Pop music and money have always been closely intertwined, especially since the former, done right, can lead to the latter in massive quantities. From “Money” to “All About the Benjamins,” there's a long tradition of making music that's about, well, money, Benjamins, dollar dollar bills, Euros, Yen, ducats—all kinds of currency. With the exception of weird fantasy epics and allegorical protest songs about capitalism, however, music about money tends to usually be about real forms of money.
There's some new money in town, though, and it's the hottest thing since Beanie Babies. For those of you who have been living under a rock, it's called Bitcoin, and it has a lot of ardent fans who are convinced it's the answer to many of our global economic woes. Some of these fans are so ardent, they've recorded music about Bitcoin, the same way, say, T.I. and Young Thug recently made a song "About the Money." Is this music any good? I wanted to know, so I tracked down as much Bitcoin music as I could and listened to it all.
To understand the merits of various songs about Bitcoin, though, it's probably important to understand a little bit about how Bitcoin works and why it inspires both so much devotion and so much mockery. Bitcoin is a digital cryptocurrency, which, at the time of this writing, is trading for around $650 per Bitcoin, or BTC. There are a finite amount of Bitcoins out there, and new ones are generated through a process of “mining”: Essentially, computers compete to solve an extremely complicated mathematical puzzle and unlock the next “block,” which contains a record of recent transactions, a bunch of bitcoins, and a puzzle that launches the next block. Because of the way it's designed, Bitcoin is anonymous (and therefore impossible to track), immune to duplicate transactions, and completely outside of any government regulation.
Animation via Zhou Tonged on YouTube
Due to these qualities, it's popular among people trading illicit goods (its main use for years was on the black market exchange Silk Road) and among people who don't trust the government, particularly those who are convinced of an impending global economic collapse triggered by hyperinflantion due to the use of fiat currency (a.k.a. regular money that isn't tied to an actual object, like gold). Due to these qualities, Bitcoin also has a reputation of being an obsession of Libertarian message board nerds who have a complete misunderstanding of both economics and overall human society. It tends to get mocked due to the extreme volatility of Bitcoin's real world value. Are these critiques warranted? You listen to these songs and tell me. To improve comprehension, here's a short glossary of key terms:
Satoshi Nakamoto: The pseudonym of the anonymous figure who pioneered Bitcoin and coded the original algorithm, who is regarded by some (based on these songs at least), as a bit of a minor deity.
Block chain: The chain of officially discovered blocks and, thus, the official record of all transactions. Occasionally, the block chain might split into different paths, causing a fork, which eventually must get resolved back into one official block chain to avoid duplicate transactions.
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Screengrab via Laura Saggers/YouTube