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Jay-Z’s First NFT is Stored on the Blockweave

A historical NFT, Heir to the Throne, was minted for auction on June 25th 2021 to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the release date of Jay-Z’s debut album Reasonable Doubt. The NFT media file is stored permanently on Arweave, rated by Sotheby’s as “the most robust decentralized file storage system”.

“The permanence of this NFT is rated Excellent. The metadata associated with this NFT is higher than current industry standards. The media data associated with this NFT is stored on Arweave, the most robust decentralized file storage system.”

Arweave also stores a copy of the NFT’s terms.

Sharing its title with the working title of the artist’s debut album, the NFT (contact id 0x00372812abcb11c2ea291aeb7f612d9e0524b013) is a re-imagining of the iconic album cover of Reasonable Doubt.

Reasonable Doubt was released on June 25th 1996 – it represents Jay-Z’s debut and one of hip-hop’s landmark albums. Jay-Z’s mafiosi lyrics come across like a confession – a way to reflect on the darker side of street life, and, for the artist, “like a psychiatrist’s couch”.

The Arweave-stored 500MB animation is a digital animation based on a painting by multidisciplinary artist Derrick Adams, who was influenced in college years by the album’s aesthetics.

The NFT animated smoke, glistening jewelry, and the glow of a lit cigar – “transforming [the album art] into an NFT is something that was definitely challenging for me as an artist but the greatest challenge was thinking – what about the painting needs to be activated?”.

“What I remember most about the album was what Jay was wearing on the cover, and how the lyrics somehow were reflective of a new era of thinking about rap music and how rappers are portrayed in the media”, Adams told Sotheby’s in an interview.

Jay-Z’s excitement for the NFT space seems to be increasing, and not just for its money-making potential. Cryptopunks broke into even loftier mainstream heights lately when Mr. Carter himself changed the avatar of Twitter account, @sc, to punk #6095.

On top of that, Jay-Z recently spoke with Twitter founder and TIDAL stakeholder Jack Dorsey about the importance of blockchain technology for the future of artist’s rights.

Dorsey and Jay-Z outlined plans to bring NFTs to TIDAL and investigate “what we can do to help artists with these new technologies”. Jay-Z discussed in the Twitter Spaces conversation how smart contracts guarantee specific payoffs for artists – “you can write the contract today to say, any sale that happens, I want to receive 10% or 30%”.

Technology that assures proper rights for artists could resonate with Jay-Z due to his patchy history with the legal side of the music industry – Jay has faced numerous lawsuits over intellectual property for samples used in tracks, licensing around his clothing line, and most recently, the rights to his debut album.

The auction announcement comes after a legal dispute between Jay-Z and fellow Roc-A-Fella founder Damon Dash over the right to sell the Reasonable Doubt album itself as an NFT, the rights to which Dash does not fully own. Instead of auctioning off the album, Jay-Z collaborated with Adams to celebrate its 25th anniversary with an artwork based on its album cover – and sidestep any further legal disputes.

Sotheby’s lists the auction for Heir to the Throne here, and the artwork is also on display in Decentraland in the Voltaire Art District:

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