Skip to content Skip to footer

A life after ball: Julian Aiken dishes a powerful and promising outlook

Life after ball… Julian Aiken, was prepared for that moment when the shot clock ran out on his athletic career. He found a way to create his own lane while still doing what he loves.

There is a lot that goes into succeeding as an athlete at the next level.  Not only do you need to be blessed with physical talent but you need to have a good work ethic. And don’t forget you need to perform!

It takes hours of dedication and developing lots of mental toughness as you will need to persevere through many challenges and overcome adversity.  You need to be willing to make the necessary sacrifices in order to be a master of your craft.  Many athletes are fully engulfed in this way of life. 

There’s always more to life after ball

But eventually, every athlete will reach their time.  Some sooner than others. Unfortunately many do not know how to deal with life after ball or know what to do when it happens.  Coaches provide mentorship and having teammates creates a brotherhood you can’t replicate anywhere else.

This is a problem many athletes deal with once the final buzzer sounds. It’s all about how you take those lessons learned from being an athlete and apply them to a new passion.

“Being a former athlete, most of us dedicated our entire childhood & teenage years to the respective sports that we play. Our identity as we know it is heavily tied into our athletic success, which can be extremely hard to walk away from. Many athletes even describe retirement as feeling though a part of them has died once the ball stops bouncing. “

– Julian Aiken
julian aiken young

Keeping the dream alive

The ball may stop bouncing, but the days will continue to keep passing.  Julian was 18 years old when he had a moment of realization that in the grand scheme of life, eventually, his basketball career was about to end sooner rather than later.  As a star in high school and then went on to play at the next level in college as well. 

Over the course of this time, he started thinking about the importance of being able to find success in other lanes.  Having a dedication to the grind, and being really committed to a goal, are two key fundamentals to have when finding success in any lane and these are 2 things that a successful athlete can carry over off the court.  

“After graduating, I had my sights set on getting into the ever growing tech market. A former teammate of mine helped me secure a Business Development role at an NYC tech-startup.”

– Julian Aiken

Julian was a killer on the court and a killer in the sales game.  To excel in sales, you need a mentality of a prideful competitor, and that’s something that he has always had.  

“I was very confident that I’d excel in sales since I was in 4th grade. I started off setting up a lemonade stand with my brothers, safe to say we sold out. I was never one to focus on any problems at hand, rather I’d search for the solution to the issue at hand, which is the same approach I take in my career.”

– Julian Aiken

Some things happen for a reason

Julian attended Assumption University where he had a full athletic scholarship playing basketball for all 4 years. 

Following graduation, he would excel in the world of professional sales and a few years later, after some encouragement from NBA player Mo Bamba, Julian found a perfect fit and made the decision to work with PWRFWD, an online marketplace that drives the athlete to consumer industry.  

“I knew PWRFWD would be a great fit for me to contribute to when I met Luke Bonner, our CEO. It’s the perfect combination of tech + sports, which I’ve got nearly 10 years of experience working within. Luke truly is about empowering athletes & putting THEM before any of OUR interests at PWRFWD, our interests are their interests.  This is something you don’t see often from someone in a position of power especially in the world of sports. That being said, we are going to shake the table starting with Women’s Sports, specifically the WNBA”

– Julian Aiken

Get in your Duffy!

Julian’s bag might be even deeper off the court than it was on the court.  He is also working directly with a handful of professional athletes in the Web3 space. 

“I’m currently working with a few professional athletes in building out their web3 brands & getting them aligned with strong, meaningful projects that authentically align with their interests & who they are. This is a long-term game, so we’re looking to boost brand equity by doing things the right way.”

– Julian AIken

Although the one time New Jersey state leading scorer was unable to realize the childhood dream of playing in the NBA, Julian Aiken certainly was still able to flourish in life and find lots of success. 

That being said I asked him if he could give his younger self any advice. He told me: “I’d tell myself to dream even bigger. Ignore all of the limitations that others try to set on you.

Realistic for them doesn’t define what’s realistic for you…”

– Julian Aiken

Aiken continued, You can truly be anything that you aspire to be if you’re willing to work for it; you’ll get to meet all of your idols & role models from Maverick Carter to Kobe Bryant. Never get boxed in, because anything truly is possible just work harder than hard & be ready for the moments when they come. “

If you’re a ruthless competitor & love winning, I’d suggest giving tech-sales a look. Great with numbers & have a wide network of successful individuals? Look into becoming a CFA (Certified Financial Accountant) or a CPA (Certified Public Accountant).

You have got to be willing to work for it.  Great advice for any young person to receive.  Being ready for the moments when they come is especially valuable for athletes that may be considering retirement or are beginning to think about what to do or how life will be once the ball isn’t getting passed to you anymore. 

Julian touched on the type of mindset that’s helpful to have when this time comes.

“Some advice I’d give is to not allow your ego to stop you from being interested in new things. Don’t look at your career potentially coming to an end as failure, instead look at all of the doors & opportunities that have opened up due to your athletic success! Start to identify what your interests are outside of the sport you’ve played all of your life, it’s 2022 – there’s endless opportunity. 

– Julian Aiken

I can guarantee someone sitting in the crowd at one of your games can assist you in obtaining one of these roles, most will be ecstatic to hear your interest!”

– Julian Aiken

Life after ball…

Julian Aiken is the epitome.

Ball is life.  But Julian is the perfect example of even when the ball stops moving, life does not.  The lessons you learn from ball carry into all aspects of life including the chapter that happens once you hang up your jersey. 

For Julian, the goal is to help athletes reach their potential as enterprise businesses, using his background in tech, investing, and the corporate space to help them build brands that outlast their playing career. 

So far he has successfully helped over a dozen former African-American athletes launch budding careers in the tech industry and he is determined to increase that number into the thousands. 

When it comes to drawing up a game plan and executing, the GOAT you want to look at for mentorship or guidance is Julian Aiken.  

One crypto crowdfund looks to change the way creatives collaborate

This crypto crowdfund is for creators, supporters, and collectors seeking to participate in the birth of “yams.” A unique collaborative work by VSN & friends.

VSN’s goal: Introduce the universe of VSN through a high-quality visual production.

Check out the crypto crowdfund on

Who is VSN?

A unique musical talent. A master of transmutation. A new future for People of Culture. A magnetic community builder in the Black Web3 ecosystem. An onramp for the best and brightest, led by compassion and equity.

VSNendeavors to work within the tenets of compassion and equity to build a cycle of creation and healing through music, art, and Web3 technology.

The music itself is a calling card infused with overarching themes of joy, self-celebration, and spirituality. It’s meant to spark listeners to action around wellness and community

black crypto crowdfund
“In order to create, we must heal. In order to heal, we must create.” – vsn

The Fact: Black Culture is the first decentralized protocol

It was (and is) viral, wireless, and open-source – long before any of these concepts manifested in technology.

Watch two Black kids from two different countries who’ve never met performing almost identical dance moves to different genres of music. Listen to artists from foreign countries adopt Hip-Hop culture and Rap music.

Trace the lines between Country, Jazz, Blues, Rock n’ Roll, Soul music, Funk, and Future Beats.

This protocol lies within us all. It’s who we are, and who we have always been.

The Problem: The spectrum of Black Culture is not properly represented in media.

At the highest level, our culture is commodified by people who lack authentic proximity to it. The existing mindset toward diverse projects in major industries limits the breadth of culture; what is deemed marketable is allowed to exist.

Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in traditional industries that deal in culture won’t be enough to solve this problem. The innovation and inspiration provided to the world by People of Culture require new systems for recognition, payment, and distribution.

Check out the crypto crowdfund on

Our Solution: Create a crypto crowdfund infrastructure befit for Cultural Works.

The provenance and autonomy afforded by Web3 technology will allow more Black and Brown creators to own their means of distribution.

The more control artists have over how people access their work, and the price of that access, the more integrated their brands become in the lives of their supporters.

Web3 affords creators new ways to grow fruits through holistic ownership.

The future is flora; a sovereign garden made up of creators growing at their own pace and scale, designing new futures through collaboration.

What’s our first crop in this garden? “yams.”

VSN’s solo visual genesis project

A music video centering Black women in joy, leisure, and power, created with People of Culture. Logline: An auspicious beauty pageant featuring Black women showcasing their hidden talents. 🔮

“yams.” will set a new standard for collaborative Web3 projects by working with the Web3 community to raise funds for the video itself through the crowdfund, and assigning value to the people who produce and capture this work upon the project mint.

The key to VSN’s system for creators in Web3: rewarding their faith.

A radical shift in how contributors are integrated into large-scale projects is necessary.

When artists own their content and its’ means of distribution, they’re able to displace middlemen and embrace the community in their collaborative exchanges. Create + Heal.

The VSN crypto crowdfund, broken into three parts:

Compassion 🌼

Create a high-visibility project for People of Culture that nurtures their full selves, while onboarding key creators into Web3 through what they do best.

For “yams.”, this means providing collectors the privilege of holding space for the creation of high-level Black culture on-chain as associate producers of “yams.”.

Future VSN projects will prioritize early adopters as the ecosystem expands to incorporate large collaborative projects, token utility, and events.

Check out the crypto crowdfund on


In the sale of this work, vsn will split ~50% of primary and secondary sales with the creative team producing “yams.” Culture creators deserve this level of integration on the backend because these projects don’t happen without them.


“yams.” will capture Black Culture in real time, through a community-centric architecture that will:

  • Incentivize collaboration between artists
  • Encourage the appropriate engagement of all people in cultural works
  • Maintain the cultural authenticity of vsn projects


The tokens disseminated through the crypto crowdfund will allow contributors to play a part in the vsn. Holders are granted (varying by token):

  • A special edition version of vsn’s 2nd album, “flora.”
  • New music first via private virtual spaces held by vsn
  • A unique pass into “the garden.”, the growing universe of vsn where compassion and equity underpin cultural Web3 projects

And most importantly…

Production credits and governance in the “yams.” music video crypto crowdfund, to be released this Summer.

There’s a lot of magnetic Black energy, technology, and community baked into “yams.”, and the project is only in pre-production.

All will be revealed in the coming weeks via Mirror and **vsn’s** Twitter. Token holders will know what’s coming ahead of time.

Join our diverse community. Create a new vsn. If you read through the crypto crowdfund, tweet the link, your (brief) thoughts, and some yams.

ryan coogler

How Ryan Coogler used football as a platform to find his true calling in life

Who is Ryan Coogler? The director didn’t just wake up and make Black Panther.

Trust, that there are levels to this glow up. Growing up in the violent parts of the East Bay Area of Northern California, Coogler’s future wasn’t very hopeful.

Born in Oakland and raised in Richmond during a time where an African-American was more inclined to become a statistic than a star, the now 31-year-old director with only three feature films stands on the edge of glory.

Put yourself in Coogler’s shoes. You’re in the trenches where everyone around you is warring over street turf, selling or shooting up drugs, and getting shot while most of your peers end up either dead or in jail. You happen to be different because unlike most around, you have two loving, educated, and supportive parents.

Neighborhood kids tease you because your life seems better and your only escape is the house after the front door closes behind you. Coogler mentioned the tough times he dealt with while growing up in Oakland in an interview with The Undefeated. He said,

“Where we were living … there were kids that were on Section 8… There were housing projects … right behind us. I would play with those kids, but I would get teased because I went to a nicer school. I had both parents in the house. So, I didn’t really fit in.”

Shutting out a dangerous world, Coogler escaped to a fictional one by turning on the TV, popping tapes into the VCR, and watching multiple movies with his father. Little did Coogler know watching Rocky II with his dad would have a huge impact on his creativity and where he is today.

Sylvester Stallone Fight GIF by Rocky - Find & Share on GIPHY

Still, even with an unknown deep interest in film, no one told Coogler that he could be a director and screenwriter at a young age. So, he took the route most looked to in order to get out of his situation and at the age of 7 picked up football.

In his interview with The Undefeated, he said,

“A lot of kids struggle. Somebody asks you who you are, man, you got to be something, ‘Are you in the streets? Are you an athlete? What are you? Growing up, it was always one of those two things…”

Football changed Coogler’s life and he knew that when he stepped onto the field it provided him the balance he needed to progress. His grades were always great, but he ended up sticking to the sport, became captain of Saint Mary’s College High School Panthers and snagged a football scholarship to Saint Mary’s College of California.

Finally, Coogler made it out the hood, but this would only be a small step in his life. He still had obstacles to face. During his freshman year, he would major in chemistry in order to become a doctor, but little did he know that a creative writing class would change his life.

His creative writing teacher at the time, Rosemary Graham, gave them an assignment where students had to write about the most emotional experience they have ever faced. Coogler then submitted a story about his father almost bleeding to death in his arms.

Coogler thought nothing of it after he submitted his assignment but Graham was touched by the story and requested his presence immediately. She wanted to tell him that he had a rare talent, a talent rarer than having the brain of a doctor. Coogler had the visionary mind of a screenwriter. Peep what he told the East Bay Times,

“She looked at my essays and told me I had a creative eye, that I should go to Hollywood and write screenplays… I thought, ‘Where is she getting this?’ Then I thought ‘Why not?’ I went on the Internet, learned how to write a screenplay and fell in love with it.

However, after Coogler’s freshman year, Saint Mary’s College of California cut their football program and he lost his scholarship. Yet, that didn’t stop the future Black Panther director from obtaining a college degree, but let him know how little power you have as a student-athlete.

He could’ve quit and gone home but he stayed strong and carried on. That same year, because of his good football season at his previous university, New Mexico State, Brigham Young University, and Sacramento State all recruited the young wide receiver. Once again Coogler was able to use football as a platform to launch him to an education.

He ended up choosing Sacramento State where he majored in finance and ended his football career grabbing 112 receptions for 1,213 yards and six touchdowns. Don’t think Coogler forgot about a possible career in screenwriting. He lowkey chose Sacremento State because of their interesting film production programs.

At Sacremento State Coogler would get the creative film experience he needed. According to the East Bay Times, it was there he made “Story of a Dollar,” which was about a $20 bill that circulates around the Bay Area and the lives of the people it reaches. Plus, a 12-minute movie named “Eyes Like Mine,” which was about a young man in college who struggles with the loss of his girlfriend.

After graduation, Coogler had a decision to make — to go pro football or pro in screenwriting. He told Film Magazine about his decision to attend USC film school. He said,

“It was either go there or play wide receiver. I was short, my prospects weren’t the highest, so I jumped off that cliff and drove to L.A.”

In L.A. he honed his craft at USC creating a grip of short films like Fig. Actually, during his first semester, Coogler had to live out the whip, couch hop, and post up with Jesuits, before finding an apartment in LA.

He told Democracy Now,

“When I first went to film school, however, because it was such a sporadic thing, I went down to Los Angeles and I didn’t have anywhere to stay yet. So I kind of had to jump-start in classes and things like that. So, for a few—I would say, for about a week and a half, you know what I mean, I was getting dressed in my car, spending most of my time in school, you know, until I found a place. But I bumped around quite a bit. I stayed with some Jesuits, you know what I mean, with a group of Jesuits that were in training, basically. I stayed with like a distant relative for a day or two.”

He never let the pressure get to his head which is something he can thank football for. As an ex-athlete myself I know that times when you’re under stress you have a chance at performing your best.

This mentality is probably what led him to win big at the Sundance Festival for Fruitvale Station back in 2013. Lowkey this jump started Coogler’s career and gave him the confidence to talk to Sylvester Stallone, make Creed, and continue the Rocky legacy. Coogler explained the feeling when he first tried to pitch Creed to Sly. He told Deadline,

“The filmmaker inside of me…well, I’ll never forget the feeling I had when Sly was telling me stories. He would become so animated, he’d go across to the side of the desk and pretend to be this person or that person. I thought, this dude is an off-the-charts actor. I felt a little bit like a coach gets when he sees a greatly talented player, and I thought, if I ever had the chance to work with this dude, I’ll have to jump at it because this is nuts…”

Take Coogler’s story into consideration. The odds were against him. Yet, he managed to maneuver to space where he can now call himself a legendary director. Homie never expected that his three feature films would rank award-winning.

Nor did he expect to create Fruitvale Station, Creed, and Black Pantherbut mission accomplished. Now, I bet that young boys from the East Bay Area when they see Coogler winning an award on TV it’ll change their lives for the better.

Listen, don’t be afraid to jump and use the tools provided for you to get out of a shitty situation or into an even better one. You never know where you’ll land if you take a leap of faith.

Richard Jefferson speaks about his new Ruffles sneaker and his love for ball

I was able to spend a few minutes with ESPN analyst and former NBA player Richard Jefferson and talk to him about the tradition of NBA All-Star weekend and all the hype around his new Ruffle Sneaker.

Ruffles didn’t miss a beat at the NBA All-Star Game

For the first time, RUFFLES debuted as the title partner of the 2022 RUFFLES All-Star Celebrity Game. The game featured the RUFFLES 4-point Ridge Line, a 4-point line resembling the ridges in RUFFLES potato chips.

And for every shot made from behind the line, RUFFLES and the NBA will donate $4,000 to support the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a minimum of $40,000.

Adding more hype, TV and film stars, musicians, and professional athletes from the likes of Tiffany Haddish, Jack Harlow, Machine Gun Kelly, Quavo and Mayor Justin Bibb flooded the court.

After all, ball is life right? 

Life moves extremely fast.  Everything around us is constantly growing, changing, and evolving at what seems to be an increasingly rapid rate.  The same holds true for the game of basketball. 

After all, ball is life right?  One of the most crucial things to remember in both life and basketball is to remember how important tradition is. 

“One thing that stays constant is change.  The game is always going to evolve.  The league got so offense heavy with everyone playing small ball and shooting threes and Steph Curry changing the game.”

Richard Jefferson on next generation style of basketball

In the course of my lifetime, I have seen the game evolve from an inside offense, lower scoring, defensive type of game to a run-and-gun, fast-paced, 3 point shooting, high scoring game. 

Even today we are in the midst of the game developing even further.

“Currently right now who are probably the best players in the NBA?  It’s probably Jokic, Embiid, and Giannis.  There are big men dominating the league and we haven’t seen that since the early 2000’s and the 90’s.”

Richard Jefferson points out how there is a return on the emphasis of bigs and defense

A Change for Better or for Worse?

There are good changes, bad changes, but always constant evolution.  One of the traditions that could use a little change for the better is the NBA All-Star game. 

Over the course of the past decade, it has been a little disappointing for fans because there is a blatant lack of defense and competitive spirit.  Kobe Bryant describes how the game used to be different and what the fans want to see.  

For the Love of the Game

Although the game itself has lost a little of its luster, the weekend as a whole is still a special tradition that is important to be carried on.  It is a rare opportunity for fans, players, and celebrities as well. 

Since 2003, one of the featured events of the weekend has been the All-Star celebrity game.  It’s not only fun for the fans to see their public figures in a competitive setting, but RJ also brought to light how it’s good for growth.

“Everybody loves to play sports.  I think it’s cool that celebrities love the game of basketball.  They actually help grow the game of basketball, they contribute to it.  I think it’s awesome to see who can play, who can’t and who wants to just be out there for fun.”

Richard Jefferson on looking forward to seeing the Celebs hoop

Richard Jefferson speaks on his custom Ruffle sneakers

All-Star weekend isn’t only special for fans but for players as well.  Richard Jefferson also described to me what was most special from a players’ perspective.  

A cultural staple of fans, celebs, and players…

Another traditional element of basketball culture for both NBA fans and players is the love for sneakers.  One of the official partners for NBA All-Star weekend is Ruffles who had a feature shoe being worn by several of the participants. 

I asked Richard if he was a sneaker enthusiast.

Life and basketball may be in a constant state of change and evolution. 

Whether it be growing the popular swag of sneaker collecting in pop culture or enhancing the facets of NBA All-Star weekend, honoring and carrying forward the traditions is the key to slowing down the moment and providing balance.

ruffles sneaker
Ruffles Sneaker gifted to Richard Jefferson

Black Women photographers make a break for it and this one grant is responsible

Polly Irungu founded Black Women Photographers (BWP) to empower, and inspire Black women and non-binary photographers to create. 

Launched in 2020, Black Women Photographers (BWP) was founded as a global community with over a thousand active members, dedicated to providing resources to Black women and non-binary photographers, who are typically gatekept out of the industry.

This year BWP worked with Nikon to grant $10,000 worth of gear and $40,000 cash to recipients from all across the world. 

This year’s grant was judged by incredibly extinguished and experienced photographers in the community, including celebrity photographer Jessy J, Director of Photography and videography at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Danese Kenon, and Nikon Ambassador Audrey Woulard

Many of these creative recipients will use their cash-based grants, to fund projects to elevate communities and uplift those who need it. Others will use their grants towards their photo-related business cost.

Nikon has also rewarded four mirrorless cameras to other entries. 

$10,000 BWP Grant Recipient – Project Based 

Tiffany Sutton, St. Louis, (@tiffanyjoy1955)Missouri

Coming out at the number one spot, Tiffany Suton is a digital and film photographer based in St. Louis. As the art director of Washington University’s, The Spectacle, she is elevating BIPOC in the art world.

Sutton works with Black women exclusively, as a way to reconnect with herself and discuss social movements. Sutton will be using the grant to fund a month-long project in June.

This project is a film and portrait series capturing Black women and their everyday life there. 

$5,000 BWP Grant Recipients – Project Based 

Toni Shaw, Greensboro, (@theshawphotographygroup)North Carolina

Shaw is the principal photographer and owner of Shaw Photography Group. Her specialty includes dance portraits and wedding photography. That doesn’t stop her from exploring other genres of photography.

With her experience and vision, she develops a signature style that sets her apart from others. Shaw will be using her grant to focus on empowering youth and autistic children with free project sessions.

Wanjiku Gitau, (@afrocanqueenphotography)Nairobi, Kenya

Raised in Nairobi, Gitau is a self-taught photographer, who moved to London in 2017 where she began freelancing. According to her website, for Gitau, “photography is all about life; it is a mixture of colors and themes.”

Working to uplift those similar to her, Gitau will use her grant to help educate and mentor the next generation of women photographers in Nairobi, by teaching the youth basics and giving them the equipment to capture their stories. 

Zhané GayByrd, (@vibrance_bw) Oakland, California

Zhané is a Photographer from the Bay Area, who focuses on capturing the essence of reliance, beauty, and versatility of Black women and nonbinary people.

Her works explore the many ways Black women choose to heal by capturing true, raw emotions. Zhané will be using her grant to focus on helping Black women in the Bay Area with their own mental health journey, by offering them a therapy. 

Clara Watt, Geneva, (@clarawatt) Switzerland

Watt is a Canadian and Senegalese photographer based in London and Geneva. Featured in multiple outlets, Watt explores belonging through, social, cultural, and gender identity. 

Watt will help Black women who were sexually assaulted or harassed reclaim those spaces with portraits, film, and give them access to therapy. 

$3,000 BWP Grant Recipients – Non-Project based

Nicky Quamina-Woo (@nickywoophoto) – New York and Southeast Asia

Woo tells worldwide compelling stories with her photographs. Her work focuses on human unrest and social justice with projects that put the harsh realities of western colonization.

Woo examines the changes that come with the aftermath of trauma caused to her, adaptation is survival. 

DeLovie Kwagala (@deloviephotography) – Kampala, Uganda

Kwangala explores the narrative surrounding identity, belonging, social injustices, and Gender-Sexuality with the intent to not sexualize, fetish or stigmatize. With an endless list of achievements, Kwangala aspires to educate and narrate with their images. 

Ornelle Chimi (@ornelle.c) – Washington, DC

Chimi brings her own style to fashion photography. As a fashion and portrait photographer. She’s been working endlessly, learning everything she needs to stand out. Chimi has been featured in Vogue Italia, Nylon, and New York Magazine.

Melissa Bunni Ellen (@hellobunni)- New York, New York

Ellen is a storyteller and visionary making an impact. Ellens images capture humanity. Her portrait works are beautifully composed and reflect the genuine emotions of her subjects. She will be speaking with other storytellers this year at Storytelling for Change Summit hosted by Photographers Without Borders.  

Karene Jean-Baptiste (@kareneisabelle) – Montreal, Canada

Baptiste was an engineer, before becoming a photographer. Today she captures the world around her, looking for moments of magic which she says “can appear and disappear in an instant within a scene or a human face.”

Her pictures give viewers an immersive experience.  

Who’s about to level up with that Nikon gear hookup tho?

Rukie Jumah, (@rukiejumah)Abuja Nigeria

Inari Briana, (@inaribriana) – Atlanta Georgia

Ramona Hernandez, (@radiantramona) – Atlanta, Georgia

Can’t forget to mention Jamie Walker from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Congratulations to all the winners of the Black Women Photographers and Nikon grant! We cant wait to see your progress and future works.

Allie Eve Knox could unlock the billion dollar sex worker

Allie Eve Knox is the crypto cutie we’ve all been waiting for as she has found a way to monetize sex work on the blockchain.

Photo by Allie Eve Knox

Cryptocurrency has created a digital renaissance for all types of artists. Many creatives are making rent through cryptocurrency, while performers in sex work are left out of the conversation.

Despite sex workers depending on cryptocurrency, they’re not taken seriously in the space due to the negative stigma surrounding their work.

Welcome to the school of hard Knox 

allie eve knox
photo by Victor Von and Allie Eve Knox

Adult entertainment workers have been involved in the crypto market long before Bitcoin came into the mainstream. Allie Eve Knox, an adult entertainer, has also been involved with crypto since her Paypal was shut down in 2014.

Also known as “Crypto Cutie”, she consults others, creates NFT’s on Rarible, and runs her own business as an entertainer. 

Knox is more than meets the eye, coming into the game with two undergrad degrees and a graduate degree, respectively.

After being shut down by Coinbase, Knox saw the opportunity to work with Spankchain. Spankchain, a site where sex workers couldn’t be shut down, offered their own Crypto for adult entertainers. Knox was treated with the same respect as a Developer, at Spankchain pushing their project forward. 

“My relationship with Crypto is kind of different, it’s more I have to use rather than I like to use

Aliie Eve Knox

Aside from accepting payments in Crypto through Spankchain, Knox mints NFT’s on Rarible. While most of her NFT’s are sexually explicit, others are simply selfies, artwork, and beautifully composed photoshoots. She is actively involved in the blockchain, collaborating and consulting others.

A sex workers dependency on crypto 

For many, adaptation is survival. Sex workers’ dependency on crypto is due to necessity as opposed to a luxury. Sex workers such as Allie Eve Knox depend on cryptocurrency to put food on the table or pay bills. 

“We talk about Crypto being this like solution for things, whatever, I always say its a solution, not the solution”, Said Knox. “It’s been helpful, it’s saved our asses a bunch of times, its how we pay our bills, its how we take our income in”.

sex worker crypto cutie
Photo by Victor Von and Allie Eve Knox

Knox is one of the few sex workers in the crypto space who thrive in the Blockchain. There are still those out there who are only surviving. The dependency sex workers have on crypto, while not taken seriously stems from a greater issue.

Those who produce sexually explicit content openly on the internet, are detested in the public’s eye.

“We still face the stigma, it doesn’t matter how many apps people build or what type of products they build, what kind of company pops up, this is still a social problem”

– Allie Eve Knox

It’s no surprise, Knox is successful, in her line of work. However, everything she received did not come without taking a few risks or putting in hours of work.

Many believe that sex work is easy, but the reality is many of these workers are running their own businesses. Marketing, Scheduling content, and client interaction are the tip of the iceberg. 

“There’s a lot of us that have degrees in marketing, or sale, we can do all kinds of shit, we run our own businesses”, said Knox. “If I was to make a resume of all the shit that I do on a daily basis, it would blow actual jobs out of water”.

Allie Eve Knox continues to grind…

Cryptocurrency allows sex workers to work comfortably in the safety of their own homes and choice of partners. The fluctuating value of cryptocurrency is only one example of the inconsistencies sex workers face. For instance, many banks threatened to penalize platforms like Pornhub and OnlyFans by refusing payments.

As a result, causing them to abruptly ban sexually explicit content. In addition, other sites go through a more time-consuming process before allowing producers to upload their content. However, nothing is guaranteed to be uploaded. For those who have bills to pay, time and assurance are important.

“I spent 14 hour days at the computer, completely scheduling my OnlyFans that was for 2022 like that took me almost three months,” said the crypto cutie. “Here the problem if OnlyFans comes through and decides there not gonna allow nudity again, well that whole fucking time for me is wiped, that whole income for me is gonna be wiped.

Tokenomics is becoming more mainstream. New startups are popping up each quarter, making headlines. Meanwhile, those who have been surviving on cryptocurrency since the beginning, accumulating tons of knowledge are rarely given a seat at the table 

“Crypto is that thing where it’s all the hell raisers, so you think there would be more a community vibe across the board, but it hasn’t been that way”

– Allie Eve Knox

Ray Da Yungin: The visionary rapping to save his community

Eleven-year-old rapper Ray Da Yungin creates fire lyrics with vibe and flow but doesn’t miss his shot to speak on gun violence in his community.

The independent artist from Louisiana described his sound as “definitely one of a kind,” as he blends Hip-Hop and RnB stylings through his sharp lyrics. 

Ray Da Yungin came onto the scene in 2019, with his debut single “Up Next,” and has since released his first album “Look Out World” with 8 tracks and 15,539 streams on Spotify.

All under his own self-created music label ‘MadHouse Muzik.’ 

An antidote to the hate-violence epidemic

Kid visionary Ray is on a path to make a change for both himself and those around him, amidst the current national epidemic of gun violence and police brutality against Black Americans.

“It always feels good to express myself through music,” said Ray.

His most recent release “Miss You” reflects on the deaths of his two school friends, 12-year-old Xavier Perry and 13-year-old Oxford “Ox” Foster who lost their lives to gun violence and a car crash respectively. Ray calls attention to how difficult dealing with loss and trauma is, especially at such a young age.

With lyrics like:

“How do I handle all this so young?/ Yeah, how do I know if I’m ‘posed to cry? Every day know I thank God we breathin’/But why I feel like all my brothers leaving…’”

Ray uses his song almost like his own personal grieving ground, giving his all to make sure he remembers his brothers and spreads the message he wants us all to hear.

That we have to stop the violence and hate that caused such tragic deaths.

Rapper Ray’s “Miss You” lyrics and music video are crucial for today’s rap game. They aren’t just a general commentary on – and protest against – the murderous environment that Black people face, like Childish Gambino’s “This is America,” Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s “Freedom,” or J. Cole’s “Be Free.”

Ray actually gets into a story of personal trauma and loss, that should drive home exactly why: gun violence, racial profiling and brutality, and the Black poverty line are problems we must solve right here and right now.

Anecdotal and storytelling rap should be at the forefront of the BLM movement right now, and Ray is taking a huge step forward to help achieve that.

He is stepping up to the plate alongside artists like Janelle Monae and her track “HELL YOU TALMBOUT,” which mentions specific tragedies at the hands of racism and prejudice:

“Trayvon Martin, won’t you say his name?/Sean Bell, say his name.”

Ray Da Yungin and reconciling hatred with music

With mass shootings becoming a daily occurrence in America (shown through record-highs of 610 mass shootings in 2020), gun violence is a serious threat to any American’s life.

Never mind when weapons of mass murder are driven by poisonous American societal norms – endorsing harmful preconceptions and racist attitudes in the country’s highest institutions.

The police, the courts, and even the White House itself have been twisted and tainted with bloodied footprints and answerable bullet holes. Ray Da Yungin takes an active stand against this in “Miss You,” leaving the listener empowered with love and commemoration for victims of such senseless gun violence.

But much more importantly, Ray is paving the way for the most powerful tools we have. 

Our voices. 

“Tap into whatever it is you like to do as long as it’s positive. Try to do it as much as possible and you’ll feel better.”

– Ray Da Yungin

Ray Da Yungin is breathing new life into this simple power that we all have to make a difference. Just within our reach, we have voices and hearts that can protest with more fire and power than the firing of a gun ever could, and Ray is here to remind us of that.

With his flow stressing just how bad the losses can be, alongside just how equally strong the justice for them can be:   

“Oh you know imma miss you/Real life I was just ‘wit you/These memories never gone fade away/Make sure that they don’t forget you.” 

His melodic bars hit us in just the right place, and all that from an 11-year-old makes you think that any notion we have of being powerless is false.

Ray demonstrates to us all that it just takes one voice to make a change

Future plans

The future is bright for the young star, as Ray Da Yungin gives himself hope each day. “In the next 5 years it’s my hope for me and MadHouse Muzik to be at the top of the game,” Ray Da Yungin said. 

Let’s see what’s next for the Ray Da Yungin

SIDUS HEROES sets the bar higher for infrastructure in the metaverse

SIDUS HEROES is building a foundational infrastructure for the metaverse at the perfect time. The gaming industry is the fastest-growing sector in entertainment today and is predicted to have a market value surpassing $314 billion by 2026.

All this growth is enabled by advancements in virtual reality technology, cloud gaming, and graphical processing units that together make it possible for users to have an immersive gaming experience.

For this reason, the technology at the forefront of the metaverse is driving the rapid growth of the gaming industry. From virtual reality technology to cloud computing and even decentralized ledger technologies, the success of the metaverse is seen through the lens of gaming applications as the industry advances the infrastructure needed to build the metaverse. 

While various non-gaming platforms such as virtual concerts, digital art, and collectibles also highlight the social and interactive features of the metaverse, gaming platforms offer the closest definition of what a fully-fledged metaverse would look like.

After all, most gaming platforms already espouse some of the metaverse’s primitive features.

The fierce pace with which the gaming industry is developing and advancing towards the metaverse means that the current computer equipment and most of the underlying technology are barely able to keep up.

Most supporting hardware technologies and infrastructure is becoming outdated.

Infrastructural Challenges in the Gaming Metaverse

Cloud computing technologies and virtual reality devices are a significant part of today’s gaming industry. These tools make it possible to create immersive worlds that allow multiple players to log on simultaneously and experience a game’s graphic interface. 

For most gamers, the frustration caused by hardware overheating, especially when playing in multiplayer mode, is common, especially with gaming platforms that are built on centralized servers.

As more gaming applications advance their graphical user interfaces and embrace the metaverse concept, even the most advanced GPUs will eventually struggle to deliver optimum results. 

For these games, decentralized cloud computing is a must-have as it situates the decentralized network of servers as close to the end-user as possible. Compared to decentralized cloud computing games, games running centralized network architecture encounter critical UX challenges, such as frame drops and glitches during gameplay.

In a fully scaled metaverse, such challenges will only be compounded as applications in the metaverse demand even greater computational and storage capabilities. 

As things stand at the moment, many games are only launching on certain hardware, since old hardware continues to become outdated. For example, the price of the latest PlayStation can go as high as $1000, plus extra costs for the video cards needed for the full gaming experience. 

Even though decentralized gaming alternatives exist, GameFi applications still possess poor quality graphics that repel players from centralized gaming platforms because they are accustomed to high-quality graphics and a premium user experience. 

SIDUS HEROES Infrastructure for the Metaverse

For this reason, SIDUS HEROES is developing the world’s first-ever platform to combine both traditional gaming concepts with decentralized networks, thus providing gamers a metaverse-ready infrastructure.

SIDUS HEROES is built with a sophisticated infrastructure that not only enables access from anywhere on the globe, it also guarantees high scalability and performance. 

To solve the problem of glitches and frame drops, the SIDUS HEROES metaverse is being built on the revolutionary WebGL (Web Graphics Library) technology. This is a javascript API that is commonly used to render impressive 3D graphics on ordinary browsers.

With the implementation of WebGL in concert with SIDUS HEROES’ blockchain for NFTs, SIDUS’ developers will have an easy time creating immersive 3D games that will be accessible to anyone, from anywhere in the world, using a simple browser.

Players and platform users will no longer need sophisticated machines or complicated plugins to access metaverse-ready platforms. Simply by using the user’s in-built graphics processing unit, WebGL makes it possible for any device to render complex visual elements.

In addition, the distributed blockchain network that SIDUS HEROES is built on will store players’ in-game assets in the form of non-fungible tokens throughout the SIDUS HEROES ecosystem.

Conclusion: Advancing the Metaverse 

As gaming platforms advance closer to the metaverse concept, other non-gaming platforms will follow suit. The metaverse is the next logical step in the evolution of the internet.

However, existing infrastructure currently lags in terms of its capacity to support a completely immersive digital experience. 

SIDUS HEROES is building the infrastructure required to support the development of an easily accessible, immersive, decentralized and entertaining virtual world that is the precursor to the gaming metaverse.

With SIDUS HEROES’ blockchain network, developers will be able to create in-game assets in the form of NFTs and the WebGL implemented in the SIDUS HEROES ecosystem will help to enhance users’ experience with lifelike 3D graphics.

Gaming and social media: The combo helping gamers level up

Compared to the gaming industry, social media is a fairly new phenomenon. However, these two industries are becoming increasingly entwined.

More developers than ever are embracing social media platforms to promote releases and engage with audiences. Meanwhile, social media channels provide the perfect platform for video gaming communities to connect. 

By the end of 2022, it’s estimated there will be more than 3 billion gamers worldwide. With many of these gamers also being active social media users, social media will certainly continue to shape gaming communities and the industry as a whole. 

Social Media Lets Gamers Monetize Their Streams 

In recent years, streaming networks like Twitch have made it possible for video game enthusiasts to earn money from doing what they love.

Expert streamers can earn an average of $4,000 every month, providing they deliver around 40 hours of content on a weekly basis. This level of income can be boosted further by securing additional advertising revenues.

While Twitch is considered a streaming network, rather than a social one, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Many of the most lucrative Twitch streamers, including Ninja and Tfue, actively use their Twitter and social media channels to promote their Twitch streams. 

Social Media Cultivates Online Communities 

Gone are the days when video game enthusiasts had to meet in musty basements and backwater messageboards. The gamer of today is only a tweet away from connecting with legions of fellow enthusiasts. 

Social platforms not only facilitate online discussion and friendships but also allow like-minded players to connect to form online teams and leagues. As the esports market continues to boom, social media channels will remain a key line of communication for budding professionals looking to connect with potential teammates and sponsors. 

While the most established esports tournaments like the EVO Championship Series and Fortnite World Cup require little introduction, smaller tournaments will continue to capitalize on social media to promote fixtures and results.

Social media will have a crucial role in promoting more minor tournaments, helping facilitate a broader spectrum of playing leagues that encompass all skill levels. Looking to follow the action yourself?

You can watch esports favorites like CS:GO, Dota 2, and League of Legends live at today. 

Connecting Players with Developers 

In the past, the success of a game largely hinged on physical sales. While digital downloads have largely supplanted physical formats, social media is also changing the way we think about success metrics. 

Social media has redefined the relationship between gamers and developers. Developers can leverage social channels to generate buzz for new releases and upcoming DLCs.

Likewise, it also allows unhappy gamers to express their issues with half-baked gameplay and problematic bugs. In the worst cases, social media uproars can snowball and prove devastating to the reputation of a developer.

However, developers can also take heed of this feedback and engage with their audience. Several developers have been able to save themselves from disaster after releasing lackluster launch editions by listening to complaints from players and providing downloadable upgrades for free. 

The Future of Gaming and Social Media 

More than anything else, social media has allowed gaming to become a global multiplayer experience.

For developers, it’s an incredibly valuable platform for gleaning feedback from audiences and, in an age where digital formats are the standard, the chance to remedy issues quickly.

For gamers, these platforms have transformed the very nature of gaming, turning it into something truly social.

Travis Scott and Coachella: Could one petition be his saving grace?

News broke that Kayne West will be replacing Travis Scott at Coachella this year. Now a petition by Travis Scott fans is in motion to get the performer back on the Coachella stage.

This comes in after it’s been announced that the rapper is stacked up with lawsuits over the Astroworld tragedy have amounted to over billions at this point.

Travis Scott Full Performance at Coachella 2017

According to a Variety article, it was revealed that the festival informed Scott’s longtime agent, Cara Lewis of the Cara Lewis Group, of its intent to pull Scott from the bill, which he was to headline, and that it would pay a kill fee for the cancelation, typically 25 percent.

“I didn’t know the exact details until you know minutes before the press conference,” said Scott while interviewing with Charlemagne Tha God.

It’s confirmed that 10 people have died on November 5 at Astroworld. People have criticized the role Travis Scott played in the dangerous environment. Some have called out his “ranging” culture to be the main cause for so much of the chaos that night

In the interview with Charlemagne, Scott was asked about the culture of “ranging” and the critiques that have come out about it.

Charlemagne asked, “Raging has been a part of the culture of your shows… You’ve encouraged, I guess, the kind of energy that could have led to something like this happening. Do you think that contributed to the energy of this night?”

Travis Scott replied, “ It’s something I’ve been working on for a while just creating these experiences and trying to show the experiences happening in a safe environment, us as artists we trust professionals to make sure that things happen and people leave safely …. it’s was just like a regular show it felt like to me… People didn’t show up there to just be harmful people.”

Travis Scott explained further, that people “showed up to have a good time” and concluded that the tragedy was “something unfortunate happened”

What is now left for the Sicko Mode Rapper? He is still facing mounting lawsuits, and while that is going on behind the scenes Travis Scott’s has been keeping a pretty low profile.

He was spotted back in late December with his daughter Stormi for a Huston Holiday Food and Toy Drive. According to Billboard, the event was a collaboration between the city of Huston, Scott’s Cactus Jack Foundation, and the Mayor of Huston Sylvester Turner.

His most recent post on Instagram was of himself for New Year’s Eve. He is also expecting another child with Kylie Jenner this year. His next album Utopia is expected to drop this year as well.

Only time will tell what is in store for Travis Scott the reminder of this year. Here are three ways Travis Scott can pivot and possibly prove that he’s ready to take the Coachella stage.

1. Tap in with Cactus Jack artists

Back in mid-April of last year, it was announced that artist SoFaygo, a Michigan rapper who blew up last year for his hit single “Knock-Knock”, which went viral on Tiktok, signed on to Cactus Jack Records .

As it stands, Cactus Jack has the likes of Don Toliver, Chase B, and Sheck Wes on the label. Travis Scott could take some time out of the spotlight and focus on furthering developing these artists’ careers.

Investing time and resources to help further push his record label can allow him to build up a good reputation for his label separate from him as an artist.

Playing in the background can allow him to get back to the music which seems to be his main focus when it comes to his brand.

2. Go back to producing

Tapping back into his record label gives him full reign to step into his producer bag.

Travis Scott already has a history of producing some hit songs and albums. He has produced for Kanye West, Jay Z, Wale, Big Sean, Dj Khaled etc. This can be the perfect time to step into the producer space and continue to play a background force in the music industry.

Cactus Jack Records is a fertile ground for creating an environment for musical artists to thrive and take the music into their own hands. Pivoting into the producer role can allow him to still have an influence and make waves in the industry.

3. Tap in with Houston Community

One major move Travis Scott and the team should focus on is the ways they can go above and beyond for the Houston Community. Many visitors of Astroworld were natives of the city and Scott intentionally investing in Houston would be a step in a good direction.

It was mentioned earlier in this piece that he participated in a charity event this past Holiday season. Travis Scott should build upon that work by tapping into mutual aid groups like Mutual Aid Houston. They are “a BIPOC-led grassroots collective boosting mutual aid efforts within Houston, Texas.”

This mutual aid organization was able to crowdfund up to $130,000 for families affected by the extreme cold and snowstorm that occurred last winter.

Teaming up with organizations that are on the ground and creating material changes would be a good way for the Astroworld Rapper to reinvest his image and influence. 

Will Travis Scott make it to Coachella?

Who knows what will happen after backlash from the Astrowrld tragedy will fizzle out? What do we know? Travis Scott fans will always be there for their artist and hopefully, their Coachella petition works.

See the petition (here).