When the first Bitcoin genesis block was mined 10 years ago, it set two balls in motion. The first we know well: a digital currency and ecosystem we call home. The second, and no less important is a sub-genre of rap music called "crypto rap."
A cursory search on YouTube using the same term unearths a rich furrow of would-be Eminem’s and Stormzys. There’s Colin Talks Crypto, responsible for such blazing bars such as “i'm holder, accumulator, stackin that crypto, i never sell, but I buy that dip though”, catchy. Then there’s the raw talent of 88N8 and his street anthem, "Digital Gold" which pronounces, “All this ripple put a Ripple in my Central bank budget/PONZI Schemes promising pay offs turn me way off.” Preach. And of course, who could forget crypto-rap’s biggest star, the Tupac of C-Rap, Chris Record. His banger ‘HODL Gang’ was featured on John Oliver’s oft-referenced take down of crypto in 2018.
The music video—if you can call it that—even has a cameo from Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin, though it’s unclear how much he knows about his music video debut.
While all of these rappers stress they’re just doing it for the lulz, one c-rapper is trying to make a legitimate career out of rhyming about KYC protocols. His name is Dan Eve, aka CryptoRaptor. The 35-year-old wannabe Biggie from Southampton in the UK has a backstory that many artists can connect with: he got laid off from his job as a business analyst in 2017, and sought solace in rapping.
Since then, he’s made five songs in all. In his latest single, Hotel Poloniexia, he tussles with the familiar struggle all crypto-soldiers face—trying to actually use a crypto exchange:
All my bags hit the ceiling,
Now hope they're overpriced
And I said, 'I should have kept more of my coins, on an offline device'
And in the telegram chatrooms,
I moaned hard about this,
They said you should have matching ID pics
They're right and now my escape has been missed
“I don’t have much confidence,” Eve tells Decrypt. “I got mugged in 2014 and it knocked me down a peg [a British idiom]. When I got made redundant in May, 2017, I thought I needed to bring something to the crypto floor and started writing poetry, but it evolved into a rap.”
Like many rappers before him, his start was a shaky one: sweaty palms, heart fluttering, stage fright, the works. But since then his rap game has come good, and now he’s a regular feature on the crypto conference circuit, appearing at BitBrighton, Coinfest in Manchester and BlockchainHotel in Berlin.
A good rapper knows that to make serious money, you have to branch out from music into TV (see Messrs Snoop, Will Smith, and Ice-T), and Raptor is no exception. He now appears every week on the MadBitcoins show on YouTube, where he’s been charged with adding a dose of caustic wit to the five-minute sermons on all things Bitcoin. As such, he’s developed a bit of an entourage.
While rappers favor fine dining, CryptoRaptor, keeps it real in curry houses where he was spotted pow-wowing with derivatives trader Tone Vays and human foghorn Craig Wright last year. But in his inexorable march up the crypto-ladder, how does he keep his material relevant?
“I stay up to date with Twitter. Opinions aren’t the best sources of news but once you read something ,you can go and research. Keeping your finger on the pulse with 51% attacks and everything else. In order to write something meaningful it has to be a bit topical and have relevance.” Presumably he keeps on track by regularly reading the latest on Decrypt?
“I actually don’t, no.” Ah. But, as Drake always says, “Better late than never, but never late is better.”