MTV has been grappling with declining viewership of the Video Music Awards (VMAs) for years. The 2022 VMAs, held on Sunday, August 28, marked a new era for the 38-year tradition, with a major upswing in audience. Why the sudden applause? NFTs.
Two OGs of the music industry (and crypto enthusiasts), Snoop Dogg and Eminem, performed as their NFT avatars at the VMAs, held at New Jersey’s Prudential Center. The pair took a trip to the metaverse as they introduced their new song, ‘From The D 2 to LBC’, to the world — their first collaboration in over 20 years.
The metaverse-themed performance was organised in partnership with Bored Ape Yacht Club creators Yuga Labs. They rapped as their digital avatars inside Yuga Labs’ upcoming metaverse project, Otherside.
The song started with Snoop Dogg and Eminem in the studio, then transformed into trippy animated adventures to each of their hometowns — Detroit and Long Beach, California — all as their NFT avatars.
The video for the track was nominated in the Best Hip Hop category. It’s the first collaboration for the rappers since 2000, when music videos were just as memorable as the songs themselves.
Redefining concerts, categories and careers
The 2022 MTV VMAs introduced a brand-new category into its list of awards: Best Metaverse Performance. Six artists were nominated:
- The Rift Tour, Ariana Grande (Fortnite)
- An Interactive Virtual Experience, Justin Bieber (Wave)
- Twenty One Pilots Concert Experience (Roblox)
- BTS, Minecraft (YouTube)
- Charli XCX (Roblox)
- The Virtual, Blackpink (PUBG Mobile), who took home the award.
While the music industry has welcomed Web3 innovations, there’s nothing quite like the power of celebrity to turn heads and get the world listening. In just two days, the ‘From The D 2 to LBC’ video has received more than a million views on MTV’s YouTube channel.
Reactions to NFTs at the VMAs
Diehard fans and Bored Ape evangelists are in two minds about the rappers’ performance. The Eminem subreddit is bursting with commentary. Many for it, many against it.
sHoko23 said: “People want to see the artist at the VMAs, not a video. There are other places like a metaverses concert to do it that way. Give people time to adjust, otherwise they will hate it.”
Others believe “history is being made” and this is the beginning of artists representing their NFTs.
A new genre in the making?
According to the Bored Ape Yacht Club, the Snoop Dogg and Eminem performance is a “gamified, interoperable metaverse, where your NFTs can become players”. And they’re right on the money, with five of the six ‘Best Metaverse Performance’ VMA nominees having held their concerts in popular video games.
It’s undeniably that ‘From The D 2 to LBC’ strays far from the original roots of early hip hop block parties with its R&B, jazz, soul, funk and poetry influences. But this begs the question: do we need to decentralise our mindsets when it comes to the future of music?
Some suggest Snoop Dogg and Eminem took it too far, bending reality with giant spliffs and galaxies with shitty graphics that made it barely possible to see any real performance.
Whether Web3 can resuscitate the cultural importance of music videos is in question. The new clickable move could get fans closer to the artists who venture or drive them further away.
Only time (and views) will tell. Where the likes of Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Bieber and Grande go, the masses tend to follow.