Universal Music Group (UMG) has officially enlisted music industry veterans Hit-Boy and James Fauntleroy to serve as co-executive producers and members of the “sonic creative team” for its Kingship digital group.
The Big Three record label unveiled these high-profile additions to Kingship via a formal release today. UMG debuted Kingship, which features characters from the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT project, back in November of 2021. Since then, the virtual “band” – which is specifically signed to UMG’s 10:22PM “next-gen label” – has appeared on limited-edition M&Ms and reportedly sold through a sizable non-fungible token collection.
(Certain enterprising fans are looking to resell the Kingship M&Ms sets at a massive profit on Ebay, but at the time of this writing, none of the astronomically priced listings seemed to have found buyers.)
Meanwhile, 35-year-old Hit-Boy (full name Chauncey Alexander Hollis Jr.) has produced tracks for well-known artists including Lil Wayne, DJ Khaled, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, Kanye West, Nas, and Drake, among an array of others. 38-year-old James Fauntleroy, for his part, has songwriting credits on works from the likes of Cardi B, Justin Timberlake, Jordin Sparks, Timbaland, and Kelly Clarkson, to name just some.
Now, Hit-Boy and Fauntleroy are poised to oversee “the evolution of the group’s music direction and sound,” according to Universal Music. The major label, which last week received the Ukraine Peace Prize, also made clear that the newest members of Kingship “will work with Arnell, the group’s Mutant DJ and Producer” – though the creative contributions of the latter, who’s not a real musician or person, remain to be seen.
Even so, Kingship’s music will collect streaming royalties in the same way that projects attributable to actual artists do so, and thanks to the musical talent of Hit-Boy and Fauntleroy, the NFT act’s tracks could make a commercial splash.
Addressing today’s announcement in a statement, Kingship creator (and former Sony Music and Warner Music higher-up) Celine Joshua said: “KINGSHIP’s journey is rooted in storytelling, experiences and music. I’m incredibly thankful that Hit-Boy and James Fauntleroy, two of the most influential and creative geniuses in the entire industry, are coming together to develop the music and sound for KINGSHIP.”
The four-time Grammy winner Fauntleroy added in a statement of his own: “It’s so exciting to be a part of something historical and ambitious. As a huge nerd, and music fanatic, I can’t wait to see what comes from the intersection of the web3 collectors/creatives and the entertainment creative community.”
Universal Music isn’t the only major label that’s taking steps to expand its presence in the virtual-artist and NFT spaces.
Columbia Records closed out August by filing a U.S. trademark application for NFT music and visual media, and Sony Music is continuing to invest in a digital K-pop sensation called APOKI, whose career ascent follows the abrupt demise of FN Meka.