Blockchain platform NEAR Protocol has launched a collection of NFTs of Hip Hop icons from the ‘70s to 2021. The new collection is in collaboration with the Universal Hip Hop Museum (UHHM) and The Source magazine co-Founder Ed Young.
The marketplace went live on June 19 to mark Juneteenth, a federal holiday in the U.S. marking the end of slavery. The auction will run for a total of 36 days. NFTs of 47 rappers, including Eazy-E and Lil Wayne, are part of the collection to honour 47 years of the hip-hop era.
“Since its beginnings, hip-hop grew from the grassroots,” Young told CoinDesk. “From hand-recording tapes one by one to sell to friends, to the block parties powered by electricity from street lamps, it was a collective creation of a culture and economy developed through the artist and fan working together.”
Amid the ongoing NFT craze, Young deems the collaboration with the platform as a means to “reconnect with rap’s peer-to-peer origins.”
More on NFTs of Hip Hop Icons
The collection, titled Hip Hop Heads, features artworks of celebrated hip-hop illustrator André LeRoy Davis. He is best known for his “Last Word” series featured in The Source Magazine.
Each edition of Hip Hop Heads corresponds to a year in hip hop history. For instance, edition one corresponds to the period from 1973 to 1974, edition two corresponds to 1974 to 1975, and so on till 2021. Every day, NEAR will release a new edition of the NFTs, till the auction ends on July 24.
Meanwhile, the first edition of each NFT is named in connection to the rapper’s place in the Hip Hop era. These will be donated to be put up on the gallery of the UHHM.
“Hip Hop Heads were featured in The Last Word because the artist was central to the musical, social, political, economic or lifestyle news of the moment and shaped the history of Hip Hop at a moment in time,” NEAR notes on its website. “…to be illustrated as a Hip Hop Head meant that you were, and would always be, Historic.”
According to NEAR spokesperson Agatha Szczepaniak, the marketplace comes with some of NEAR’s best features. This includes end-user accessibility and a means to easily mint NFTs in an inexpensive way. Additionally, it has “on-chain royalties that guarantee perpetual proceeds for creators.”
Those interested can place their bids on NFT.HipHop. In an effort to reach a mainstream audience, NEAR also allows purchases through credit cards.
The rise of music-themed NFTs
The growing popularity of NFTs has given rise to several music-themed NFTs. Recently, Maroon 5 unveiled its NFT collection. Meanwhile, in March, singer Grimes sold NFTs worth around $6 million.
According to Young, NFTs are a means for emerging artists to restore their financial agency. They achieve this by “eliminating the middlemen between musicians and their fans.”
However, currently, the NFT marketplace caters to bigger artists with a large following. Nonetheless, Young is confident that going forward, independent artists will benefit the most from NFTs.