Ja Rule has made a career of creating music the world wanted to hear. Now, he’s spearheading a new project aimed at changing how we view what we love to see.
The hip-hop entrepreneur and his business partner, Herb Rice co-founded The Painted House and its first NFT art collection Black is Beautiful, which began minting on July 14. Black is Beautiful is a stunning depiction of the raw emotions of Black Americans navigating both the joys and struggles of everyday life in America.
The concept is innovative, and on par with where technology is heading so it makes perfect sense that the smart businessman launched the project. But what he didn’t realize was he was involved in web3 long before it became a trend. “I’ve always been into collecting memorabilia—celebrity-autographed items, sports trading cards, all of that,” Ja Rule shared with Essence. “So I really got into it digital trading cards, that encapsulated important sports moments. Little did I know, until my business partner pointed it to me years ago, that these were NFTs that I was purchasing all this time.”
He said there was a natural progression from being a casual early adopter to wanting to gain ownership in the space, but in a way that felt authentic to him: through artwork.”
“I’ve always loved art—I have pieces lining all of the walls of house, much to my wife’s dismay,” he said jokingly. “The Painted House really is a manifestation of what I am really passionate about, beautiful things and technology.”
In partnership with House of First, Black is Beautiful features 1,000 unique, one-of-one collectible NFTs that highlight the work of illustrator Nick Davis. It’s described as an amalgamation “the raw emotions Black Americans navigate everyday in America.”
Ja Rule also shared that as a demonstration to his commitment to Black education, the Painted House has partnered with select HBCUs to empower the next generation of creative entrepreneurs. According to a news release, The Painted House will donate 10 percent of primary sales to five HBCUs: Jackson State University, Morgan State University, Hampton University, Spelman College, and Morehouse College.
“This is only the beginning…we are definitely aiming to do more in the but we wanted to prioritize a partnership with these institutions out the gate because they are pillars of our communities,” Ja Rule said. “It’s all about education for me. I want our kids to be proud to go to HBCUs. I want Fortune 500 companies to clamor to get those kids at HBCUs because they’re the cream of the crop, and that comes with funding. So is it a big donation that we’re giving out? No, it’s not a great big donation, but it’s the start of many donations.”
The platform was launched alongside notable figures in entertainment, business and sports including impressive Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat Center, NBA All-Star, and Philanthropist); Ashanti (Grammy Award Winning Singer / Songwriter); Baron Davis (Two-time NBA All-Star, Serial-Entrepreneur, and Investor); Shira Lazar (Emmy Nominated Host, Actress, Writer & Blogger); Tanya Sam (Tech Investor, Entrepreneur, and Media Personality); Manouschka Gurrier (Celebrity Chef); Nely Galan (Latina Media Dynamo, Best-Selling Author & Women’s Empowerment Advocate) and more.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve done with this,” Ja Rule said. “It’s time to change the way we view art and appreciate it through the future’s lens.”