R&B Icon and Web3 Pioneer Monifah Talks Artist Empowerment In EQ Twitter Spaces
Who’s gonna make sure we all really make it?
When you see the #WAGMI hashtag on social media, what does it mean to you? The popular phrase, an acronym for “We’re All Gonna Make It,” sums up the optimistic spirit that drives the Web3 movement at its best. Not to spread #FUD, but did you ever ask yourself: Who exactly is “We”?
Put another way: where is the space for women and people of color in a crypto and Web3 space that’s seemingly dominated by “tech bros”?
Just ask Monifah, one of the powerful Black female voices of the 1990s who defined “urban pop” along with Mary J Blige, Brandy, and Monica. Monifah is one of the first artists to join the EQ Exchange community. This spring she will be minting her first music NFT with EQ, the eco-friendly Web3 artist empowerment platform affectionately known as “The Great Equalizer.” Along with other artists on the EQ platform, Monifah describes her upcoming release as a “Mutual Exchange of Gifts” (or “MEG”) between the artist and her supporters.
Last night Monifah was the guest of honor at EQ’s biweekly Twitter Spaces meet-up, where she dropped some gems for anybody who’s wondering why this iconic ’90s recording artist is now leading the charge for female artists of color in crypto and Web3. For her, the bottom line is artist empowerment—and bringing her supporters along on the journey. Fittingly enough for a Valentine’s Day convo, her “MEG” is all about sharing the love with fans. In case you missed the action last night, we’ve got you covered:
“As an artist I have been ahead of my time more than a few times,” Monifah revealed during herin-depth chat with Ladi, EQ’s head of social media. “As an R&B artist I had a crossover hit called ‘Touch It’ that just exploded everywhere and is still very much alive to this day. That baby will be 25 years old this year. It was edgy, it was sexy, empowering. Standing in the strength of our female sexuality and just not being afraid to share that and show that and have fun. Somebody recently said that me and Adina Howard were the first to do sexy, soulful ‘WAP’ music.”
Never one to be pigeon-holed into any genre, Monifah has always maintained that music is music, and should be free of all restrictions, whether genre- or race-based. “Most of the time it’s difficult for R&B and soul artists to cross over,” said Monifah, who counts Janet Jackson as one of her biggest fans. “I just don’t understand what that [crossover] is… It’s easy for other people to come into our genre, and it’s very difficult for us to get our just due when our music is more broad and is received by a broader audience.”
Empowering herself to make exactly what her heart inspires her to make, and sharing the love with her supporters by rewarding them—both financially and with unique experiences, artwork, and access—is what the “Mutual Exchange of Gifts” is all about. “Doing this NFT is gonna afford me the ability to do whatever I want musically,” says Monifah. “To do the music I love and allow people to enjoy it—whomever, all across the globe. This has infinite possibilities!”
Monifah is the headlining artist for the first wave of releases from EQ, a new Web3 platform that empowers musicians while rewarding their supporters — all while healing the planet’s ecosystem. Built on CELO, the world’s first carbon negative blockchain, EQ is also one of the few female-founded Web 3 companies. Under the leadership of founder and CEO Janice Taylor, EQ offers fair, transparent business terms with the goal of championing creatives and building a sustainable culture of inclusiveness and financial independence. EQ will be kicking off next month with an all-female lineup of artists, headlined by Monifah. “When I was introduced to EQ Exchange,” Monifah recalls, “it was the perfect alignment of what I want to see happen with my music and the digital Web3 space.”
Last night’s Twitter Space fell on Valentine’s Day and it was full of love! Love for music, the arts, the tech, for artists, and definitely love for the fans. The brilliant and beautiful diva, Monifah, is trail-blazing a path into Web3 for artists and music lovers. Twitter, please make the “gem” emoji available as a reaction on Twitter Space. There were plenty of rare insights dropped in last night’s talk with Monifah and special guests like the legendary Grammy-winning “turntable whisperer” DJ Scratch.
Both Monifah and Scratch admit that it’s perfectly natural to be intimidated by this new and fast-evolving technology. “A lot of my peers are put off by the new tech,” says Monifah, who understands the desire to “stay safe economically.” But when the old economic system lets you down, it may be time to try something new. Monifah hopes to encourage more women and people of color to ask questions, educate themselves, and take advantage of the opportunities that exist on this exciting new tech frontier. With that in mind, last night’s Twitter Spaces was the start of an educational campaign as Monifah lays out the “Blueprint” to demystify Web3 and make sure her fans feel comfortable exploring the space.
A Message from Monifah: “A Journey for Us”
With more established businesses now making their way into the Web3 space (did you happen to notice the crypto ads during this weekend’s SuperBowl broadcast?) it’s time to handle our own business while we still can. Here at EQ Exchange we don’t recommend or advise. We educate, and point you in a direction so you can Do Your Own Research (DYOR). Your decisions are your own, and empowerment comes free—for you and generations to come. “For those hearing about NFTs for the first time here in this space…” says Ladi, EQ’s hostess with the mostest. “Welcome!”
At the end of the day the Mutual Exchange of Gifts is not just about the money. It is about the culture. The music. The people. The environment. “I will not be leaving you guys in the dust to figure it out,” says Monifah. “In partnership, in connection with EQ, we’re going to walk you through the process. So you can be comfortable to participate and own an NFT. Specifically, mine. You’ll be confident going forward!”
Now is the perfect time to start educating yourself about the nascent NFT space. Plenty of people are getting into Web3 already. Now is the time to get the right people in. “I’m an OG and I’m also learning and understanding and have a grasp for the new new,” says Monifah. “I have a lot of reverence for the OG way—I don’t like to call it ‘old school.’ And I also know a lot of my peers are put off by the technology. But the Web3 space is going to be huge as far as how we do our money and our banking. It’s been very important to me to share the information even before deciding to delve into doing music NFTs.
“I just wanna give the information. I don’t want us to bury our heads in the sand and miss out.” —Monifah
During the Feb 14 Twitter Spaces chat, Monifah fans came through to recognize and reminisce, to show love and to learn some of Mo’s favorite “OG” artists, ranging from Teena Marie to Luther Vandross, Phyllis Hyman to Whitney Houston. Paradoxically, one of the benefits of NFT technology is the ability to bring back the bygone days when fans could collect an artist’s records, read their liner notes, and feel a true sense of connection that streaming doesn’t allow.
“NFTs will take us right back to that place and for generations to come,” Monifah states boldly. “Artists are passed down from generation to generation, evoking memories and nostalgia... Music NFTs are going to do to streaming what streaming did to the record labels!”
In the midst of the excitement, a second guest of honor made a surprise appearance, attracted by Mo’s brilliance: the legendary DJ Scratch. Aside from his impressive resume (from winning countless DJ battles to producing gold and platinum records), DJ Scratch is also a true friend. “A big brother and a mentor of mine,” says June Archer, Monifah’s manager. As a mentor of mentors, Scratch is not shy to speak his mind about the current state of the music industry, and the tech that is pushing it forward.
“We’ve been taken advantage of by these streaming companies,” says Scratch. “It takes $500,000 to make an album but if you put it on streams you’ll never make $500,000. By the time you have to do the next album you still won’t have enough money because you haven’t recouped from the first album. It’s like a rabbit hole of failures that you’re set up for.”
That’s why people like Mo are leading the way and trying new things, building relationships and business partnerships directly with their fanbase. “What they support will have value over time,” she says. “It’s about getting that connection we used to have—full ownership on both ends.”
“A lot of artists, they forget that this money doesn’t come from out of nowhere,” says Scratch. “It’s the people. I always want to say ‘thank you.’ Shit, ya’ll put my children through college.” Truth follows truth as Monifah shines light to DJ’s words, “This is why NFTs make sense. We can share with our fans… and have it last generations.”