Massachusetts rapper/singer Lateb, is harnessing Blockchain technology by pre-releasing his upcoming album ‘Undone’ as an NFT (Non-Fungible Token). Could Blockchain be the future of music? We caught up with Lateb to find out more.
Lateb, welcome to File Under Hip Hop. Introduce yourself and tell us how you got in the game?
Hey, thank you for having me. I was born in Hartford CT, but first got into the scene when I moved to MA and started a group called Heddshotts.
Since then I’ve released a project with Stubangas. A couple with German producer LGP, and most recently a joint project with Oblivious produced entirely by Jon Glass. Oblivious and I have toured Europe 3 times and have been on the road with Reks and M-Dot while booking most of the shows ourselves.
Our last tour ended poorly as it was right when they were shutting down the borders because of Covid 19. We took an emergency flight home from Switzerland after playing in Geneva the night before we had to cut it short.
Now I am about to release my fourth real solo venture. In a way, I’m crossing over with this one.
As mentioned you’re about to release your fourth studio album Undone with production by Serbian producer L.O.B (Loud Obnoxious Beats) and Boston producer The Arcitype. Tell us more about the album.
I’m an artist that just kind of clicks with certain producers. I like cohesiveness with style and sound. So when I do a project I tend to stick with one producer much to the dismay of some of my peers.
L.O.B. is known for that hard-hitting boom-bap sound, that gritty griminess. He has produced a lot of dope Grind Mode Cyphers which is how I came to know of him honestly. We instantly connected. When I approached this project I wanted to incorporate more singing on it. So when I sent him the first tracks he was like “what the hell I didn’t expect this!.”
I wanted to make a work of art something that had a song for everyone on it. From the most underground head to a hustler, to a girl in her room getting ready to go out, or someone struggling with depression. I think we really accomplished that with this album.
When I started recording the album The Arcitype was engineering for me. He had so many great ideas to add to the songs so we just ran with it. Arc is one of the most well-respected producers in Boston. He’s won multiple awards. When you work in a studio with him you really see his genius at work and his passion to make everything he touches better.
I was really fortunate to have both these guys work on the album with me.
With this release, you will be the first Hip Hop artist whose album can be pre-purchased with the cryptocurrency Ethereum. How does this work?
Yes, so this concept was actually the brainchild of my brother Adrian Baldeon at Black Belt Financial.
I dabble in CryptoCurrency, but he was like no one is selling albums on here. There are gifs selling on the same platform selling and reselling for half a million dollars. To think about how I could presale my album by creating an NFT and collect royalties on the resale of the album is just a cool concept.
It is imperfect and the fees to sell it are high and go with the price of ethereum. But hey it’s art can you really put a price on that? We basically used this platform to sell something that wasn’t meant to be sold on it so there are flaws.
The steps are; you go to the NFT sale page and place a bid. If the seller accepts it unlocks an email that you email with your purchase. Then you get sent the full album in high-quality mastered files.
Of course, you must own ethereum and a digital wallet to purchase it so it can be tricky for a lot of people who want to have the album early.
Can you explain the fact that the album can be resold on Blockchain?
Yes, so as I said before the album can be resold by the owner. As of right now, I do not own my own NFT it has been bought and put up for resale. If you own the NFT you can essentially set the price/market.
I gained 100% of the original sale but gain 20% of every sale when it sells from here on out. It’s just a different form of royalty collection.
Where did this concept/idea come from?
Everyone has been talking crypto because of the recent surge of Bitcoin and dogecoin. The ethereum platform is actually useful and businesses can be built on it.
It does need a lot of work for it to be used in the fashion that we have. A 1 of 1 that only one person can own at a time was just too cool to pass up.
Will the album Undone be available as a digital link or physical copy?
Undone is scheduled to drop on March 26 2021 on Itunes and Spotify. Plus all the major streaming and download services.
If I do drop a physical it will be on vinyl only. With the pandemic going on and the inability to tour it’s difficult to commit to any other format. An artist is better off selling clothes or exclusive novelty items instead of CD’s.
Is Blockchain the future of music? Do you think this is the future for independent artists as there’s no middle man or streaming companies taking their cut?
I think it needs a lot of work still. It definitely has the potential to be, but we are years away from it.
If you have a big fan base it is definitely more beneficial right now. Something has to be done about the gas fees that deviate people from buying the art. But if someone is a die-hard they will buy it regardless.
At the end of the day, a 20% cut of the resale of your album is a higher cut than anyone stream on any service and potentially more if the owner sets a higher price tag.
This way the fans dictate the market not the streaming services.
How safe is it?
It is easier to steal credit card information than anything in your digital wallet to put it simply. For the artist who is selling the music the answer is more complicated.
I would think that in my case a 1 of 1 Token of an album would be pretty secure because anyone leaking the album would be the owner of the token. If you leak the album the Token loses value because it would no longer be a 1 of 1. So it would discourage the owner from leaking the album and hurting the resale value.
What do you hope the outcome will be for your album?
Expectations are tempered. This was a new experimental idea that I have no idea if it will work. I’m happy it sold and is up for resale and maybe it will sell some more.
As people become more familiar with crypto, results should improve in the future. I expect most people to buy it on iTunes or stream it on Spotify still.
It was a great learning experience, but like I said it still needs a lot of work. This is the best most diverse work I’ve ever done and I hope to tour and perform these songs across the world in 2022.
Lateb thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I’m looking forward to the outcome of your release and making Hip Hop History!
Thank you so much. I appreciate you too. I can’t wait for you guys to hear it. Listen to the latest single and purchase the album ahead of time here. *Note: Token ownership does not equal ownership to music rights
Interview by Jai Boo