ve been doing.
For me, in the last year, Miami has become the tech capital, thanks to our Mayor Suarez and what he’s doing here and bringing all these tech companies to South Florida. I tell everybody: For me, growing up, it was two things that we really looked up to. It was the football player, basketball player, baseball player, whatever may be. And then it might’ve been your local drug dealers, right? Now we’ve got opportunities that these kids can be into technology. You can’t just got to put all your eggs in one basket; if sports don’t work, you go resort the crime, because that’s what your friends might be doing. I want to be able to put technology in our school system as early as elementary school.
That’s something that I’m working on down here in South Florida, to give our kids the same opportunities in other counties of the city that might have those opportunities. Kids can figure out a phone better than me or you, so they are really on top of technology. We just got to open their eyes up and let them be able to see that it’s more to it, let them see, “Now I can do this.” We’re working here in South Florida on putting technology in our elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools. In ninth grade I want these kids to be able to intern at some of these major companies that came in town. SoftBank and all the different companies that came in.
We’re talking a lot about an NFT, mentioning virality, meme culture; has tech always been a big thing for you?
No, it hasn’t. What’s been a big thing for me is moving the culture. When we first started with music, it was Luke doing music. Wasn’t nobody doing music, right? I’m saying, “Man, if Luther Campbell and 2 Live Crew can do music, there’s more people here in South Florida that can do music.” By the grace of God, I was able to go out and help people like Trick Daddy and Trina and Rick Ross get their music careers off the ground. So tell me, what’s the difference in technology? If you can help an artist that has the talent and music to do it, you can identify those same people in technology.
So here in 2021, I’m just trying to keep pushing and keep opening doors for people in my community. That they’d have that opportunity and it’s something that’s exciting to me. Listen, a kid can really change his whole family life by getting that opportunity to do something in technology. He might build the next startup company that we’re able to invest in. I want to open that door and give them that opportunity to do it and find investors here. We got an angel investor group that we’re putting together with some athletes, some entertainment that we’re going to invest back in our community.
What do you do to take your mind off of everything and just relax?
I don’t like relaxing. I ain’t going to lie to you man. I don’t. The weekends really bother me, them two days seem like they are longer than the five days during the week. Sports [are] coming back, so I might be able to chill, but right now? Those two days of not working and everything, I’d be calling people, they’re like, “Ted can’t you relax?” No, I don’t want to relax. I got good health and strength. I want to work my butt off to leave an inheritance to my children’s children’s children, man. I got the health and strength, I’m going to get it every day I wake up. I’m going to make something happen.