From the Streets of Detroit to the Blockchain Pathways of the Future –

Written by Felice LaZae

In the early 90s, artist Tyree Guyton was ostracized for creating art in the dilapidated Heidelberg neighborhood of Detroit. People said he was a menace, defacing places that were otherwise being forgotten. But his art breathed life into the street’s empty houses that used to be homes, extracting their stories and displaying them for the world to see and remember in a colorful, expressionist, graffiti art playground. However, society, including Detroit’s mayor at the time Coleman Young, wanted to erase and demoralize what they didn’t understand by literally demolishing the homes he had turned into urban, environmental art exhibits. 

During the same time, a young musician by the name of James “J Dilla” Yancy was disrupting the world of hip-hop with a new lo-fi, sample-based production style that was often bootlegged and imitated. And now, both Guyton and Dilla’s work are going from being disruptive to celebrated, never to be destroyed or erased, on the blockchain.

When people mention crypto, Bitcoin, NFTs, and the Metaverse, there is usually one of two reactions – curiosity or repulsion. It’s a highly polarizing topic. On the one hand, those that are unfamiliar with the space associate it with wild stories of Bitcoin billionaires and jpegs of Apes selling for more than the average person earns in a year. “I don’t see the practical, real-world value,” they say. “How could numbers on a screen without anything backing it, ever be worth anything in the real world?” They say they need something tangible, something they can feel between their fingers like fiat money that is backed by a trusted entity – the government.

But, here’s the question to ask yourself – isn’t our fiat money mostly just numbers that we look at on a screen in our online banking accounts? How often do we actually deal with cash anymore? And when we do, what is actually backing that cash? Certainly, not gold and silver at this point. We’ve been over-printing and inflating our money to the point that the bubble is ready to burst.

So why is this blockchain so special and what does it have to do with our world economic systems and street artists from Detroit? Well, to understand this, we must go back to an almost mythical origin story about a person that no one has ever seen or even knows if they really exist – Satoshi Nakamoto.

In 2008, Nakamoto wrote a whitepaper that would change the world. The paper introduced a peer-to-peer, open-source, digital ledger that could permanently record and manage transactions without the need for a centralized governing system. Nakamoto called it the blockchain. Shortly thereafter, Nakamoto created the first coin called Bitcoin on this blockchain. No one knows who Nakamoto is. They might be an individual or a group of individuals, but their identity is as elusive as the permanence of transactions on the blockchain.

You may be thinking, what is so special about a digital ledger that permanently records transactions and can never be hacked or erased? The blockchain is a great system to transparently manage financial transactions and gives individuals the power to be the custodian of their own money.  But aside from financial transactions, there are so many other uses for this technology. 

Most people have heard of cryptocurrencies from Bitcoin to Ethereum, but where this technology really starts getting interesting is when it comes to non-fungible tokens – NFTs.

Non-fungible means that NFTs are unique and one of a kind unlike a fungible token like Bitcoin which can be traded for another Bitcoin. So basically, if you had a signed Michael Jordan rookie card, then that would be non-fungible or one-of-a-kind, while a US dollar bill is fungible because it can be traded for another dollar bill.

But still what’s so special about NFTs? First of all, let’s let go of the idea that NFTs are just jpegs on a screen. Yes, it started with the first image of a frog meme being created on Bitcoin known as rare Pepes, but that was just the beginning. What’s unique about NFTs is how they can function as a token with utility. The world will run on tokenization one day and NFTs will be the technology that powers these new forms of transactional relationships. You can use these tokens in so many ways from digital collectibles of art and music; to access tokens that can represent concert tickets; or keys that unlock gated digital content. They could even act as certificates of authenticity or receipts of sale for physical pieces of art or even property deeds. 

And what’s really important for artists, musicians, and content creators is that they can write royalties into their NFT smart contracts. So if someone resells a token from their digital collectible, they would automatically collect royalties. Imagine if an indie singer sold a digital collectible that gave access to one of their concerts – a digital concert ticket if you will.  And then imagine that that same singer goes on to become a cultural icon. One of those digital concert tickets might become a very valuable collector’s item because they are non-fungible, meaning uniquely identifiable. If the holder sells it, the artist could still collect money from that resale if they included royalties in their smart contract because all of the transactions would be permanently recorded on the blockchain.

One of the most beautiful things about the blockchain is that it is immutable and decentralized. Digital assets created on the blockchain cannot be censored or destroyed. This is truly the genius of Satoshi Nakamoto. In a sense, Nakamoto is an artist themself. They are essentially the Banksy of coding and their engineering of the blockchain is a technological masterpiece. 

This is where artists like Tyree Guyton and J Dilla come in. Guyton’s work on the streets of Detroit years ago could be torn down, censored, and destroyed. But on the blockchain, his work is going to be showcased permanently in a collection by Burble, a web3 entertainment studio with a mission to amplify iconic artists through transmedia storytelling.

Guyton and Dilla’s work embody the spirit of Detroit through the legendary Smokey Robinson as part of Burble’s 2023 slate of iconic collections and experiences coming to the blockchain. The first release on this slate is releasing this December 2022, as a 3-part series of collections and experiences featuring iconic hip hop producer and pioneer, J Dilla who is exemplified through the eyes of his mother, Ma Dukes.

Burble’s unique approach to creating immersive experiences for fans and audiences, brought them to reach out to the world-renowned artist, Desiree Kelly to collaborate on the first installment of this J Dilla web3 experience.  Kelly is known for bringing legendary figures from Aretha Franklin to Abraham Lincoln alive in murals that are bigger than life. Just as Kelly arrived at success in the traditional art world through passion and perseverance, so did J Dilla find success as a pioneer and innovator in the emerging world of hip-hop in the 90s. Both icons embody the entrepreneurial spirit of artists who are building new pathways to success in Web3.

From annual Dilla Day events to having musical compositions and various bodies of work on display in the world’s most prestigious museums, institutions, and galleries, without any doubt,  Detroit native, J Dilla, was and still is one of the most prolific and world-renowned architects of modern music.

His artistic gift impacted hip-hop and the world as a whole in an immeasurable way. Some of the most notable entertainers in history have credited him with influencing their style, and they continue to praise and honor his memory even years after his untimely passing. For example, acclaimed comedian and actor, Dave Chappelle, not once, but twice included a tribute to J Dilla’s “Workinonit” in the intro of his comedy specials for Netflix. Furthermore, Roots and Jimmy Fallon band leader, Questlove– who has won an Academy award– is currently working on a documentary to share J Dilla’s story with the world; he was even quoted as saying “J Dilla was our teacher”.

The J Dilla Legacy Collection is a love letter to his fans written from the perspective of the person who knew him best, his mother, Ma Dukes. By providing an immersive experience that leaves fans feeling inspired and connected to J Dilla’s music, the collection honors his legacy and celebrates the impact his artistry has had on hip-hop culture. The digital collection offers up not only stories and art, but also tangible memorabilia and experiences for diehard fans to enjoy – all while preserving J Dilla’s music and legacy forever.

@felicelazae I got to spend a day with J Dilla’s mom Ma Dukes collaborating with her and web3 entertainment studio, Burble on his Legacy Collection which includes limited edition artwork, a sneaker giveaway and more! Check the link in my bio. #hiphop #jdilla #jdillabeats #jdillachangedmylife #hiphopmusic ♬ Nonsense by Sabrina carpenter – sabrinasueme

This collection is an opportunity for fans to experience J Dilla’s story in a way that is only possible through Web3. Yes, the J Dilla collection has most certainly arrived and his legacy is officially kept alive through Ma Dukes’ unbreakable love and determination that not even the blockchain can match in strength.

The possibilities of web3 technology reach as far as the imagination can visualize. From art to finance, the utilization of blockchain technology is set to enhance our world in ways never before possible. One day, there will be no web2 and web3 – just the web. Just as we once transitioned from web1 to web2, the individuals that resisted those upgrades in technology soon saw that it was not so scary and those upgrades have now become a useful part of our daily life from email to streaming music. And so it will be the same with blockchain technology like digital collectibles, tokenization, and cryptocurrency. Humans often fear the unknown, but it is in the frontiers of the unknown that innovation and evolution occur. And just as J Dilla, Tyree Guyton, Smokey Robinson, and Desiree Kelly broke through barriers of innovation in art and music, they are doing it once again in Web3.

Burble is a bridge from traditional entertainment to the new frontiers of web3 by bringing the familiarity of classic, iconic artists and the art of storytelling to a space that doesn’t often highlight where we’ve come from but more so where we are going. However, it is when we bring our history and future together that we can learn, grow and build a better future and that is what Burble’s first release in partnership with Ma Dukes and her son, J Dilla’s legacy is all about.

Do you want to start your Web3 journey by collecting a digital collectible from The J Dilla Legacy Collection but you don’t know where to start? Download our free guide “How To Buy Your First Digital Collectible in Web3.” This guide shows you step-by-step how to set up your decentralized wallet, purchase ETH and buy your first digital collectible. Take your first steps into web3 today. Download our free guide HERE.


Burble is an entertainment studio that augments Web2 experiences with Web3 technology. From hosting immersive concert series in the Metaverse to digital collections with icons, Burble is at the forefront of entertainment in Web3. Learn more and get your first digital collectible from The J Dilla Legacy Collection at 


Felice LaZae is an accomplished producer, musician, and performer based in LA. With an impressive portfolio that includes artists such as The Killers and Pink to global brands like Airbnb, Avid, and Logitech, she has also graced the stage at iconic events such as Paris Fashion Week and Art Basel in Miami. Presently, LaZae serves as Director of Community Programming and Artist Relations at Burble. Learn more at

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