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Commissioned by the hip-hop musician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, and owned by RocNation, the NFT recontextualizes the album's cover portrait and brings it to life with digital motion. The one-of-one piece is an inaugural collaboration for the duo, as neither has produced an NFT for sale before.
“Over the years, Jay has collected and supported my work, and so this collaboration is particularly fulfilling. With this NFT project, we jointly embrace the opportunity to further the conversation about how artists of different mediums contribute to a more inclusive society," said Adams. Jay's album Reasonable Doubt changed the game 25 years ago, and continues to influence so many of us. It tells the story of someone from Brooklyn occupying the urban space — a place that is as central to my own work as it is to his. My portraits aim to capture the sensibility, optimism and beauty of urban life, and in Jay's work I’ve found tremendous kinship.”
Heir to the Throne features a single-animated digital image that fuses Adam's visual identity with Reasonable Doubt's. Geometric forms, blocked colors, and multi-layered textures play with dimensions and surfaces, resulting in a cinematic visual translation of the album. Inspired by the two men's shared experience of urban life, including challenges and successes, the work emphasizes the relationship between success and a cigar with the stream of smoke creating a number "25" in honor of the album's monumental anniversary.
In addition to being available online for bidding, the digital piece is on view in Sotheby’s York Avenue Galleries through July 1, and virtually online. Patrons interested in bidding on the piece are also welcome to cast a bid in cryptocurrency (Ether and Bitcoin), which will be facilitated through Coinbase Commerce. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Shawn Carter Foundation—an organization aiding individuals in socioeconomic hardships to pursue further education at postsecondary institutions.
"It’s an extraordinary honor for Sotheby’s to present Heir to the Throne in celebration of the 25th anniversary
of Jay-Z’s debut masterpiece, Reasonable Doubt," said Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s Global Head of Science and Popular Culture. "It’s fitting that JAY-Z’s pioneering lyrical brilliance is commemorated through the iconic vision of acclaimed artist Derrick Adams in a bold new medium. The release of Heir to the Throne marks the continued influence of Reasonable Doubt and its deep legacy of cultural importance.”