An NFT of A Tribe Called Quest’s publishing royalties was sold at an auction last week. However, members of the legendary rap group, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Q-Tip, have denied having any involvement in the sale and claim the royalties were sold without their knowledge.
“No member of A Tribe Called Quest has entered into any partnership with Royalty Exchange,” Muhammad wrote in a lengthy statement on social media. “PERIOD!”
On June 29, it was initially reported that 1.5% of the royalties ATCQ’s first five studio albums were made into an NFT and sold at an auction by Royalty Exchange. The auction for the royalties was won by a bidder named Stephen F, who purchased the NFT at 40.191 ETH, the equivalent of $84,765, and marked the first-ever NFT of publishing royalties of a rap album.
According to Muhammad, the royalties were unknowingly stolen from them by Ed Chalpin, owner of PPX Enterprises, and Ron Skoler, who Tribe serviced to oversee their 1989 record deal with Jive Records.
However, Chalpin added a clause to the Jive contract that gave PPX 1.5% of the royalties on every album in the group’s five-album deal, which wasn’t discovered by Muhammad and company until the recording of their 1991 sophomore album, The Low End Theory. Following their discovery, the group entered litigation with Jive to erase the clause, which the group had believed they’d won prior to reports of the auctioning of their royalties as an NFT. PPX apparently sold their share of a settlement with Jive to someone in partnership with Royalty Exchange, hence the music royalty portal’s acquisition of the royalties.
“Had we known this percentage of our art was out there, we would have bought it directly from PPX Enterprises as it should have never been sold by Jive Records,” Muhammad wrote.
Group member Q-Tip also backed up Muhammad’s thoughts with a post on Twitter, adding “if you are hip hop publication and reported tribe is doing a NFT we aren’t and can you pls retract any story that says so? Thanks,” in a repost of a story reporting Muhammad’s denouncement of the auction.
https://t.co/DVymuVj5IC if you are hip hop publication and reported tribe is doing a NFT we aren’t and can you pls retract any story that says so? Thanks?????
— QTip (@QtipTheAbstract) July 6, 2021
According to an initial statement by Royalty Exchange, as part of the purchase, the winner of the auction will be due compensation every time a song from People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, The Low End Theory, Midnight Marauders, Beats Rhymes Life, and The Love Movement is “streamed, played on the radio, sold physically, sampled, or appear in TV/film/commercial placements.”
The original seller will also earn a percentage each time the ATCQ NFT is sold, making it one of the most groundbreaking publishing acquisitions to date. Having sold over 1,000 IP assets, and with over 500 inquiries from other creatives looking to dive into the NFT market, Royalty Exchange is revolutionary in nature, as it allows the winner of an auction to earn actual income, making the NFT an asset as opposed to a novelty.
Regarded as one of the greatest and most influential rap acts of all-time, A Tribe Called Quest, comprised of rappers Q-Tip, the late Phife Dwag, DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi reached acclaim throughout the ’90s, with each of their albums producing hit singles that would go on to become timeless anthems and cultural staples. The group most recently released their sixth and final album, We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, in 2016 in remembrance of Phife Dawg, who passed away on March 22, 2016, just months prior to the albums release. A new track from Phife Dawg, titled “French Kiss Deux,” was released this past May, which included a guest verse from late collaborator J Dilla’s younger brother, Illa J, and production from Canadian hip-hop duo Potatohead People, the Funky Diabetic.