In a world where the internet plays a significant role in shaping industries and cultures, one individual stands out as a driving force behind the empowerment of the Hip Hop community.
Ajene Watson, a private investor, business management consultant, and CEO of Digital Asset Monetary Network, Inc., shares his vision for reclaiming the culture and redefining the representation of Hip Hop online. In this interview, Ajene discusses his various business ventures, including his role as the principal owner of AJENE WATSON, LLC, and sheds light on the importance of the .hiphop domain extension.
Join us as we explore Ajene Watson’s insights on the socioeconomic impact of .HipHop and his mission to give the Hip Hop community the means to shape its own narrative and regain control of its future.
Who is Ajene Watson?
Ajene Watson is a private investor, business management consultant, and CEO of Digital Asset Monetary Network, Inc.
Ajene has 28 years of professional experience in various markets (Real Estate, Entertainment, Technology, Financial Services, Stat-ups, etc.) with a focus on the development of private and public companies, as well as building educational platforms to foster business and financial literacy.
Born and raised in the birthplace of Hip Hop, Ajene shares an authentic experience and connection with both the culture and communities, where ‘more than’ just the music of Hip Hop evolved.
What businesses do you own and how are they successful?
I am the principal owner of AJENE WATSON, LLC (“AWLLC”). AWLLC is a business management and financial services consultancy firm. AWLLC focuses on the development of early-stage ventures; particularly in the microcap markets.
Examples would be:
Ascent Solar – a leading provider of innovative, high-performance, flexible thin-film solar panels for use in scenarios where traditional rigid solar panels don’t work; such as for space missions, airborne vehicles and agrivoltaic installations;
Global Election Services (“GES”) – a provider of comprehensive technology-enabled election services to a variety of organizations such as labor unions, credit unions, political parties, colleges & universities, residential groups & trade associations—managing thousands of elections involving more than 40,000,000 voters.
Founded in April 2008, AWLLC has been involved in the development of close to 50 companies in either limited, support, extensive, and/or leadership capacities. AWLLC has participated in uplisting clients to the Nasdaq national market and has facilitated millions of dollars in capital raises to publicly traded companies.
Through AWLLC, Ajene Watson became the CEO of Digital Asset Monetary Network, Inc. (“DigitalAMN”). AWLLC holds the principal interest in DigitalAMN, which is a next generation, hybrid business & financial services advisory company.
DigitalAMN has developed a novel ecosystem that fosters growth for entrepreneurs and investor independent of industry, race, or income and stewards social and economic change while capitalizing on the intrinsic value of early-stage ventures and value investment opportunities.
AWLLC began R&D for the development of DigitalAMN, it’s product and service offerings in 2015. You can see from this press linking to and early Molly Reynolds’ Inc Magazine piece, “What to Expect When Innovation Accelerates” — the creation of the PAI® and its ancillary product suite, was/is a highly anticipated business platform.
While DigitalAMN itself is in its launch phase, having already raised $3.2M+, you can clearly see the value created during the test and development phase of the PAI® via the attached summary. Dot Hip Hop, LLC is one of the value-adds.
Dot Hip Hop, LLC (https://get.hiphop/) is the domain name registry that holds the license to develop and operate the Generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”), .hiphop (“.HipHop”).
What is .hiphop and why is it important?
.HipHop is what’s known as a Generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”)—a/k/a domain extension. A website has two parts, a prefix [Amazon] and a domain extension [.com]. Combine the prefix and the domain extension you have, Amazon.com.
What does .com actually mean?
It means, “Commercial”, and its intended use was for Commercial Entities. Now just think about it… when was the last time “.com” was truly representative of a kid from the hood? Or a rapper? Or a B-Boy? Perhaps a DJ or MC? Maybe the POWER series on Showtime? Phat Farm clothing brand? Nope, none of it.
“.HipHop” actually means Hip Hop! And its intended use is for any person(s) [individual, company and/or organization] who represents Hip Hop, is represented by Hip Hop, and/or loves and embraces the culture of Hip Hop.
This is literally the first time in the internet’s history where the global culture of Hip Hop can fully define, brand and represent itself online. The communities comprising the culture of Hip Hop are also uniquely positioned to reclaim ownership of Hip Hop in a meaningful way.
Can you explain in your opinion what reclaiming the culture means to you?
“Reclaiming the culture” is us finding a way to economically reposition ourselves in Hip Hop, where we are not the product produced, but rather those that “Own the Means of Production”.
Up until now, quite honestly, that was very difficult. This is because, generally speaking, people are typically easily distracted by “the bag”.
This seems to be even more so amongst those from disenfranchised and impoverished communities. And it’s that distraction that keeps the masses looking for a way out, vs. a way to end socioeconomic disparities.
.HipHop gives us a tool to help end the socioeconomic disparities that plagues society. I am not saying it’s the ‘end all be all’, but it is a tool.
And with this tool, as the world migrates even deeper into the online world of Web2 and Web3, we as a community can own our culture’s name, likeness, brand, identity and digital assets in a way we were no able to do in the past 50 years. This means, NOW is the time to establish what the next 50 Years will look like. “.HipHop” gives us that power!
How many types of domain registries or Gtld’s are there? Who operates them?
There are over a thousand of Top-Level Domains (“TLD”), and gTLDs is just one type of TLD. TLDs types include:
Generic Top-level Domains (gTLD)
Sponsored Top-level Domains (sTLD)
Country Code Top-level Domains (ccTLD)
Infrastructure Top-Level Domain (ARPA)
Test Top-Level Domains (tTLD)
There are a number of domain registry companies that operate the varying types of TLDs. These registries include (not limited to):
Dot Hip Hop – operates the .hiphop Top-Level Domain (“TLD”)
Verisign – operates the .com and .net TLDs
Public Interest Registry – operates the .org TLD
Neustar – operates the .biz TLD [which btw, our Chief Counsel & COO operated as a Sr. VP]
Afilias – operates the .info TLD
Donuts – operates over 200 new generic TLDs, including .life, .guru, .store, and .world, among others
Radix – operates new TLDs, such as .tech, .online, .store, and .website, among others
Uniregistry – operates new TLDs, such as .click, .photo, and .game, among others
CentralNic – operates new TLDs, such as .xyz, .online, and .site, among others
Minds + Machines – operates new TLDs, such as .vip, .luxe, and .law, among others
Amazon Registry Services – operates new TLDs, such as .aws, .book, and .music, among others
Will the cost and management fees be the same as the other domain registries?
The basic cost to operate a registry are generally the same from registry to registry. If you’re asking, will the cost to purchase/register a domain name be the same as the pricing as other registries, no.
.HipHop’s basic wholesale price is $20 to Registrars like GoDaddy, NameCheap, Hover, etc. The registrars can mark up the cost however they’d like to the end-user.
Like many registries, .HipHop also has several Premium Pricing Tiers for more valuable domain names. These wholesale premium pricing tiers are as much as $10k.
Will the process of signing up be the similar?
Yes. The process to purchasing/registering a .HipHop domain name is the same as doing so for .com, .club, .org, .xyz, .io, .co, etc., etc.. You simply go to the registrar of choice (I.e. GoDaddy, Hover, NameCheap, etc.), search the .HipHop domain name you wish to register, and purchase that name if its available.
Super simple! Even more simple, you can visit, get.hiphop (.HipHop Domain Registry (get.hiphop)) and do you search there.
How long should it take .hiphop to make a difference should your projects/plans take off? How many folks needed to register? Your projections?
From a business perspective, that is a question that my partners Monte Cahn and/or Jeff Neuman can answer much better than me. They are both consider pioneers in the domaining industry and are certainly both experts in the field.
Further, from a business perspective, we will only need roughly 10k to 15k people or so to register to operate profitably—as I understand.
However, from a cultural perspective, how long should it take for .HipHop to make a difference should my plans take hold? I’d say by the end of 2024 (est. 18 to 19 months), if my vision for the culture comes to fruition, the socioeconomic positioning of the Hip Hop community, would be established in a new narrative. One where we own the means to production, vs. Being the product produced.
Thoughts on folks using the term hip hop vs rap and the over glorification material and violence which is pretty much 95% of what is so-called hip hop today?
Hip Hop and rap are not one in the same. How do we know? To suggest otherwise would mean that Kool Herc would be credited with inventing rap. Has anyone, EVER, in any form or fashion suggested such a thing? No. The reason being is simple. Hip Hop and rap are not the same.
Thus, the interchangeability of the words is clearly a result of the commercialization of the culture and for the sake of “the bag”, the desperate being told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, whereby the truth is thoroughly disregarded, misappropriated, bastardized and discarded so that a people are easily mislead or completely eradicated “in fact” or by knowledge.
It then goes without saying, the possibly with the exception of fashion, why the glorification of violent material is so valued in Rap music and Hip Hop genre entertainment.
Favorite mixtape DJ(s), stylewriter(s)???
I don’t have a favorite mixtape Dj. My favorite mixtape however is from Fab. My list of writers range from artist like Mos Def to Ludacris, to Lil Wayne and Eminem, to Fabulous, Jay-z, Nas and Tupac.
Favorite spot(s) in the city to see some real hip hop culture?
Hip Hop is who I am, not what I do. So most of the boroughs in NYC have real representation of Hip Hop culture. Interestingly enough, most of these places are areas the average person would likely feel uncomfortable going.
Last words or shout outs?
Shoutout to KayDee of Out There Promotions of course for making things happen. The world of Hip Hop needs to know about .HipHop. KayDee is leading the way.
Shout out to my DigitalAMN family for supporting me on the investment of resources into Dot Hip Hop, LLC (“.HipHop”).
BIG shout out to my partners and team at .HipHop for making all this a possibility.
Without their expertise, the business and related business of of .HipHop would not have the ability to potentially become a Multi-Billion Dollar enterprise. More important, without their empathy and genuine support for my cultural ambition of giving Hip Hop back to the culture, the community would not have the chance to take back its future.
So thank you Monte Cahn, Jeff Neuman and Scott Pruitt!
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EDITOR: La Mont
IMAGE: .HipHop/Ajene Watson