Had he lived, rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard (né Russell Tyrone Jones) would have turned 50 last week. A founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan who died in 2004 of a drug overdose, O.D.B. lives on in the popular imagination through his music and tales of his incorrigible behavior. And now, O.D.B. may live forever in digital form courtesy of a new cryptocurrency, ODBCoin, whose crowdsale begins December 1. The coin, officially licensed by O.D.B.’s estate, will trade on the forthcoming AltMarket crypto exchange. Holders will have access to yet-to-be-announced exclusives; profits will go to the O.D.B. estate and help fund the hip-hop career of O.D.B’s first-born son, Young Dirty Bastard (né Barson Unique Jones).
BREAKER recently spoke to Young Dirty and AltMarket CEO Bryce Weiner about what to expect from the ODBCoin—and why it’s the only cryptocurrency with “soul.”
How did the idea for the ODBCoin come about?
Weiner: It goes back to a token that was launched in 2014 called Coinye, which was a parody of Kanye West. Kanye took the [makers] to court and got an injunction against the use of his likeness and image. That was actually the first time that a court had ever intervened in the operation of a decentralized cryptocurrency. That case formed the legal foundation for being able to create officially branded cryptocurrencies within the industry. And our connection with Young Dirty and the O.D.B. estate just made it a natural next step.
Young Dirty, did you know anything about cryptocurrency before this?
Young Dirty: I heard cryptocurrency was out on the internet. It was so big when it came out. It’s still hard to grasp it because it’s all online. It’s gonna change everything you know.
What can the ODBCoin be used for?
Weiner: These tokens essentially are like fan memberships. They’re branded merchandise. We call it “proof of fan.” We can tell by looking at the blockchain how long an individual has owned the coins, when they owned them, how much of it they owned, what transactions they did with that currency. And what it allows us to do is create a real superfan-engagement mechanism where we can empirically tell who someone’s number one fan really is.
And you’ll be able to get merchandise and things of that nature with it?
Weiner: Right now, we’re kind of in beta in that regard, because we want it to be something of a surprise once the crowdsale ends. Speaking conceptually, it could be exclusive O.D.B. merchandise; it could get you access to Young Dirty for meet-and-greets. It potentially could be used to gain entrance to venues in lieu of ticketing or used as a VIP or backstage pass.
And from what I understand, this will be used to fund Young Dirty’s music?
Weiner: Oh, absolutely. This is merchandising, and the profits from the merchandising go to the O.D.B. estate to be reinvested in Young Dirty’s career.
Young Dirty, what do you plan on doing with the proceeds?
Young Dirty: Saving them and then making sure they go for the right quality music. We need to sit down and connect our thoughts and see what we have in the universe. We have great producers like [Wu-Tang Clan’s] RZA we can work with.
So you’re definitely going to work with RZA on your music?
Young Dirty: Oh yeah, he’s my cousin. That’d be what the fans would want. So let’s give the fans the opportunity to dream big with us.
How much will one ODBCoin go for to begin with?
Weiner: It’s a fixed cost of $1 per coin. And there’s no fixed number of coins. So the only coins that will exist are those coins that are sold between the beginning and the end of the sale [on January 31], and that’s all that will ever exist. The intention is that as the O.D.B. brand grows, and as the legacy increases, more fans will wish to become engaged, in the same way that more fans go out and buy T-shirts and baseball caps when they discover the music and fall in love with it.
What you’re describing sounds like a coin for people who might not have experience with cryptocurrency.
Weiner: Oh, it has to be. We’ve implemented Plaid and Stripe [software], and you don’t even realize that you’re using a cryptocurrency exchange. You have the option to pay for the coin with bitcoin and Ethereum. You can also use good, old-fashioned greenbacks, U.S. dollars.
"[O.D.B.] would have been laughing right now, like, 'Is this real? My name is on a computer inside a computer, and it’s basically building its own consciousness.'"
This is all built on the Ethereum blockchain?
Weiner: Yup, ODBCoin will be released as an ERC-20 on Ethereum. We do have an in-house blockchain, the Tao Network, but it needs further time to mature with its tokenization system. Right now, Ethereum is really the only game in town. However, in the next 12 months we anticipate having the development of Tao up to speed.
Young Dirty, your dad lived a pretty wild life. What do you think he would have made of having his own cryptocurrency?
Young Dirty: He came so far from being on food stamps and advertising that lifestyle and keeping it real and raw, that this would have blown his mind. He would have been laughing right now, like, “Is this real? My name is on a computer inside a computer, and it’s basically building its own consciousness.”
Bryce, are you going to be working with other musicians to create other coins?
Weiner: Oh, absolutely. The entire reason for launching AltMarket was to provide a U.S.-based, fully regulated, non-shady cryptocurrency exchange where multimillion-dollar brands can be traded. That sort of infrastructure doesn’t exist. What we want to do is provide a platform almost to the scale of a social-media platform, but that looks and operates exactly like a cryptocurrency exchange.
Do you have other musicians lined up yet?
Weiner: Yes, we absolutely have a roster of musicians coming up. And we have a number of unique events that we’re going to be putting together. My current pet cause is the situation in Flint, Michigan, so we’re talking to some Michigan-based celebrities—and you could probably guess who those might be—and gauging their interest in a three-day concert called Flintstock to raise money to buy a completely new water system for Flint.
So there could be a Kid Rock Coin or a Jack White Coin or something like that?
Weiner: I wouldn’t presume to speculate at this time. However, you have the general idea.
One study showed that more than half of ICOs fail within four months. What makes you think that ODBCoin will be a success?
Weiner: Oh man, I’d love to take this one first. And this is really, really, really easy. All of the frauds and vaporware that have come out of the space are a result of the fact that people are buying tokens with no value and no use. But the only thing you need to use ODBCoin is to love O.D.B. The difference between a listener and a fan is a listener listens to music and a fan pays you for it because they want to hear more.
Young Dirty, what do you think will make ODBCoin a success in a field full of failures and scams?
Young Dirty: We know this can’t be a scam because we have soul. These other cryptocurrencies, they’re missing the soul.
What do you mean your cryptocurrency has “soul”?
Young Dirty: When you listen to the music, it connects to you. It makes you move a certain way. It makes you vibrate. That’s how the planet works. I got girls calling me right now—another soul. Know what I’m sayin’? She could be calling because she’s only attracted to the hip-hop legacy. She heard my father’s music so now she wants to be around me—and probably get a baby in the future—but it’s all about the soul. Like James Brown, man. Soul, man. Soul power.
Are there any the other cryptocurrencies out there that have soul?
Young Dirty: Right now, we’re the only one. You can put that in your paper, too.
"None of these cryptocurrencies are real. It’s all magic internet money. But Young Dirty’s a real guy—you can go and meet him."
So you’re predicting that that people will be drawn to ODBCoin because of the soul.
Weiner: None of these cryptocurrencies are real. It’s all magic internet money. But Young Dirty’s a real guy—you can go and meet him. We had a booth at L.A. Blockchain Week, and Y.D. showed up for a while, and boy, people just went nuts and everybody wanted to talk to him. Even folks that didn’t realize who he was he at first came up just to see what was going on. It was pure magic. So when we talk about soul, I mean, we saw it. That’s not hype; that is real.
What do you anticipate will happened once the coin hits the market?
Weiner: It’s going to take a while for people to understand that this is real. They’ve had so much abuse from bad actors that recognizing something is legitimate might take a minute or two.
Young Dirty: It will take time and understanding that we are real. We’re not one of those people that’s just gonna scam you out of your money.
Do you think that’s a big concern that people might have, that this is a scam?
Young Dirty: I think that’s kind of how the market is. You know, kind of scary. But this is a chance to open your heart and not be so scared and take a chance to friggin’ relate. Relate to your inner self and go for it, man. If you’re a real fan of O.D.B., then show it.
What would you say to somebody who is wavering on getting the coin?
Weiner: If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines in cryptocurrency, this is your opportunity to get in in the safest way possible, to dip your toe in the cryptocurrency community. We’re looking to engage fans, not cryptocurrency fanatics.
Young Dirty: I’m gonna get the coin myself because I’m a fan of the legacy. I’m definitely a fan of my Pops. It’s another way I can learn more about him, because people tell me new stories about my father. Every day. That’s how big of an effect he had on the nation. So I think the fans are going to show up. And they’re going to know who I am, because I’m pushing my father’s legacy to the end of time.
This interview has been edited and condensed. Images courtesy AltMarket.