Royce Da 5’9 is a student of Hip Hop culture, first and foremost. Along his journey, he’s contributed a stellar body of work, including 2020’s Grammy Award-nominated album The Allegory. The 22-track project boasted appearances from Benny The Butcher, Conway The Machine, KXNG Crooked, CyHi The Prynce, DJ Premier and Vince Staples, among others.
It also featured an uncredited contribution from his longtime friend and Bad Meets Evil co-conspirator Eminem. The two Motor City natives have consistently appeared on each other’s endeavors and now, fans can own part of Royce Da 5’9’s Book of Ryan single “Caterpillar” featuring Eminem and King Green. Released in 2018, the song has amassed over 61 million YouTube views and peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.
In partnership with music royalty marketplace Royal, Nickel Nine has given fans the opportunity to purchase streaming royalty rights to “Caterpillar” that will generate payouts as the song is streamed. In sharing ownership of his music with fans, Royce joins artists such as Nas, Big Boi, Logic, Diplo and Joyner Lucas in rewriting the decades-old rules of the music industry. Historically, this type of music ownership and investment has been limited to record labels and private equity groups.
By allowing fans to invest directly in the artists and songs they believe in, Royal is empowering artists and creating a new relationship between musicians and their supporters, providing greater autonomy from the institutions that have historically dominated the industry.
“I regained ownership from a lot of my masters, going back to the early 2000s,” Royce told HipHopDX in a recent interview. “I am really, really, really proud of that. This is more of a cultural thing than it is a business play. This is me being proactive with just taking steps with things that I’m interested in.
“I feel like it’s the perfect time to get my feet wet with just something that’s moderate, something that’s cool. I wanted to show everybody you can take steps and there’s no such thing as a L. So why not do it? You know Royal is a fantastic company.”
Beginning June 28, fans were able to buy in at three different tiers that came with exclusive content beginning at $79 and going all the way up to $1,299. As Royce Da 5’9 explained, “We have one called 500 Gold, that’s the cheapest one at $79. That’s for 0.0222 percent ownership. Right? That gets you first dibs on the next Royce Da 5’9 drop, which is the next NFT drop. And then it gives you access to the collector channel.
“Then you have the 250 Platinum at $299 and that’s 0.0884 percent ownership. You get exclusive content, first dibs on the next drop. And then three, the Diamond one, is $1,999 at 0.5915 percent ownership per token. With that, you get an in-person writing session with me at my studio Heaven, which hasn’t been open to the public yet. So that’s very exclusive within itself. Then, there’s limited edition autographed vinyl. Obviously, first dibs on the next drop and access to the Royal collector channel and some exclusive content, which I’m not even saying what that’s going to even be yet because it’s going to be some exciting shit.”
Royce admitted he’s still learning about the cryptocurrency space but getting fantastic guidance from the people at Royal. Evidently, it was a smart move for the company, too — “Caterpillar” sold out in 30 minutes.
“I’m learning as I go,” he said. “I’m not stepping into this space claiming to be an expert. I hate when people do that. I hate when people come into the rap space act like that they’re expert lyricists. Like that shit offends me a little bit. It’s the same in the sneakerhead world. It’s the same in professional sports. It’s the same with acting. Rappers trying to be actors. The Samuel L. Jacksons of the world start to speak out.”
But as Royce Da 5’9 explained, he didn’t enter the partnership looking for a “get-rich-quick scheme” — it’s not about money for him. In fact, he has Nas to thank for the inspiration.
“I’ve seen Nas do it,” he said. “Nas was one of my fucking idols. I seen him do it and it was exciting just as a fan. Like when I seen him do that, that was one of the first fan moments that I had in a very long time. I just thought, ‘Wow.’ He did it with one of his last albums. He’s leading away, because normally, these types of activations are done by record labels and companies that buy up everybody’s masters.
“It’s normally done by those types of companies. So when you see it done by an actual artist with their own music and having a free rein to play ball with their own music, however, I just think it sets a very positive tone for the creators.”
Nas announced his Royal partnership in January with the songs “Ultra Black” and “Rare” from 2020’s King’s Disease and its 2021 sequel. With prolific Hip Hop artists such as Nas blazing the trail, Royce is hoping even more will follow suit.
“If you have the right situation, if you can still control the master, you can still play ball with labels,” he said. “They still have a place. They can participate in stuff, too, but they don’t have to own everything. And that’s the thing that I want the youngins to realize. They don’t have to own everything, but if it’s moving properly, there’s a space for them to be in. There’s a degree in which you can be embed with them where they’re still happy. But if you create it, it should be yours.”