Today, like too many days, the biggest happening on the blockchain was an Elon Musk tweet, so we’ve decided to inject our usual programming with some actual value, along with some run-of-the-mill irreverence and dopamine. Read on for a crash course in navigating the modern art market, a flaying of DeFi downpour economics, and some truly godly NFTs, because, after all, this is everything important on the Internet, in one email, twice a week.
Chad & El Prof
Second dog to the moon.
We’re about half a year out now from the time some guy put his life’s savings into a literal meme and came out a millionaire exactly 69 days later. Back in the spring, Dogecoin made mainstream headlines for its extreme volatility — it minted a lot more bankruptcies than billionaires, seemingly off the whim of whatever Elon Musk tweeted. If that doesn’t scream ‘simulation on 5% processing’ I don’t know what will.
But history (and/or the matrix’s sloppy automated settings) seem doomed to repeat themselves. Yesterday morning, a second dog-based meme coin, Shiba Inu, rose 30% and deleted a zero from its decimal value after Musk tweeted a picture of… his dog.
Let’s be clear. The coin is still worth less than a penny, despite prices surging 8000% in the past year. But if you bought in with just $1,000 worth of less-than-pennies last year — well, I’ll let you do the math. This is just another succinct summary of the appealing and appalling truths of DeFi (decentralized finance) in one news story: meme tokens are a quick and easy way to make or lose millions, tethered almost entirely to whatever one creepy, would-be Bond villain is feeling that day.
Lately we’re not the only ones jumping ship on DeFi in favor of NFTs. This tweet sums up the reasons why quite nicely:
Much like the moon it so often shoots toward, the potential of Web 3.0 is unexplored. We understand that, to a lot of you, meme coins and NFTs might mean more or less the same thing, and whatever that thing is, you zoned out because some drunk asshole at the bar spent an hour trying to mansplain it. No worries. We get it. We only ask you forgive us for trying too. Read on for what DeFi and NFTs mean for you.
(Drinks in the face are an occupational hazard we’re willing to pay.)
Million dollars worth of game for .009eth.
We try to keep it light on the education here — we think undergrad was a $200k scam, too. But it recently dawned on me that many of you still believe buying an NFT is equally as scammy. So here’s a quick crash course in financial engineering.
The art market exists because rich people like getting richer. As cash inflates, it loses value, so the Bezos and Beyoncés of the world with billions of it need something to spend it on that won’t. Art is just a tangible asset they can borrow against to fund business operations, sell at a loss to offset their annual tax bill, or buy a new yacht.
Before blockchain, there wasn’t an accessible way for anyone without a private island to do this. Now, there is. Sure, instead of Picasso you’re buying a twerking Pepe, but the founding principles are the same. Collectible fine art has a record of ownership associated with it, provenance. Having provenance — authenticity and quality insurance — helps to establish a work of art’s fair market value. And since the blockchain is a public ledger, there is provenance inherent in every NFT transaction.
This means that if/when Ethereum goes to the moon, as many believe it will, the value of NFTs linked to ETH will also rise. We saw this in action in February, when the NFT craze took off after the price of ETH doubled. Hyped projects like CryptoPunks, purchased for 3.5eth in 2018 when 1eth was worth $200, sold for the same amount of Ethereum, or far more, when 1eth jumped to $2,000. And even less publicized NFTs could be sold at a loss in Ethereum for gains in USD. As of the end of Q3, NFT sales are still surging — so, fad or not, there’s real money to be made here.
Of course, not every NFT is automatically a safe bet. But NFTs aren’t all just cheap JPEGs whipped up in some neckbeard’s basement either. Many are created by startups developing dope products or artists exploring possibilities on a new medium (see below) while some offer exclusive access to metaverse content for those of us who still want to play video games for a living.
Be smart, do your research, and invest in projects you believe in. In the end, NFTs are to the art market as meme coins are to Ponzi schemes — basically the same thing, but now you don’t have to be rich to benefit from them. We’ll take the former any day, but you do you. Rappers love to shout out Madoff, too.
A white guy got fired by Britney Spears.
Last week on Main Street more people got murdered. The dollar store raised prices. Clergymen and R. Kelly are certified pedophiles. Wildlife died from spilled oil and people being people. There’s a pill now for global pandemics. A couple countries got new prime ministers. Big businesses got whistle-blown and came up with more ways to spy on us. Captain Kirk got a ticket to the final frontier. An old white guy got fired by Britney Spears. Artists took their money and ran. Who can blame them?
This Tuesday, that collection is ‘Somewhere in the universe…’ by MoiThePainter, and I’m wondering, is there a Chance that maybe Moi will collab with the Rapper to Paint some sick cover art in the future? I’m sorry. I know. Lame. But that’s who I am, and it more than qualifies me to review the vast majority of NFTs I’ve come across.
But, fortunately, not these. Hailing from Mexico, Moi’s an Artist with a capital A, which we don’t have the luxury of reviewing much on here. Working in a mixed medium style, this collection of 90 unique paintings and their associated NFTs is deeply spiritual, befitting a ‘work of years.’ Everything about this collection says opus, from the denatured depictions of Stars of David and sacred geometry to caricatures of taboo Biblical characters.
Looking at this collection, I feel like Ezekiel did, staring down those angels that were definitely actually aliens — ‘high and awesome.’ (Ezekiel 1:22. Swear to God.)
Much like my current bias against artwork whipped up in 30 seconds on MS Paint, I used to consider acrylics and watercolor juvenile, but the imperfection of this collection — especially when compared to the AI-generated uncanny valley porn I’m usually stuck reviewing — really works for me. An absolute buy if I had the ETH.
Viva los creativos!
Hyper pop punk death metal fusion.
No one sent me any recommendations last week, so you’re stuck with my sensibilities again today, which you’ll find range from ‘literally indescribable’ to ‘hyper pop punk death metal fusion.’ Seriously. Be a HOR and respond tonight with what you’re listening to. I doubt you can take much more of what I am.
<10k streams: Fever Dream by Martin j. Ballou
Projects I have trouble describing in a paragraph make my job harder but my life better, and the latest LP from Baltimore’s Martin j. Ballou is no different. ‘Hybrid hip hop / R&B’ is about as overused in the underground scene as ‘members only benefits’ is in the crypto space, so let’s just say Ballou sings, raps, and makes it work.
Stretches of the project sound like ‘Nikes’ expanded to album length, but it swings frequently into a more classic Odd Future sound, like on the Earl aping ‘Master (& Margarita)’. The former works better, and not only because I cry during that scene in Normal People, too. Despite some hilariously memorable guest verses — Fonlon, here’s looking at you — Ballou works best when left to his own devices. Melancholy bangers ‘Burn’ and ‘Theme’ strike a better balance of melodrama and authenticity than the vast majority of artists who’ve made careers doing the same thing.
Best of all, even on songs with more traditional structures, no two moments feel the same, and the transitions between them are seamless, making the project’s eclectic impulses feel less like #aesthetic randomness and more like intentional world building. It’s Ballou’s world, and you should go live in it — for 33 minutes at least.
It probably sounded like I was pulling the genre up top out my ass, but this project from cemeteryflowers, a criminally underrated pioneer of the Soundcloud emo scene, really does sound as if 1000 gecs was tracked in Sony Acid on a 1999 Windows Workstation, which, going off the cover art alone, I’m pretty sure is the vibe gone for.
This EP has it all. The requisite earworm I’ll regret having heard when the hook pops back into my head at 2 AM tonight is there in ‘sleepless’ — and in case you don’t believe me on the death metal fusion of it all, do yourself a favor and skip to 1:24 in ‘take it back’ for the most abrupt heel turn this side of Stone Cold. The genre’s a joke, but maybe that’s the whole point. After all, it’s right there in the first song:
learning information but i know i’ll never know enough
when everything is everything, everyone is make believe
Shouts out the winner of our first referral contest, Ethan, who is now the floor price of a digititty richer after referring 7 new subscribers to Culture HOR last month.
Yup, you HORs — that might be all it takes to win a $250 Visa gift card again this month. Refer the most subscribers through the link below for your chance at literal free money. Or just send it to a friend or two. You never know where an email to David will get you.
(Put on blast in an Internet newsletter, evidently.)