Most of us have come to agree that discussing cryptocurrency is embarrassing—especially when you’re not the one getting rich. But it’s also pretty cringeworthy when you are. Now imagine rapping about it.
Arya Bahmanyar, 28, lives his nights and weekends as CoinDaddy, an emotionally-volatile rapper heavily invested in the ebbs and flows of bitcoin.
Raised in the Bay Area and currently residing in the painfully uncool East Bay suburb of Walnut Creek (by choice), Bahmanyar created CoinDaddy in a cryptocurrency trading chat room too exclusive for him to disclose to me by name. In the fall of 2017, Bahmanyar, who recently began living full time off his earnings from cryptocurrency, started a hobby to keep himself busy: he wrote a song about losing a bitcoin in a bad trade and sent it to other traders in the chat.
“We all thought it was the worst thing we had ever heard in our entire lives, so we decided to do more of it,” he explains in a brisk, businessy rant.
The first CoinDaddy songs played in the background of a YouTube coin trade livestream. “People were like, ‘What is this awesome shit I am being forced to listen to?’ and they loved it,” he says. From there, his YouTube channel began to grow and what began as a joke gained a life of its own.
CoinDaddy frequently refers to himself in the third person. At a certain point of perceived popularity, he determined—consider that, as of writing, CoinDaddy’s most popular YouTube video has only around 20,000 views—a more concrete character needed to be formed for CoinDaddy. “He has to be the worst person ever,” Bahmanyar says. So naturally, he began curating a costume: a Flava Flav-esque clock, a white faux fur coat (price tag: $60), white hat, and a bitcoin symbol chain. He started donning the costume at crypto meetups and happy hours in San Francisco. People would ask: “Who are you?” and he would confidently answer: “I’m CoinDaddy.”
Mimicking the clear-diction-meets-creepy-drawl of white rappers like Mickey Avalon, Necro, and Jon Lajoie, CoinDaddy’s songs are exactly what you may expect. In “Blood vs. Crypto,” he namedrops multiple cryptocurrencies with a hook that plays off of a pun based on the Bloods vs. Crips gang rivalry.
In one of his most popular tracks, “Crypto Life,” CoinDaddy paints himself as a rags-to-riches ladies man. But IRL CoinDaddy is disappointed by the lack of lady callers in his DMs. “I wish I could get a salacious DM every now and again, but I never get any. I just get ‘hey can you teach me crypto?’”, the not-so-suave rapper confides.
Like many rappers, CoinDaddy stresses his “humble” beginnings—both in this interview and his lyrics (with plenty of hyperbole). In real life, Arya is not a tech dude. But crypto is rarely a rags-to-riches story. It’s usually more of a North Face-to-riches one.
After graduating with a business degree from George Washington University in 2011, he moved to New York City looking for work and ended up in a crammed apartment with four other people. In 2013, he found himself at a bitcoin meetup in Manhattan and after was invited to one of the founders’ apartments for a bitcoin tutorial. This led to him buying in despite being terrified of the risk. “He told me to put in what I had. ‘Just put in your cash, you’ll make it work,’” he recalls. “I was scared shitless, my hand was shaking on the mouse. I couldn’t even click. My heart was beating through my eyeballs.”
From there, he laid low and held—or as the crypto community calls it, HODL (hold on for dear life). He watched bitcoin rise to a thousand dollars and then plummet to two hundred, while staying quiet and working in commercial real estate—until 2017, when bitcoin rose to its peak of close to twenty thousand dollars, over 320 times his initial investment, the sum of which he will not disclose.
CoinDaddy is not making money from rapping. In fact, he may be losing money. His seven Patreon patrons certainly aren’t paying the bills. He admits that starting the Patreon was mostly a joke, and its results have been “sad.” While living “modestly” off of his crypto-earnings isn’t too fun of a subject for rap lyrics, the ups and downs of the cryptocurrency ecosystem serve as inspiration for what CoinDaddy says is “infotainment rap.”
“I have songs called ‘The Siphoning’ and ‘Tethered.’ Those two songs are legitimately about what was going on at the time they were written,” he says. “They’re almost like news pieces tied around absurdism and extremism. bitcoin changes so much that when its up, he’s [CoinDaddy] a baller. But when it goes down, suddenly you have scenes of CoinDaddy on the street and his pimp outfit is tattered. He has to work at McDonald’s. You never know where he stands; he goes with the market.”
Next up for CoinDaddy is a “Stan”-inspired rap about LiteCoin. CoinDaddy will star as both the superstar LiteCoin founder Charlie Lee and his obsessed stalker-turned-fan in the music video. (CoinDaddy’s videos and beats are, as you might expect, self-produced.)
“Everyone is so serious,” he says of the crypto community. “Everyone’s talking about money, about scaling, the blockchain, my coin is better than your coin. Nobody is like, no man, you’re all acting like children. Thats where CoinDaddy came in—let’s break the tension. It’s all absurd, but the irony is that it’s actually starting to get good.”
It’s all part-informative, part-parody, and occasionally sincere. CoinDaddy could attempt the Weird Al road toward niche-parody fame, but that isn’t what he’s going for. He wants to collaborate with A-listers like Kanye West, who he claims is a “match made in heaven from an egotistical perspective,” and to follow in the footsteps of Pitbull in hosting cultural events including—but not limited to—Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.
While tech dudes are notorious for their delusions of grandeur and cockiness, CoinDaddy claims that after a mention in a New York Times article, he’s been contacted nonstop by everyone from reality-TV producers to music video directors. The dream is being kept alive for a reason: Aside from the flow of crypto-funding, CoinDaddy says he has yet to experience a backlash from listeners. He’s even inspired a scene of other cryptocurrency rappers to sprout up (and outperform him), including teamHODL, who have over seventy thousand views on their most popular video. “Believe it or not, it’s been one hundred percent positive,” he says. “It’s absurd. There’s not one negative comment on my YouTube, I’m shocked.”
I was shocked too. Especially when I dug up a video for a song called “REKT,” where CoinDaddy repeatedly uses the N-word in the three-word chorus: “rekt, nigga you rekt (4x).” When asked about his word choice, triggering the only long pause in our conversation, the white rapper said, “You need to realize the context in which it was said. The new songs [all songs are less than six months old] are more conscious. Anyone who listens will see that it’s just silly and stupid.”
Him calling CoinDaddy “the worst person ever” now makes more sense.