Hip-hop legend Method Man has joined his peers investing in the metaverse by partnering with motion-graphic artist Jonathan Winbush to create one of the first comic books for the metaverse: the MEFaverse. Supported by Wu-Tang Clan’s members, including their CMO, Ray Acosta, who is part owner of the MEFaverse, Method Man’s MEFaverse intersects with hip-hop culture, gaming, art and technology.
“Hip-hop blends art forms to create innovative ways of entertaining, understanding and expressing oneself,” explains Winbush. “Having a place like the MEFaverse for his community to create, interact, game and experience virtual performances felt like a natural progression for Method Man.”
Through the community, Method Man hopes to represent diverse voices and creators. Winbush, Acosta and Method Man recently discussed the process of building a comic book in the metaverse, the goals for the project and how motion-capture technology was used to bring together the MEFaverse.
How did you and Method Man start collaborating?
Jonathan Winbush: “Method Man loves comic books and he runs the official Marvel podcast. I’ve worked on Marvel films before, so they (Method Man and Ray Acosta Wu-Music CMO) organically came across my portfolio. Method Man wanted to create a version of himself, but as a superhero in the metaverse. My approach was to design him in 3D. I took a photo of him and created a 3D sculpture of him in a couple of different poses and outfits. I worked closely with him to understand what features he wanted to bring out in his avatar. From then on, we started working on developing a roadmap for the MEFaverse, incorporating as many interactive elements as possible. We looked to build a comic book world influenced by the community. Method Man was inspired by Fortnight, which started as a shooter game, but has become interactive and has used the community's feedback to develop (it further).”
Why create a comic book in the metaverse?
Winbush: “Community is at the heart of Method Man’s success. He recognizes that and wanted to create a place to connect with his fans. Through the MEFaverse, he gets to empower his community. There was a time we saw a comment on Twitter from a veteran who said that he was never represented in games or virtual events. We understood that frustration and we let him test out the MEFaverse. We created an avatar that looked like him that used a wheelchair. He was so moved by that experience. That spurred us on to create more ‘metamasks’ or PFPs, which you use to enter the game with different traits to represent our community. Method Man’s motivation in creating the MEFaverse was to show his fans their powers, their unique traits that make them who they are but in the superhero realm.”
Ray Acosta: “We're taking chances and bringing something new to the table. It's priceless to create the first graphic novel in the metaverse with utilities that benefit the community.”
In bringing the superheroes to life, how did you decide on what technology to use?
Winbush: “The EDM DJ, DeadMau5, was beta testing a mixed-reality event. Hearing afterward how impressed he was with the Movella Xsens Link suit (https://www.xsens.com
), and that he did not need to recalibrate the suit for over 60 minutes of use, I felt confident in using Movella’s Xsens motion-capture technology to use to put Method Man in the MEFaverse. I chose the MVN Awinda suit. It's also really easy to transport, practical and doesn’t impact the way you move - which naturally is crucial when you’re translating movement from one reality to another.”
What does the MEFaverse mean for you as an artist?
Winbush: “Working in the metaverse has been a game-changer for artists. Artists can control the production and distribution of their digital art. I am finally seeing my friends celebrated for their work and having their names attached to metaverse-related projects. I only work on projects where I am named as a collaborator. For example, the MEFaverse - it’s made by Winbush and Method Man. Working in the metaverse has transported artists like me into the limelight.”
Method Man: “The trajectory of the NFT/Web3 space as a whole, in my opinion, only has one direction to go: up. I see no reason why it wouldn't as brands and individuals realize the unique opportunities and potential this space offers, as well as the utility it provides. That said, my hope is that it can continue to grow while remaining mindful of values such as inclusivity and positivity, which are both pillars of the MEFaverse community.”
Currently, the MEFaverse is in its second to third quarter of development for 2022. The team is working on volume 2 of the MEFaverse, which includes having surprise appearances in the graphic novel and live ticket giveaways.