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Ja Rule & Herb Rice Launch NFT ‘Next Level’ Black Is Beautiful Collection To Benefit HBCUs

Ja Rule has already pledged a portion of his NFT sales to HBCUs, but a new partnership with his longtime friend takes things a step further. Learn more in Darlene Aderoju’s story on Billboard.

Ja Rule and herb rice (Photo credit: Holla)

“We want this brand new company to educate people of color about NFTs, cryptocurrency, blockchain and the whole space,” Ja Rule told Billboard.

Ja Rule and Herb Rice, longtime friends and business partners, co-founded The Painted House and launched its first NFT collection, Black Is Beautiful, with a charitable component directly benefiting historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

“The Painted House is a passion of Ja and I,” says Rice Billboard of the new company in collaboration with the NFT launch platform, House of First. “We entered the Web3 NFT space a year ago after first attending the annual NFT NYC. It was warm and social, but there were no people of color. We wanted to attract more people of color in space – so we started an investment group called Brotherhood Dow, for people who wanted to start buying and selling NFTs, in a comfortable setting where family and friends invest and get to know each other with Web3 and cryptocurrency…we wanted to reconcile that with more black creatives coming into the Web3 space.

Rice says that after reconnecting with House of First founder Zeev Klein, he and Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper Ja Rule “agreed it was an amazing idea and started The Painted House.”

Among the emerging black artists who make up The Painted House is Nick Davis, who created the first collection, Black Is Beautiful – which contains 1,000 unique collectible NFTs that showcase the depth of emotion, faith, style and resilience while embracing pop culture. in some works. Having already sold “80% of the collection,” according to Ja Rule, The Painted House will donate 10% of primary sales from the inaugural collection to five HBCUs: Jackson State University, Morgan State University, Hampton University, Spelman College and Morehouse College. .

“We want this brand new company to educate people of color about NFTs, cryptocurrency, blockchain and the whole space,” Ja Rule said. Billboard. “The Painted House is like our baby and our way of introducing color artists into the NFT realm. It’s not easy to create generative art like NFTs because you have to explain why one might be rarer than the other by having a specific trait – like lasers, which is unique to NFTs – while creating [traditional] art is often a feeling or a passion that you have.

And speaking specifically on Black Is Beautiful, he details: “What we did with Nick’s project is next level. It’s quite rare for artists to do one-of-ones, so we took on this challenge. That’s what our Painted House is all about, and that’s where we’ll hang our hats on engaging, representing, and advancing our culture and community.

“I see myself in this art,” explains Ja Rule, “as the Black Stewie, because I will always be a kid at heart with a fun, free-flowing, bright spirit.”

For Rice, there is a deeply personal connection to the Black Is Beautiful collection, which dates back to her childhood. “One afternoon, Ja texted me and said, ‘What do you think of this guy?’ “, he recalls. “It was Nick’s Instagram page. For the next hour and a half, I looked at every photo he posted. What captivated me about Nick was that it was art black and shameless.

“Growing up I was always teased about my complexion so I wasn’t safe and comfortable until one day in fourth or fifth grade I came home crying and my grandmother saw me,” he continues. “She put her hands on my cheeks and said, ‘You look beautiful and handsome. Your dark skin is beautiful. You can be anything you want. It touched me in ways you can’t imagine, and I gained confidence in my skin… When I saw Nick’s art, it immediately made me think of that time as a child and I thought: ‘I need the world to see this.’ It became my passion to bring this to life.

Ja Rule says the artwork shows “joy, struggle and passion. These are our emotions. And for the kids who haven’t found their strength yet, it lets people know that your dark skin should be your superpower and you should lead with it.

And the proud dad, whose daughter attended HBCU Hampton University, is happy The Painted House is donating higher education funding for black students. “Education is the #1 solution to some of our community’s problems,” says Rule Billboard. “The other is funding, and with those two things, we can help our community grow abundantly. We want to be a spark for our kids to attend HBCUs. Let’s get our young black men, who make up 80% from the NFL and NBA, attend HBCUs – so they will be your alma maters you send money to, and the kids and scouts will follow in your footsteps.

As part of The Painted House launch, Ja Rule and Rice orchestrated a group of Black NFT artists to recreate the iconic “A Great Day in Harlem” photo in which jazz greats including Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie, appeared at the famous New York brownstone on E 126th Street in Harlem in 1958.

“Physical art that you can touch, music as an art form, touches you,” says Ja Rule before explaining the importance of recreating the photo, which he credits to Manouschka Guerrier for the organization . “When you look at the original photo and what it meant, it was about young rebel pioneers leading the way and showing the world, ‘We are here and this is something to pay attention to.’ Fast forward to us recreating the photo for the hip-hop community [in 1998], of a rebellious new art form of music that everyone cared about, and now we’re the #1 genre. It was the same energy then. And now fast forward to the big day of Web3. We say, ‘You’re going to see the art through our eyes and our vision and you can’t control it.’ It’s a special time in art, Web3, hip-hop and jazz.

Next, Ja Rule reveals, “When we sell this NFT, which we are sailing to, I will release new songs and everyone who holds a Black Is Beautiful NFT will receive the new music exclusively. It’s funny. The beauty of The Painted House is that you also get benefits.

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