‘Bitcoin is the gangsta rap of the tech world’: putting the verse in metaverse with crypto rapper Rito Rhymes
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New York’s Rito Rhymes is “an infotaining rapper by day… armed with punchlines, parody and spoken-word wits that relay… infotaining entermation in an unconventional way.” Stockhead caught up with him for a rambling, rhyme-punctuated chat.
Hey Rito, thanks for chatting. Your website says you’re a “software business analyst and designer… excavating the big picture like a visionary miner”. But you’re also a crypto-rapping performance artist. Let’s focus on that. How’d you land on crypto – as both a topic and an investor?
Hey. Alright, crypto, yeah. What drew me in was Bitcoin, the gateway drug. There’s a whole lot of topics that I could always choose to rap about, but Bitcoin was interesting to me because it’s kinda like the gangsta rap of the tech world.
That’s because of its underground origins with Satoshi Nakamoto, the Silk Road…this underground download thing, perceptions of criminal schemes and Ponzis… these are topics you can rap about.
And now it’s booming, sort of like when gangsta rap became mainstream. When Bitcoin crashed when COVID hit and went below three grand, well, as an investor, I wanted in. That seemed like an opportunity to me.
So 2020 – that’s when you really started looking into it?
Yeah, the more I started looking into Bitcoin and the rest of crypto, I was intrigued.
What other cryptos have caught your eye?
Cardano was one of the first coins I looked at. What interested me about it was its academic and peer-reviewed paper-publishing slant, which is like its branding. I’m academically minded and have that background, so I find that one interesting.
And then I started looking at Dogecoin. I didn’t really learn about crypto through Dogecoin, but I learned about Dogecoin as a brand and a community, which I found pretty intriguing.
The thing is, and this is the same for Bitcoin, the power lies in more than the technology… it’s the story around the technology. The brand has become so powerful… and the adoption, which contributes to the brand.
So you’re bullish on Bitcoin, Cardano and DOGE then?
In this climate, I wouldn’t want to say too much… but I think one place you’re not going to have a LUNA-like collapse is Ethereum. I think the Merge and staking gives it upside potential.
Ah, yeah, the Terra LUNA implosion. What’s your take on the recent crypto crash down to sub-$30k levels, and the current state of the market?
To that, I would say…
“Toxic get-rich-quick-ers are the first to leave town when the market is down… but those who care about the industry are sure to stick around.
“Part of crypto’s promise is how it makes itself accessible… thus the price decline from the crash ain’t universally regrettable.
“If you think innovation is measured in market price, think twice.. utility always precedes the roll of speculative dice.”
Nice! So, back to Dogecoin… you don’t see that as a get-rich-quick, meme-coin joke, then? I guess Elon Musk sees something more in it…
I think the days of Dogecoin being hyped as this get-rich, quick vehicle seem to be behind us. The community and the infrastructure is as robust as ever, and it’s becoming stronger. So, like Ethereum, I don’t think you’re gonna see your investment evaporate from having money in Dogecoin, either.
And as for it being a joke meme coin… what’s the difference between Dogecoin and Bitcoin? The underlying technology structure is basically the same. Some differences, yeah, but mostly similar. It’s the brand that makes it a meme coin and Bitcoin not a meme.
That makes sense. So are you into other areas of crypto? NFTs… the metaverse? Is the metaverse just overblown hype?
[Rito busts into some metaversal-based rhyming, here. Have a quick listen…]
So the metaverse… I think it’s a word. Right now, it’s an interesting word. The way I see it, though, is simply virtual technologies. Even right now, in this conversation, we’re in the metaverse. The metaverse is all around us.
All around us… like the Force? Is the metaverse the Force?
What it is, right now, is a whole lot of marketing hype – with a specific focus to lead to the use of AR/VR headsets. But I do think it’s this catch-all for something growing to be ubiquitous, where the word metaverse may not even come to mean anything in the future. Because if it’s everywhere, why point at it? It’s nowhere and everywhere. Let’s just call it life, you know.
What about NFTs and their perceived connection with the metaverse?
I don’t think Web3 is necessarily the key to whatever the metaverse will be in the future. I think it has a significant connection right now, particularly because NFTs are like the de facto trend for owning stuff within the metaverse – in part because people want to have a decentralised system.
But I don’t necessarily think that NFTs have to be the the keys to the metaverse in the future. They’re an interesting starting point, though.
You mentioned decentralisation there… let’s talk about that for a sec. Much of the crypto world is obsessed with it. Do you think the future needs to be decentralised?
Decentralisation is one general paradigm for distributing power. But it’s definitely not a catch-all.
I think it’s something that a lot of crypto developers get wrong – they tend to see decentralisation as something that is very binary, that it’s either decentralised or it’s not.
So, when they try to compare two things and say that one thing is more decentralised than the other… they say, “Oh, that’s not decentralised… this is decentralised”. And that’s just this faulty, misleading way of thinking.
problem wit this statement is tht decentralization is relative, NOT binary. Its not a matter of is it decentralized "yes or no" rather its "how" decentralized is it? Technically ANY blockchain has some level of decentralization to it. even US banking systems hav decentralization https://t.co/a33kov8imx
— Rito Rhymes (@Rito_Rhymes) June 2, 2022
So decentralisation as a notion is not black and white, and instead needs to be treated as highly nuanced?
Yeah, I would say so. I don’t think we should make it an extreme where we should strive to make everything as decentralised as possible. And I don’t think that we should just be throwing around distributions of power just because it’s cool.
What about the average crypto noob… what do you think they tend to get wrong about the industry, crypto investing or blockchain tech itself?
There is no spoon. You’ve seen The Matrix, right?
Yeah, but not in some time. It was largely filmed in Sydney…
Word. But what I mean is… The Matrix… the world is not real. There is no token. There is no object with locality like cash, like, you know. There’s only information about a token that is recorded on a ledger.
So you know, when I’m sending you crypto, there’s not really any crypto in your wallet. When you’re putting crypto in your USB people think, oh, it’s in here right now. You know, it’s in my USB. That’s not what’s happened.
The ledger is this big list of information. And everything stays on that list, things don’t get moved around outside of that list. The ledger is just a story about the token. But the token is not real.
Back to the subject of rhymes… Do you prefer rapping to the converted or unconverted? Do you want to bring people into the fold through rhyme – is that the aim?
So, yeah, that is a big aspiration I have. But I wouldn’t say it’s something I’ve actually gone out of the way to execute on just yet. I do have an experiment in the works, though. I have a lot of parodies of famous songs – rap and pop – that I intend to release soon.
And I would like to see if I can get the attention of people who don’t give a crap about crypto, if they just like Katy Perry, Kanye West, or Eminem or whatever. So they hear a song that they know their whole lives and it’s the crypto version and they’re like, “what?” and it stops them. Hopefully they get some value from it, and that’s the aim.
Is your goal also to sign with a label?
I’m open to that. But there are a lot of alternative internet opportunities where I may be able to monetise using NFTs, for example.
Labels get that marketing machine behind you and can do great things for you that way, and my music could benefit from that. But I do have entrepreneurial interests strongly in mind. I am using Rito Rhymes as a way to build credibility and stand out in the tech world.
And the possibility of working with a label, it may… change my rhetoric, you know, it may make me change course as part of this machine where they want me talking about certain things, which might not be ideal. There might be a middle ground, though, a certain fit for me that works.
Do you have any crypto-market price predictions? Are you prepared to look into its murky crystal ball?
I think anyone you ask that question is just gonna pull something out of their ass. In terms of numbers at least.
But I’ll put it this way… I think that the price went up to where it did, in part because of institutional players coming into the space putting a lot of money in there. And some of the thinking around that has been, “Oh you know, so many big players are involved now… it’s too big to fail now.”
But, I can easily imagine a world where institutional investors are able to bring the speculative price down, and profit from shorting the market…
But one can hope. I think it will go back up. But the value is so arbitrary in terms of, you know, why this price level? You can understand some of the metrics of the movements, but you know, why this? Why does it need to go to $50k, or $100k?
Larger forces are pulling the strings it would seem. We’d better wrap this up… but can you leave us with any final words of crypto-market-related wisdom?
“The crypto crash has been hard for investors, but I’ll say this real soft… If you don’t understand the tech behind cryptos… go to a casino instead… you’ll be way better off.”
Rito describes himself as “an awkward liaison of visionary nerdness”.
“By night, he’s a software business analyst and designer… excavating the big picture like a visionary miner. Earning his M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction from DePaul… he uses powerful critical thinking skills and thought leadership to climb great walls. From crypto to AI to metaverses… when no solution makes sense Rito Rhymes is at your service.”
He can be reached through his website for consulting, public speaking, UX Design and performance-arts opportunities at ritorhymes.com
This article’s Q&A was lightly edited for clarity. The views, information, or opinions expressed in the interview are solely those of the interviewee and do not represent the views of Stockhead.
Stockhead has not provided, endorsed or otherwise assumed responsibility for any financial product advice contained in this article.
At the time of writing, the author owns too many cryptocurrencies and digital assets than is probably sensible in these market conditions. Mainly, these include Bitcoin and Ethereum.