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Jay-Z Celebrates 25 Years of “Reasonable Doubt” With Exclusive NFT

Last Updated: July 21, 2021
Hova teamed up with artist Derrick Adams to reimagine his debut album’s cover for a 1-of-1 digital collectible headed for auction at Sotheby’s.

Exactly 25 years ago, the rap game changed forever. Frequently cited among the most important years for the genre, 1996 served as the official, album-length introduction of a new voice out of Brooklyn. An inimitable hustler with an unforgettable voice, Jay-Z burst onto the scene with his first LP, Reasonable Doubt.

At the time of its release, Hova envisioned the record as a one-off. However, it ended up kick-starting his ascendancy as a mogul whose success in music, business, and beyond would have been unfathomable to a 27-year-old from Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Marcy Houses.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the legendary album, Mr. Carter is collaborating Brooklyn-based multi-disciplinary Derrick Adams for Heir to the Throne, an animated non-fungible token artwork. The 1-of-1 NFT re-envisions the iconic cover and recalls the originally planned title of the album, which ended up being the first to be released by Roc-A-Fella Records.

The exclusive NFT “serves as a comment and reminder that Reasonable Doubt remains vital and new today,” reads the project’s official announcement.

To capture the essence of this historic release, Adams was the ideal artistic collaborator. Traditionally, his work exists at the intersection of pop culture and self-expression, playing with the ways that they interact and co-exist with one another.

According to the official announcement, Adams “channels not just the spirit and impact of the music, but also the aspirational impulses of a young musician at the dawn of his career… [He] makes the work come to life through animated glowing red embers and a stream of smoke that rises from the end of Jay’s iconic cigar, and transforms into the number 25 in honor of the album’s anniversary.”

The auction comes just days after Hova and Roc-A-Fella announced a suit against the label’s co-founder, Damon Dash, blocking his efforts to sell the album as a commemorative NFT. As a result, Sotheby’s is making it clear that its auction “is also the only official event authorized by Jay-Z to commemorate Reasonable Doubt‘s historic 25th anniversary.”

Music is thought to be among the next great frontiers for NFTs, and the original way in which this exclusive collectible merges music and art could be the start of a repeatable trend. It’s first NFT project for both Adams and Jay-Z, but if it makes a splash befitting the album it celebrates, it almost certainly won’t be the last.

Keep an eye on November 4, 2022, the 25th anniversary of Jay’s second album, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1.

Heir to the Throne will be auctioned via Sotheby’s online. The bidding remains open through Friday, July 2. A portion of the proceeds will go towards The Shawn Carter Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting individuals confronting financial hardship while pursuing postsecondary education.

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About The Author
Bernadette Doykos
Bernadette Doykos
Bernadette Doykos is the Senior Director of Editorial Strategy at Boardroom. Before joining the team, her work appeared in ELLE. She previously served as the head of evaluation for a nonprofit where she became obsessed with systems and strategy and served as the curator of vibes and extinguisher of fires for the design thinking firm Stoked. She is constantly plotting a perfect tunnel ‘fit and a playlist for all occasions.