The DAO is the first ever crowdfunded and decentralized autonomous organization, built on Ethereum. It was created to power a new economy of value creation, without any intermediaries or outside control. What’s next? How can we build more democratic communities using this technology?
DAOs are a way to organize and motivate people around a similar objective, and they’re gaining traction in a variety of fields. One hip hop entrepreneur is building a DAO to empower and improve the community at the heart of the genre.
Anthony Marshall and his closest buddy Danny Castro co-founded the breakthrough MC showcase The Lyricist Lounge in the early 1990s. The Lounge was an open mic for aspiring hip hop musicians who went on to become superstars. Marshall is extending that basic brand into web3. He is a keen explorer and future-thinker.
Over thirty years ago, you founded The Lyricist Lounge. What triggered the event, and what were some of your favorite moments?
Charles Thompson, one of our mentors, was passionate about encouraging young people into the music profession. He had a little practice room on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of New York City. He said if we wanted to bring a few friends, he’d ask some music business buddies to mentor us, and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for the last thirty years.
In 1992, having Foxy Brown among us was incredible. She came with a group of pals to perform with us. At the time, we had no idea who she was. She wasn’t yet Foxy Brown. Her name was Inga, and she was a member of the band Rotten Candy. At the time, Mos Def was the host, and he presented her to the audience. She annihilated it. Mos rushed on stage at the conclusion of the show and asked her name. She was fourteen years old, direct from Brooklyn, and she didn’t play any games. We also saw Mos and Kweli perform for the first time. We welcomed Dead Prez to New York City for the first time with the support of Lord Jamar of Brand Nubians.
Another memorable occasion was bringing Eminem to New York City for the first time in 1996. That was an incredible evening. Fat Joe hosted the event, which included Big Pun, M.O.P., and a slew of other artists. While performing, one group called The Outsiders began yelling, “Yo, give it up for the white dude.” This youngster appears out of nowhere and starts destroying the stage. We ended up taking him on tour with us after he astonished everyone with how awesome he was.
During the tour, there was this one great night when he was playing with us at The House of Blues in Los Angeles, and Busta Rhymes was supposedly in the crowd watching him perform and losing his mind. Buss was apparently being watched by an intern from Interscope. The same guy obtained a demo tape from Eminem’s team and sent it to Interscope Records.
That, according to my understanding, was Jimmy Lovine’s first encounter with Eminem, and the rest is history. We’ve had some incredible experiences and moments. We took the Black Eyed Peas on tour in 1998, just before their meteoric rise. The premiere party for Bad Boy in 1993, which was hosted by Big and Puff, was another historic night. We’ve actually worked with the vast majority of well-known MCs. We still have a couple more to go, but our history has been really incredible.
What drew you to web3 in the first place, and what piqued your interest?
It was a fascinating internal discussion. It seemed as though an inner voice was speaking to me. I was a little concerned about what was going on in the globe around COVID and quarantine. I suffered a nervous breakdown because I had based my whole career on live events and film production.
The next idea was, “How can I get ahead of it?” What can I do to stay ahead of what might be the next pandemic? I did some study and developed a futurist mindset. With everything changing, that inner voice questioned how I would apply it to my profession. That’s what made me want to become a futurist.
I’ve always been early, but this has presented a dilemma because if you’re too early, you may miss out on the rewards when the industry and markets are ready. Instead of being overly early, I wanted to be more “on time.” My inner voice prompted me to imagine even farther ahead, like twenty years, so that you can completely comprehend what is about to happen.
So that you can prepare for it, and so that your community can prepare for it. After one internal meeting to discuss a possible NFT release, I concluded that this needed to be expanded into a broader community discussion. We began inviting additional individuals to this call, and the $BARS coin and the Lyricist Lounge DAO were born a year and five months later.
What do you want to achieve with LLDAO this year? What does the future hold for the next two years?
This year, we’re aiming to complete our Rap Sheet (whitepaper) and release at least two collections. A picture collection honoring our thirty-year history as well as our Backpackers NFT collection, which serves as a tool to engage the community. Another essential goal is to find a liquidity partner for our $BARS token so that we may proceed with caution.
The next two years will be spent beginning to establish our treasury and determining which projects we will distribute. The Lyricist Lounge TV program should be relaunched, and the Lyricist Lounge Volume III record should be released. We’d want to establish a Lyricist Lounge performing arts center in the future, complete with affordable housing for artists.
What kind of community member would be perfect for LLDAO? Why?
Someone who prioritizes the welfare of others. Someone who really cares about the artist. Someone who is concerned about the well-being of the whole hip-hop community… from artists to managers, producers, and everyone else who has contributed to the advancement of this culture. It isn’t someone who is just interested in the money or the alpha. It’s someone who wants to put alpha’s knowledge to good use in the community.
The alternative hasn’t worked out. We’ve come out of a predatory phase in the music business, when individuals were out to earn as much money as possible as rapidly as possible. Not ensuring that the artist is in good health. This is why it’s so important to find people who share our values so we can work together to achieve our objectives.
The non-web3 native audience may be intimidated by DAOs. How would LLDAO address the issue of onboarding and access?
This is a difficult task for all of us. As a web3 firm, your initial task is to enroll as many individuals as possible. Your second task, which follows a similar route, is to perform the unique thing that you do.
A DAO is a co-op that consists of a group of friends and family members who are all working toward the same aims. That’s the vibe we want people to get when they come in, so it seems accessible and like they can do it.
Web3 offers the possibility of reimagining systems, processes, and connections. What is LLDAO’s impact on hip-hop culture?
My ambition is for LLDAO and our treasury to become self-sustaining and self-sufficient ecosystems, which means I want to construct LLDAO and our treasury in such a manner that hip hop culture as a whole no longer has to “make deals” with predatory systems.
They may seek direct assistance from us or be onboarded into web3 so that they can do it themselves. The goal is to eliminate the necessity for these businesses that have taken advantage of us. The broader goal is to be able to take care of ourselves. What do we need now that we have the talent and the market?