Crypto Rap

Money Man bagged the first all-bitcoin label advance for album, Blockchain

"Put him onto crypto it was cheap, but he didn't want to listen."

Money Man is no stranger to Bitcoin. The Atlanta rapper has been preaching the good word for years now, claiming he first got into digital currency in 2013. Speaking to Pitchfork in 2018, the former Cash Money Records signee claimed that he’d earned at least six figures from crypto alone: “I had Bitcoin back when it was at $300,” he stated matter-of-factly at the time. “I just had a hunch that it was gonna explode, and it went all the way up to $18,000 when I cashed them out.”

That hunch has clearly paid off. Last week, Money Man reportedly became the first artist to receive a label advance entirely in Bitcoin for his just-released, crypto-themed album, Blockchain.

Known for consistent releases, the artist has dropped at least one project per year since 2016. His most recent record leans heavily into the crypto-mastermind persona. Entitled Blockchain, the 13-track album contains songs with names like “LLC” and also boasts a feature from Moneybagg Yo, one of the largest figures in rap. Before Blockchain was released last Friday, EMPIRE — a distributor and independent label — uploaded a short video to its socials that... well you should check it out for yourself:

In the screen recording, we see a Cash App transaction between Ghazi Shami, EMPIRE’s founder, and Money Man, where Shami is extending a $1 million advance to the rapper entirely in Bitcoin, working out to roughly 14.7 BTC at the time. The moment made some waves last week as being the first-ever label advance to be doled out in cryptocurrency.

Welcome to your new future— The whole ordeal feels like a multi-pronged marketing scheme. It obviously is meant to drum up interest for Money Man’s new project, but it also serves as cross-promotion for Cash App and the ubiquity of crypto. In addition to Blockchain’s release, Money Man also launched an NFT collection of the album trailer which, if purchased, also gave fans a discount on the artist’s merch store.

While this kind of promotion is unprecedented, it could be a sign of things to come as crypto and non-fungible tokens go further and further from niche obsession to mainstream topic of interest. UnitedMasters, an American music distribution company, began allowing artists to get paid in various cryptocurrencies last month. Legacy Records, a division of Sony Music, also hopped on the trend earlier in May, allowing artists to get paid in bitcoin.

It will be interesting to see how the worlds of rap and crypto continue to intersect. Meek Mill expressed support in the way Money Man handled his advance payout, and if figureheads in the genre begin to go the Bitcoin route, it could serve as the standard way to operate. Of course, Money Man was poring over a computer monitoring his crypto investments way before anyone else.