Snoop Dogg. Jay Z. Trina. Nas. John Legend. Everybody who’s anybody in entertainmentseems to be getting into the NFT game. And if you’re a lover of art, a tech geek, a collector of all things digital, or someone looking to invest in something super-risky but very fascinating, the NFT playground might be the pandemic-induced escape you’ve always dreamed of. For those of you unfamiliar, NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are basically unique electronic elements or items that can’t be replaced with anything else.
For example, you can trade one bitcoin, which is “fungible,” for another and you’ll still have a bitcoin on your hands. This is not the case with an NFT, which is one-of-a-kind. It can be anything digital, from a work of art to a song, to artificial intelligence (or AI), to virtual experiences, to social media updates. For many brands or entertainers, the NFTs are connected to extensions of their brands and they’re curated for superfans or people who love innovations in visual arts.
Trina, for example, released an artwork set on Jan. 23, in collaboration with artist Zevi G. The artwork features a chrome-hued character wearing printed tops and sitting in meditation positions, and there will reportedly be a rollout of customizable gems. The orange and blue colors within the piece were included “in memory of her beloved mother and little brother” who passed away.
Jay-Z's NFT was a piece called "Heir to the Throne" and was created by renowned artist Derrick Adams. It was connected to the 25th anniversary of his legendary hip-hop debut album Reasonable Doubt and sold for $139,000 at auction.
Particularly intriguing is the fact that everyday Black creatives are getting their piece of the NFT pie, offering unique works and getting bids in the upper six and seven figures. Iris Nevins, an avid collector according to CNBC, launched an NFT studio to support Black artists and made $140,000 in less than a year. Another Black artist named Vakseen accepted a bid worth more than $18,000 in April 2021, for the first in a series of digital Michael Jordan paintings, according to CoinDesk.
And just like with anything else on the cusp of greatness, Black folk are not only riding the wave of NFTs, they're innovating and cultivating communities for potential success. Black Enterprise reports that sales of NFTs reached roughly $25 billion last year, and Black investors, entrepreneurs, and artists are boldly and strategically coming to the forefront, with new findings that show some 23% of Black Americans own cryptocurrency, (which is "more than double of the 11% of white Americans, and higher than the 17% of Hispanics.”)
Will NFTs be a saving grace for Black creatives to gain access to resources, exposure, and capital for expanding and elevating? Will NFTs become a dominating part of stock portfolios and brand negotiations? Maybe.
So, What’s the Big Deal About Making Money With NFTs?
Well, one-of-a-kind items obviously have values that can increase over time, like a rare piece of art, a limited-edition sneaker, or a collectible baseball card. NFTs are basically like those but are part of and supported by a cryptocurrency blockchain called Ethereum. (And to go back a step further: A blockchain is an open, distributed register that records transactions in digital code.)
The blockchain hosts the ownership rights, and we all know what happens when you actually own something, especially if it’s rare, it is attached to a major news event, celebrity, or popular community, and has the potential to impact the creative world in huge ways. You then hold the key to offering something of great perceived value to the highest bidder (or keeping it for yourself, just to have bragging rights and support the works of artists and creatives you love.)
Still don't see the big deal? Well, take hip-hop icon Nas, who recently partnered with a platform called Royal to sell his streaming royalty rights to tracks, “Ultra Black” and “Rare." (The offering actually crashed the site after only a few days of launch.) He's also working with DJ Florian Picasso (yes of that artist's lineage) for a backing track for a collection of NFTs. And who doesn't love anything that Nas puts his hands on? The visuals alone might make even the biggest Nas hater raise an eyebrow in wonder.
What’s With the Hype Around NFTs?
Much of the conversation around NFTs centers on digital art, but fascination—and investments—have spanned past that. It’s truly the cool factor and the allure of the collectors’ rush that can somewhat be likened to the sneakerheads who revel at owning the last pair of Js that Jordan released while still in the league. Artists and musicians are especially keen on NFTs since, again, there’s the option to exclusively own or sell a one-of-a-kind work that can exponentially increase in value over time. Also, there’s a feature where the owner of the NFT gets paid a percentage each time it’s sold or transferred.
Oh, and there’s also the actual money factor. For example, someone paid $390,000 for a 50-second video by music artist Grimes. Another paid $6.6 million for a video by digital artist Beepie, and one of his pieces was auctioned at Christie’s. There was the “Gucci Ghost,” which was being sold for more than $3,500. Another teenager has reportedly amassed a multimillion NFT collection in just one year. Another Snoop enthusiast reportedly paid more than $450,000 to be his "virtual neighbor" in an NFT. (And just remember, these dollar amounts reflect the "equivalent" of what was really paid in cryptocurrency. We cover more about that below.)
How Can I Create or Invest in an NFT?
There are marketplaces, or what Motley Fool, a leading personal finance platform, called “the Amazon of the NFT world,” that facilitate the selling and buying of NFTs. (Here’s a link to a few of said marketplaces.) According to Motley, once you’ve created a digital file (work of art, graphic, or another digital item), you must choose a marketplace, “mint” the item, and upload the file. You can also, depending on the marketplace you’ve chosen, select the appropriate royalty options (in order to collect fees over time.) Once “minted,” the item can be listed for sale, and you can set certain details into play such as what types of cryptocurrencies can be used for payment and how long the item will be available for auction.
And, of course, there are fees associated with transactions, just like when you trade stocks and bonds or you cash out that 401K. You also must be the proven owner of the copyright for whatever you’re selling.
If you’re simply interested in buying an NFT, you’d research the same aforementioned marketplaces (CNBC reports that OpenSea is a “big one”), and buy them via one of those platforms. You’ll need a “wallet,” which can be downloaded to your computer or phone just like any other app. The “wallet” stores your assets and protects access to them. Typically, wallets are created once you sign up for a particular marketplace, and more often than not, you can use the same wallet for multiple marketplaces.
What Are the Critics Saying About NFTs? What Are the Implications?
Of course, there are critics and concerns about NFTs, especially with their seemingly growing popularity. Writer Luke Savage called them outright crap. "And, like most forms of bullshit in America — think WeWork, the Fyre Festival, or any number of other venture capital-hatched disruption rackets — they’ve come packaged in a phony populist language of community and an even phonier rhetoric of innovation," he added via Jacobin. Savage indicates that “at best” NFTs can be understood as “speculative investments in which a privileged few can wring money from something of no redeeming social benefit.”
There are also environmental concerns since, according toTime magazine, the digital process consumes energy. In fact, the global banking industry is cited as consuming “about 263.72 Terawatt hours per year in energy.” Also, the creation of blockchain, i.e. “mining” requires more than a bit of labor, making it “energy-intensive.” (To put the impact in more everyday terms, this particular Joanie Lemercier NFT art “drop,” reportedly used the equivalent of two years of energy in its production and release.)
These issues are especially important, especially as they relate to minority communities, considering the wealth gap, the energy insecurities and deficiencies in energy access in Black and Brown communities, and the disproportionate economic and quality-of-life impact global warming has on those communities. Many investors or users of color who are riding the NFT wave might want to take these facts into consideration, do more research, and act accordingly.
Will you be buying and selling your own collections of Black art, tweets, songs, buttons, or GIFs for Black empowerment through NFTs—building communities of wealth, connection, and creativity? Well, if you do, please be sure that, as with any investment, you do your research, consult a financial advisor or expert, and proceed with educated caution. For the culture.
Featured image by Luis Alvarez/Getty Images
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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