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Opinion – Eminem and Snoop Dogg shouldn’t be shilling NFTs

Both Eminem and Snoop Dogg performed at the MTV Annual Video Music Awards almost entirely using Bored Ape NFTs. It’s depressing to see two iconic artists so insistent on shilling unwanted crypto junk to the public.

Earlier this year, Eminem released a single with Snoop Dogg titled ‘From The D 2 The LBC’ after a feud in 2020 saw them take shots at one another despite being on the same label.

The track features Bored Ape NFTs on the single’s artwork cover, in the music video, and as part of a limited edition crypto currency drop. If all that wasn’t enough, the recent MTV VMA live performance was done almost entirely in the Metaverse, using each artist’s Bored Ape avatar in replacement of their actual, physical selves.

Early this year, Eminem purchased a Bored Ape for $460,000 USD, making him part of an exclusive, lucrative club only for the very wealthy. His and Snoop’s VMA performance was a primarily an advertisement to generate interest in NFTs, detracting significantly from any artistic merit the song may have had.

Having two multimillionaire hip-hop icons use their industry clout to sell overpriced, environmentally damaging, artistically bankrupt Bored Ape NFTs is disappointing, especially considering the problems they’ve caused for creatives in the last year.

We’ve seen countless examples of stolen art thanks to NFTs. The Guardian reported that the industry was a ‘huge mess of theft and fraud’ in January, with bots and false accounts routinely producing minted copies of original artwork without creator permission.

Fan response to the VMA performance, meanwhile, was mixed. Considering how loyal and feverish of a following Eminem has (the man literally created ‘stan’ culture), a lack of unanimous praise should be telling enough.


Why are NFTs so widely hated by normal people?

NFTs get a bad rep across the internet and popular culture for good reason.

You may have seen memes and YouTube videos commenting on the ‘crypto bro’ culture that has emerged online in the last few years. As cryptocurrency grows in popularity and value, and as short-form content continues to overtake written word and long-form video, creators are incentivised to offer ‘financial advice’ and hype up the release of new NFT collections via TikTok.

Many of these drops are intended to appeal to an audience of enthusiastic young men hoping to earn big bucks through buying and trading NFTs. The results are often painfully cringe. One, for example, is the overly-sexualised ‘Meta Girlfriend’ collection. Yes, really.

As previously mentioned, art theft is also a huge problem. NFTs were originally intended to offer artists a way of preserving and authenticating their work while also being paid properly, but this ideal has long been abandoned.

Anil Dash from The Atlantic developed a very similar blockchain system to NFTs way back in 2014. His assessment of the market today acknowledges the exploitation of rich tech opportunists and money-hungry celebrities that has skewed the point of it all.

‘Our dream of empowering artists hasn’t yet come true, but it has yielded a lot of commercially exploitable hype.’

This artificial ‘hype’ can be seen in Eminem and Snoop Dogg’s attempt to make NFTs and Bored Ape avatars a mainstream normality, an effort that is nearly entirely motivated by profit. What’s so wholly depressing about the shameless NFT plugging is that it erodes the actual artistic legacies and legitimacy of both rappers.

They’ve traded in public favour for, as Dash describes, a rich people ‘plaything’.

Worse, it is almost completely alienating for the average consumer who can’t afford or understand the NFT blockchain market. What is the point of this stunt other than to superficially inflate the cultural relevance and value of a few wildly expensive digital avatars?


What is likely to happen moving forward?

Interestingly, NFTs and crypto have seen a significant decline in value recently as the market falls from its 2021 peak.

This would suggest that artists and celebrities may be moving away from NFTs though this is unlikely to be the case, at least as far as Eminem and Snoop Dogg are concerned. Expect more, unfortunately, and continual ‘limited edition’ mints and other merchandise flogging in the coming months.

Crypto is here to stay, too. With Facebook pumping billions into the Metaverse and creating meme-worthy content, it’s safe to say that the tech industry is backing the supposed potential of digital authentication, blockchain, and virtual reality innovations.

To be clear, these technologies are not inherently a bad thing. The original motivation behind NFTs was not malicious. It is the inevitable wave of Gary Vees, crypto bros, pseudo TikTok finance advisors, and famous rappers that will twist the market into something that only benefits those with money to burn.

Other industries are fully leaning into minting assets for profit. Ubisoft is already well underway developing its NFT store known as ‘Quartz’, which will implement digitally authenticated items into games – despite community backlash.

 

So, the bottom line is clear. NFTs aren’t going anywhere. For now, all I can hope is that this Bored Ape music video is a one-off novelty and not an indication as to where the industry is headed with live performances. Fans don’t like it, the public in general doesn’t like it, and for most of us it is hugely off-putting.

The sooner we ditch these exploitative NFT schemes, the better.

 

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