Apl.de.Ap is a mover and a shaker from any angle. With over 80 million records sold over a two decade career that has seen the group’s music become the soundtrack to dance parties around the world, his Black Eyed Peas are now synonymous with a daring confluence of music, visual art, dance, and fashion. The diverse creative and cultural backgrounds of the Black Eyed Peas’ members is key to their global appeal — and no member of the group is more global than Apl.de.Ap.

Born Allan Pineda in Pampanga, Philippines, Apl.de.Ap’s rise to stardom is testament to the incredible creative talent bubbling up in South East Asia. And whether it’s advocating for education with “We Can Be Anything,” coaching future stars on The Voice of the Philippines, or collabing with Pinoy artist Ryan Cayabyab at the Southeast Asian Games —  Apl.deA.Ap has spent his career opening doors for emerging filipinos.

While Apl’s mission has grown from music and fashion to social justice and lifting up others around the world, his knack for pushing the boundaries is as lightning sharp as ever. Now, Apl.deAp has found a whole new way to lift up the next generation of global artists — An NFT drop with Portion. Live on 5.24 at 1 PM EST, Apl.de.Ap, in collaboration with artists AJ Dimarucot, and Tom Coben, will release four exclusive digital works, each with 88 editions, that feature music from his upcoming releases. And it’s all a part of a mission to create channels for South-East Asian artists to capture the value from their incredible talent.

We interviewed Apl.de.Ap to learn more about his upcoming Portion drop in his own words...

Welcome to the wild world of blockchain.

This is a first of first! This release on Portion is my first NFT drop, along with an amazing opportunity to further expand the global understanding of the Pinoy (Filipino) culture and aesthetics with new media formats. Initially, I created the music to cater to Filipinos and Asians across the diaspora as something unique and distinct from the type music I make as a (Black Eyed) Pea. The culture of NFTs and crypto are about communication. As an artist I want to share by bringing these two missions together.

How did the mission of this drop come about?

I’ve always made it my mission to include my love for the Philippines in all my work, from  fashion or philanthropy. Throughout history, Filipino art— as well as art in developing nations overall — has suffered disadvantages: everything from exposure to pricing and market creation and expansion. This with a widening gap in disparity. In 2018, my team and I traveled throughout the country creating meetups and activations for creatives in the Philippines. We listened to too many stories about graphic designers who were getting paid next to nothing for logo and branding designs, and others who weren’t being compensated at all for their work. I am working on raising capital for Filipino creatives to showcase their talent and heart with NFTs, to find new ways to create a more fair reality.

What stands out about this drop compared to what you’ve seen from the NFT boom so far?

I think the art collection from AJ and Tom will resonate with collectors and enthusiasts on every level. First, the art is carefully executed. It’s not an NFT for the sake of being an NFT. It’s not just a photo of some real world object to cash in on the hype of this moment. The visuals, whether drawn, painted, captured on film or digital, stands on its own merit as a piece that any collector would be proud to own and add to their collection.

Historically, the Philippines has been a global hub of design talent that is leveraged by Western corporations seeking high quality design work. Having heard and understood the impact of the pay disparity by Fortune 500 companies and how they outsource creative work to his motherland inspired Apl. In 2018, Apl.de.Ap toured The Philippines, activating creative group meets with ‘The Creative Entrepreneur Program’ providing jobs and mentoring to participants. Also, via his non-profit, The Apl.de.Ap Foundation he founded and funded a creative entrepreneur scholarship for 25 creatives to obtain certificates in business. One of those students, AJ, a graphic designer, is creating two of the NFT’s.

The Philippines today has the largest generation of young people in its history. 30 million young people between the ages of 10-24 account for 28% of the population. Of which, 94% of Filipino 18-29-year-olds identify as active internet users with the capacity to leverage new decentralized technologies like NFTs. Imagine what could come out of Manila and other growing Filipino cities if young creatives and professionals were able to set the price for their work on par with the international market. It would pose an incredible opportunity for these communities to build wealth.

Apl.de.Ap is showcasing the burgeoning Pinoy digital design scene by highlighting how NFT technology can liberate Pinoy artists. By design, a portion of the proceeds from this NFT sale will go to the First Mint Fund, a South-East Asian crypto fund that is managed by AJ Dimarucot, which pays the gas fees for South-East Asian artists looking to mint their first NFT. A portion of the proceeds from Apl x Tom Coben NFT collection will go to a scholarship program that enables creatives to earn a business certificate at Thames International business school in Manila.

Read more coverage from Decrypt.

Tune into the drop on 5.24 at 10 AM PST / 1 PM EST.

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