Hip Hop Star Ja Rule Discusses the Growing NFT Space and Crypto — ‘I Like the Fact That Bitcoin Is Decentralized’
The non-fungible token (NFT) industry has exploded in 2021 as millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies continue to be traded for these blockchain collectibles every single day. This week, Bitcoin.com News chatted with the popular American rapper Ja Rule about NFTs as he has partnered with James Cropcho and Robert Testagrossa to build a marketplace called flipkick.io.
Ja Rule Speaks About NFTs and Bitcoin, Fyre Festival, and the NFT Marketplace Flipkick.io
Yesterday, Bitcoin.com News spoke with recording artist Ja Rule, who is well known for his chart-topping albums and songs like the number 1 hit “Always on Time” (featuring Ashanti) in 2002. The musician is now involved with non-fungible tokens and helped form a unique NFT marketplace with serial entrepreneur Robert Testagrossa and engineer James Cropcho. Flipkick.io is a full-service NFT marketplace that caters to artists, celebrities, and creators who want to monetize their work with physical NFTs.
I’ve been off my NFT’s for couple days what I miss???
— Ja Rule (@jarule) September 10, 2021
Ja Rule told our publication that’s a big difference when he discussed his fascination for NFTs and how Flipkick.io offers its NFT experience. In addition to the NFT space, Ja Rule delved into other subjects such as cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum.
Moreover, a couple of hosted NFT artworks listed on Flipkick.io were tied to the infamous Fyre Festival theme and Ja Rule spoke candidly about the subject. While the Fyre Festival was a fiasco he said, there was a “silver lining” in the end. The rapper also believes cryptocurrencies are just the next progression of economics and he believes the NFT space will someday be a multi-billion dollar industry.
Bitcoin.com News (BCN): When did you first hear about non-fungible tokens (NFTs)?
Ja Rule: You know it’s hard for me to put a date on that, I don’t really know the date. It was early in the year and I haven’t been on NFTs for that long. My first introduction into it was with NBA Top Shot. I started collecting Top Shot NFTs and I didn’t even realize they were NFTs at the time.
I just thought they were like the new digital sports cards. You know, that type of thing. I started collecting those because I collect regular sports cards. That was like the next obvious progression for sports cards and so I started collecting those and then a friend of mine let me know that what I was collecting was actually NFTs. He told me that ‘you already been collecting them – NBA Top Shots are NFTs.’
So then, I went further down the rabbit hole and got on to Opensea and the rest is kind of history. Once you get on Opensea everything unfolds.
BCN: In addition to NFTs, what do you think about the rise of digital currencies like bitcoin?
Ja Rule: I love bitcoin, I love ethereum, I love cryptocurrencies and decentralization and I think that it’s the next obvious step in economics. It’s going to be an interesting next five or ten years.
BCN: Are you exposed to digital assets like bitcoin or ethereum?
Ja Rule: I hold a little bitcoin, ethereum, solana, and cardano. I actually have my own cryptocurrency, it’s really a social token that I have with a company called ICONN. I haven’t launched it or anything yet but I guess this is going to be my coming out party because I just mentioned it. I have my own currency, I just haven’t launched it yet but it’s definitely ready to go.
The thing with cryptocurrencies is it has to have utility. So I am building out that utility for ICONN which also has a live-streaming platform, ICONN Live. It’s in the App Store now and you can download that and that will be one of the ways you can use [the] ICONN [token] as well.
BCN: How did you get involved with the Flipkick market concept?
Ja Rule: Man, Flipkick.io is such a great idea. So as I got into NFTs I noticed a dope project and the whole angle was something different, which I really loved. The angle of taking physical works of art and authenticating them in a similar way NFTs are authenticated on the blockchain but with a chip. We have a patent pending on our technology, and when I say ours it’s because I’m part of the company.
It’s just a smart thing to be able to authenticate physical artworks cryptographically and let these amazing artists be able to enjoy the fruits of their work and it was never possible before in the past. So I really applaud what Flipkick is as far as the physical NFT space.
BCN: There are a few Flipkick.io-listed NFTs tied to the subject of the Fyre Festival. Curious as to what you think about these Fyre Festival NFTs that are listed? For instance, one NFT is a picture of the cheese sandwich that sold for $80K — What do you think about that sale?
Ja Rule: Yeah that’s an interesting story. Well, my painting that I sold, I wanted to get rid of it and get it out of my house, because I have a whole new chapter in my life. That subject doesn’t define me. I wanted the bad juju out of my house. I sold my painting as an NFT which was great. Then the cheese sandwich photo is a very interesting story, because the guy that actually took that picture of the cheese sandwich — This is a guy I should have animosity toward.
Because he took a picture of a cheese sandwich, and that was a false narrative to what was being served at the festival. It became like the ‘big joke’ and like reality to a lot of people. Like this is what they were serving on this disaster and then you see the documentary, and the woman is sitting there saying she lost money because she fed all these people, saying this and that, and how she cooked amazing food. It’s like which one is it? Were we serving cheese sandwiches or serving this woman’s amazing food? I don’t know which one it was, because I wasn’t there, obviously.
But I’m smart enough to know that if people were being served a cheese sandwich, there would be more than just one picture up. So he came to us with the picture and at first I was against it, because I was like ‘we’re not the Fyre Festival, we’re an auction house.’ We did my painting and it got the company press. It helped kick off the Flipkick company and it is a physical piece of art and a beautiful piece of art, regardless of what it represents. The art [Tripp Derrick Barnes] painted is amazing.
So he deserves to have his art displayed and sold like anybody else. He didn’t know this was going to be a disaster when he painted that work of art. The cheese sandwich story is such an amazing story, because this man brought us this cheese sandwich picture and he wanted to sell it and the rights to the picture, because of all the hoopla and whatever Fyre was. At first, I said ‘let’s not do this,’ but then we learned that… and that James and Test (Flipkick.io co-founders James Cropcho and Robert Testagrossa) said that the guy is trying to sell the picture because he needs a new kidney.
This changed everything. I said ‘ok I get that’ lets put the picture up and hopefully this guy can sell it and save his life.
He then put the picture up on flipkick.io and it didn’t sell. I said ‘ya know Test, this is bigger than just the picture,’ and Test was like ‘Ya know Ja, I agree.’ I said we should buy this picture and save this guy’s life, and that’s just what we did. So I actually own the cheese sandwich picture and Flipkick owns the cheese sandwich picture. The silver lining behind the whole Fyre Festival fiasco is that this man’s life was able to be saved from that picture. I think that’s something people should understand when they look at Ja Rule and say that I wanted to scam people — No, I’m not that guy.
No, I’m that other guy, ya understand, the kind of guy that would save a man’s life by buying a picture that tried to destroy my life. That’s the guy I am.
I hate when people talk about that incident like I’m such a bad guy, and they don’t even know me or know much about the incident. Whenever people talk about the Fyre Festival, I let them know that I was cleared of all wrongdoing. It wasn’t something that was, for me, intentionally done to be a disaster. And that the guy [Billy McFarland] is serving time for his mistakes. Billy’s in jail and he stood up for everything that he did. He let it be known that Ja Rule didn’t do this and he stood up for that. With that being said, the cheese sandwich picture sold and saved a life, and at the end of the day, there is a silver lining out of that whole fiasco.
BCN: A vast number of hip-hop artists, rappers, and other celebrities have been jumping into the NFT industry. Why do you think famous musicians and artists are getting into NFTs?
Ja Rule: I think people are really getting into NFTs because of what it is. Here’s the best way I can explain it and I’m going to give credit to my man Carlos Gill who said this to me the other day and I said that’s a very interesting perspective of NFTs. He said ‘It’s like the stock market, country club, and community all in one.’ It’s everything when you look at what NFTs are.
Its investment, it’s an amazing sense of community, and a driven space that’s a really great time for NFTs and what they are becoming. It’s really changing people’s lives.
BCN: A number of people believe that Bitcoin and NFTs are meant to decentralize the systems that have been corrupted by abusive third parties. What does Ja Rule think about decentralization?
Ja Rule: I like decentralization, I like the fact that people can move their money in different ways. This is a currency that people can use across all forums. Not just in America, but in every country and it’s like the world currency for everyone.
I like the fact that [bitcoin is] decentralized and that’s what I think really makes bitcoin what it is.
BCN: NFTs are expected to be a multi-billion dollar business in the next few years with exponential growth. Do you think that it will grow that valuable?
Ja Rule: I do think that will happen. I think the space is really, really small right now. There’s not a lot of people into NFTs and a lot of people are intrigued and want to know more about it. But it’s still very new and a very young space but it’s growing. A lot of celebrities, a lot of people are getting into it because I think they like the sense of community. Being a part of something. It’s like someone came up with an idea to start these small communities to get wealthy within these groups. Like a secret society. I think that’s what people are getting into.
For me, I love art. First and foremost I love collecting art and there are some NFT projects where I don’t even read the roadmap before I buy the art. Because I don’t care, I love art and love what I bought. For me, art is in the eye of the beholder. What I like, you may not like. What I see as valuable, you may think is garbage. It’s subjective and so is music so it kind of goes hand in hand and for me, it’s the same thing.
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