A Speculative Look Into The Potential of NBA Top Shots

16th June 2021

When you manage to capture a moment defined by excitement, then combine it with the tokenization that is an NFT, it immediately solidifies that event in time. Those who were present for a now minted event can relive said experience a million times over and even transfer it to someone who missed out on that opportunity, giving them the chance to be exposed to what they may have missed. In other words, past generations can hold onto these moments of nostalgia while future generations can understand first-hand the significance of monumental events that took place before their time. NBA Topshot has managed to do this repeatedly and has cemented itself among the top contributors to the digital world that is NFT’s.

 

     This begs the question, is this exclusive to athletics and can this be applied to other aspects of entertainment? I believe this is not exclusive to sports, but also applicable to a wide variety of entertainment genres including, but not limited to, music. We already know music can be minted in a variety of ways, so why am I bringing it up? Well as we’ve seen, music entertainment, more specifically- rap music, has been captured via imagery, digital gifs, and sound bytes – then later sold as exclusive NFT’s. What if we could capture a famous moment on stage, such as the infamous performance of the Tupac hologram, and give it the 1/1 stamp to pass on ownership of the experience? For instance, Lebron James’ Dunk on November 15th, 2019 is being sold by NBA Topshot for $250,000 (or at the time of writing this 97.64 ETH). 

Lil Nas X Billy Ray Cyrus
Lil Nas X Billy Ray Cyrus

   

I’d argue there are moments of history in music entertainment that are just as, if not more valuable, than Lebron’s aforementioned dunk. I know everyone in my generation looks back fondly upon the up in smoke tour lead by Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre. Imagine the green lights, Snoop Dogg’s impeccable wardrobe, the atmosphere encapsulated into a single moment that thousands of people wish they could reimagine. There are similar moments that are more contemporary such as the first Rolling Loud tour, The Courtroom Chronicles of Tekashi69 as documented in sketches by artist Jane Rosenberg, or even the groundbreaking release of Old Town Road by Lil Nas X. Note how these are critical moments in an artist’s timeline, not just on-stage performances. Footage of the first Rolling Loud Tour can be condensed into a digital gif, Tekashi 69 could use his sense of self-deprecating humor to compile a digitized version of songs he hand wrote in prison, Lil Nas X could accompany a gif of him and Billy Ray Cyrus with a sound-byte of Old Town Road’s chorus. 

Biggie Tupac Budweiser Fest.
Biggie Tupac Budweiser Fest.

 

An epic performance can now be minted and transformed from a moment of nostalgia into a not-so-distant memory. Like many articles you’ll find here, this one is quite speculative. Suffice it to say it is my personal opinion that music entertainment in relation to NFTs will only evolve. So far, all we’ve seen in the hip-hop space are Pieces based on smaller moments in time such as Lil Pump’s Jewelry or “esskeetit” card.These just seem like digital pieces of merchandise and pale in comparison to other substantial moments in his career, such as his Gucci Gang video which, as it stands, currently has amassed over one billion views after garnering 10 million on its first day. Don’t give me these poorly thought-out generic pieces of ‘merch,’ Lil Pump… Give me a moment in time! It still remains to be seen as to who the first artist or label will be to implement a level of nostalgia for the fans in this space. What we need is releases with more magnitude, with the consumer in mind, and not what seems to be artists’ money-grubbing simply because NFT’s are popular.

 

     The NBA differs from Hip-Hop in many important ways. Most significantly, the NBA essentially has American basketball under its belt in a roster format that would be impossible for a record label. This is critical in understanding the challenges that coincide with minting various moments in time. There are a multitude of legalities that have the potential to be deterrents for massive events in the hip hop world. Where as in the world of NBA, we can find on NBA Topshots’ website Zion Williamson’s iconic block which is #49 of their first cosmic series. However  Atlantic or Warner Brothers may have trouble coming to a mutually beneficial agreement to create and release a product. Especially considering the frequency in which artists have fallen out in the music, but more specifically Hip-Hop, industries. Think about the enormity that would be associated with a minting of the mind blowing freestyle Tupac and Biggie Smalls showcased at the Budweiser Superfest of January 15th 1994. The politics surrounding their relationships with one another while they were alive, in addition to the lure and mystery of their careers, alongside the preceding ‘beef,’ would only prove to be a major selling point. It also would inevitably prove to be the reason this would never happen. There are too many similar situations in the world of rap music from those as extreme as this example to instances as simple as an image issue.

 

Tekashi-= 6ix9ine courtroom sketch
Tekashi 6ix9ine courtroom sketch

 

In summary there is infinite potential for the world of Hip-Hop to make major virtual strides just like the NBA has managed to. However, their maximum potential won’t be realized until this artform can practice more unity amongst itself and it’s artists. It is also critical that competing record labels establish more comradery with one another to allow for more cultural growth. This benefits everyone from big wig executives down to the kid listening to the radio on the way to school. The metaverse, as it currently stands, is nowhere near as fruitful as it can be. Influence from other forms of entertainment will be what takes it to the next level. Let me be clear when I say that the minting process is brand new to most within it’s space. It is up to us as creatives and influencers to spread the knowledge and grow collectively. And this is what will ultimately open more doors for our community. The potential is there, let’s actualize it.

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