Did A Tribe Called Quest sell albums as NFT? Group denies Royalty Exchange partnership

Taking to his Facebook, Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest called out a publication for running a misleading headline


                            Did A Tribe Called Quest sell albums as NFT? Group denies Royalty Exchange partnership
A Tribe Called Quest (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

One of the most iconic hip-hop groups A Tribe Called Quest was recently in the news for reportedly selling their first five albums in an NFT auction in partnership with Royalties Exchange. However, the news turned out to be false as the group slammed all the baseless rumors doing the rounds on the internet. A Tribe Called Quest member Ali Shaheed Muhammad took to his official Facebook account to slam all the reports.

The co-producer of the legendary rap group called out Billboard for running a misleading headline. The renowned publication on June 29 ran an article that stated: “Royalty Exchange has partnered with A Tribe Called Quest to auction off 1.5% share of the sound recording royalties from the hip-hop group’s first five studio albums.” They later changed the article, as revealed by Shaheed Muhammad. Speaking of NFT auction, public figures such as Jay-Z, The Weeknd, Azealia Banks and Mike Winkelmann recently made headlines for the same.
 
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Musicians Phife Dawg, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White of A Tribe Called Quest perform as Samsung Galaxy presents A Tribe Called Quest and Prince at SXSW on March 16, 2013, in Austin, Texas
(John Sciulli/Getty Images)

A Tribe Called Quest denies selling albums as NFT

The NFT auction which mentioned the group’s first five albums included 1990’s ‘People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm’, 1991’s ‘The Low End Theory’, 1993’s ‘Midnight Marauders’, 1996’s ‘Beats, Rhymes and Life’ and 1998’s ‘The Love Movement’. Taking to his Facebook, Muhammad started with “Not Frigging True”. He then cleared the air on the matter saying, “On June 29, 2021 Billboard wrote an article that stated, “Royalty Exchange has partnered with A Tribe Called Quest to auction off 1.5% share of the sound recording royalties from the hip-hop group’s first five studio albums.” At the time Billboard knew those words were not true but worded the story in a way to gain clicks. They have now changed the article. Other “journalistic” publications took the original newsfeed and ran with the misleading headline. No member of A Tribe Called Quest has entered into any partnership with Royalty Exchange. PERIOD!”

Royalty Exchange helps artists with funding and investors seeking catalogs which gives them the ability to raise money and fund their careers debt-free, and investors access to a new, high-yield asset class. The brand focuses on buying and selling royalty assets of any type, mostly music, where royalty owners can sell their future payments to investors as alternative assets.

He then continued with a sub-headline in the post that read, “Not For Tales.” The musician got nostalgic as he spoke about the group’s journey. “There’s so much of the journey I don’t talk about as I strive to live each day in the now. I let the art speak for the yesterday’s and prayers speak for any missteps and guides for the tomorrow. I will take a walk in the past today so the fans know what they are buying. In 1989 a dream unfolds. Two teenagers sign a 5 album recording contract with Jive Records. Q-Tip and I were represented by Ron Skoler and Ed Chalpin. Ed owned PPX Enterprises, google that ish. We had absolutely no affiliation with either of these gentlemen other than them representing us as our lawyer/“agent” in negotiating the deal with Jive.”

Phife Dawg, Q-Tip and Jarobi White of A Tribe Called Quest perform at Barclays Center on November 20, 2013, in New York City (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

The fight against PPX Enterprises

Muhammad continued with his elaborate post and recalled how they were determined not to be taken advantage of by PPX Enterprises. He shared, “PPX aka Ed Chalpin added a clause to our agreement stating they get paid a percentage of our recording fund EVERY time we commenced to record a new album. We did not discover this hidden clause until we commenced to record The Low End Theory. We disputed this clause. Neither Ed or Ron ever told us about this bulls**t language in the agreement. It was unwarranted and where I come from “crooked.” Ed sued us and he lost. He appealed the case. He was rich and had deep pockets to litigate. We however were not rich. We were kids with a dream, an album slowly selling and deeply in debt to our record company.”

He added, “We were determined to not to be taken advantage of by PPX Enterprises. We wanted to fight on. Jive offered to help us with our lack of capital to litigate the appeal however they required us to sign a sixth album with them. Without any other means to get this (do not use slanderous adjectives) entity out of our lives, we signed for the 6th album, added Phife to the contract and Jive made the PPX issue disappear or so we thought."

A Tribe Called Quest calls out Billboard

While ending his official statement, Shaheed called out Billboard. “It wasn’t until reading this incomplete article by Billboard on June 29, 2021 that I learned PPX Enterprises wasn’t entirely out of our business. Apparently PPX sold their share of a settlement they made with Jive Records to an individual whom entered into a partnership with Royalty Exchange. Be clear that is the NFT that was created and auctioned. 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. In the immortal words of Chris Lighty, “@billboard @complex @okayplayer #jazzisdead.”

Musicians Jarobi White, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest perform as Samsung Galaxy Sound Stage presents A Tribe Called Quest and Prince at SXSW on March 16, 2013, in Austin, Texas (John Sciulli/Getty Images)
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