A Tribe Called Quest looked to be the latest musicians aboard the NFT craze when Royalty Exchange announced last week an NFT of sound-recording royalties for the first five albums by the experimental rap group. The NFT grants the owner 1.5 percent of the royalties and sold for 40.191 ethereum, or close to $85,000, on July 1. Now, Tribe DJ and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad is blasting the sale, specifically taking issue with framing it as a partnership between Tribe and Royalty Exchange, as Billboard initially did in a since-updated story. “Not Frigging True,” he began a July 4 Facebook post, playing off NFT, which stands for non-fungible token. “No member of A Tribe Called Quest has entered into any partnership with Royalty Exchange. PERIOD!” he added.
Muhammad claimed that the 1.5 percent of sound-recording royalties on auction was a portion of the group’s royalties formerly owned by PPX Enterprises and Ed Chalpin, who represented A Tribe Called Quest at Jive Records; part of this, he says, was eventually sold to someone working with Royalty Exchange. “Be clear that is the NFT that was created and auctioned,” Muhammad wrote. “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.” Quoting the group’s former manager, Muhammad added, “In the immortal words of Chris Lighty, ‘fuckery.’”
Update, 3:10 p.m.: Tribe rapper Q-Tip confirmed Muhammad’s statement, tweeting on July 6 to ask publications to retract stories saying A Tribe Called Quest sold an NFT, along with a link to a story on Muhammad’s comments.