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Perry: “I said … ‘I want Snoop to do a verse on this song.’ ” Photo courtesy of Salvador Luna.

As well as being one of the more erudite rhyme masons in the local hip-hop scene, over the last few years rapper Clay Perry has displayed a business acumen that just might top his lyrical keenness. Last year, he was able to use a high-level comprehension of social media algorithms to garner literally millions of views of the video for his toke-and-cruise anthem “Roll N’ Ride.” As a result, he now stands as one of the few local artists outside of Leon Bridges to have a verified account on Facebook. That “blue checkmark” command of social media has now also helped land him the biggest guest feature of his career. On Tue., April 20 (certainly no coincidence for the herb-friendly MC), Perry will drop “Dogg,” his latest single, which features a verse from one of the biggest names in hip-hop history, Snoop Dogg.

Though the new track boasts a name so big even your grandma would recognize it, Perry halts any confusion or assumptions as to how the new track has come about.

“I’m honest when people ask me about it,” he said about the unlikely pairing. “No, I’ve never met him. I don’t know Snoop, but I definitely know people who know him. This thing was all because of Mr. Lee.”

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Mr. Lee (2Pac, Scarface, Paul Wall) is the famed Houston producer and beatmaker who shepherded the Snoop feature on Perry’s track.

“I remember being in the studio when we were working on ‘Roll N’ Ride,’ ” Perry recalled, “and I said to [Dallas producer] Flowman, ‘I want Snoop to do a verse on this song.’ He just kinda looked at me and politely nodded like, ‘Yeah, OK. Sure, man.’ But I knew I could make it happen, so I just set out to figure out how or who could help me.”

Through networking on Twitter, Perry struck up a relationship with Lee, and the two decided to work together on a track. As well as lending his own lauded reputation as a producer, Lee helped realize Perry’s ambitious goal by facilitating the Snoop verse.

Perhaps more surprising than Snoop’s appearance is how Perry has decided to release the single. The track will be available only in a limited run via the NFT platform Rarible.

Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are, in the simplest terms, block chain-verified digital assets — a novel tech-based collectible of sorts that has just recently gained some prominence, mostly associated with the NBA’s new digital trading card platform Top Shot. On Top Shot, player “moments” — a digital highlight clip of a particular play, for example — are bought and sold much like physical trading cards have been for decades. Sold in “packs” for around $9, inexplicably, some individual moments are already reselling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The novel tech space is certainly still in its infancy and does require a bit of mental cardio from non-cryptocurrency aficionado-types to comprehend its abstract cost/value ratios, but Perry sees it as the future and as a revolution of the music industry.

“Say you mint 1,000 versions of a song,” he explained, “and you sell them for $10 apiece. You sell all of them, and you just made $10,000. Plus, if anyone decides to resell the mint, you get 10% of the price every time one is sold. That’s real money in your pocket. There’s no label, no middleman. It’s all you.”

It might be easy to see some inherent risk in secluding the biggest track of an artist’s career to a finite number of copies distributed via a niche (and largely unknown) platform, and Perry concedes the point. But he has faith that the gamble is going to pay off. With his recent ascension on BitClout, a site that works as a sort of stock exchange for celebs and influencers in which investors put their money into the brand/name value of individuals as opposed to shares of stock, he has reason to believe there’s a market for his digital assets. The value of his “coins” on the platform is currently north of $13,000, and he’s been on the site for only a couple of weeks.

“I see NFT as a no-brainer,” he said. “The more I dive into this community, the more opportunity I see. Just yesterday I was talking with a developer from Google who’s building an app for music artists, and he wanted my opinion on things I thought would be useful. The more I get into NFT, the doors are just getting bigger, and they’re opening faster and faster.”

As of this writing, Perry is still undecided on the price and the number of “mints” he will release for “Dogg.” He did a trial run with his last single “Gateway” a few months ago, and versions of that song are selling on Rarible for $60 a piece. He’s trying to thread the needle between a price point that is financially worthwhile while still giving the purchasers maximum “utility” for their investment.

He said the research he’s been doing on the potential for NFT to transform the music industry — with the benefits weighted to the artist like never before — has completely changed his outlook going forward.

“This whole thing could flame out,” he concedes. “I’m realistic about that possibility, but this thing has completely changed my feelings on being an artist. I feel appreciated as an artist and valued in a way I never have. I see it as a monster that’s just woken up and can’t be put back to sleep.”

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