Forget pivots to Jersey and re-pivots back to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. MTV’s Video Music Awards is hedging its bets on a new savior: NFTs. Last night, megawatt rappers Snoop Dogg and Eminem jointly performed at the show…as their Bored Ape Yacht Club digital avatars.
Put on every year by MTV, the VMAs is basically the Oscars for music videos, though it’s since branched into allocating awards more generally for pop music. Amid steadily declining viewership, producers have struggled in recent years to bring the show back to its former prominence. For the first time in the show’s history, this year, MTV introduced a “best metaverse” category. Nominees for the inaugural showing of the category include:
- Blackpink, for a collaboration with PUBG Mobile
- Ariana Grande, for a collaboration with Fortnite
- BTS, for a collaboration with Minecraft and YouTube
- Charli XCX, for a collaboration with Roblox
- Twenty One Pilots, for a collaboration with Roblox
- Justin Bieber, for a collaboration with virtual concert platform Wave
Blackpink walked away with the prize. That the category exists in the first place is a mark of how rapidly NFTs and the metaverse have attained cultural saturation. But the show also literally put a metaverse on the center stage. During last night’s show, Snoop Dogg and Eminem performed a version of their song, “From the D 2 the LBC.”
The two previously appeared as these characters in the song’s official video, released this past June. Last night’s showing kicked off with a brief sketch of the duo getting really, really high—so high they jointly conjure another realm with their minds. (Marijuana’s psychoactive effects have not been proven to cause hallucinations to this degree.) Here’s the video:
Outside of the NFT diehard, who’ve gained a reputation for uncritically praising anything in this realm, people have bashed the performance for coming off as low-quality, even phoned in. “Not gonna lie; I didn’t think an NFT performance could be good,” one person said. “And I was absolutely right; this is fucking terrible.” Others likened the effect that transformed the stars into the apes they own to bad Instagram filters or other shoddy augmented reality tech. (Writer commentary: For sure, the performance is certainly nothing on the level of Fortnite’s epic Ariana Grande or Dillon Francis concerts.) “I wish we got to see more of Eminem and Snoop without the cartoon effects,” one person lamented in the YouTube comments.
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It’s not just Snoop Dogg and Eminem who are fully on board with Bored Ape Yacht Club. The collective in particular seems to have an irresistible allure for A-listers whose heydays wrapped up more than a decade ago.
Hotelier heiress Paris Hilton—arguably the person most single-handedly responsible for our modern-day concept of fame—debuted her Bored Ape NFT on The Tonight Show this winter. (Host Jimmy Fallon is also into NFTs.) Rapper and producer Timbaland is a full-on partner with Bored Ape Yacht Club. And actor Seth Green famously had his Bored Ape stolen earlier this year. He reportedly paid the equivalent of $260,000 to get it back. The NFT is now set to “star” in Green’s forthcoming animated show White Horse Tavern.