Watch: Hamilton and Satoshi Nakamoto debate bitcoin in a rap battle

Alexander Hamilton (Lloyd Ahlquist) and Satoshi Nakamoto (Timothy DeLaGhetto).
Alexander Hamilton (Lloyd Ahlquist) and Satoshi Nakamoto (Timothy DeLaGhetto).
Image: YouTube/Rhyme Combinator
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Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, hired actors to stage a rap battle about the future of money last week. Inspired by the musical Hamilton, Hoffman said he decided to use music to highlight the “vigorous debate raging between cryptocurrency and centralized currencies.”

“While battle rap is obviously competitive in nature, what I realized watching Hamilton is that it’s also a form of discourse where extremely attentive listening routinely occurs,” he wrote in a LinkedIn post. “Because battle raps are won and lost based on who presents ideas and arguments in the most clever, funny, and linguistically creative ways, participants and listeners alike pay close attention to what’s being said.”

Hoffman’s rap battle pits Alexander Hamilton, the architect of the American financial system, against Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous creator of bitcoin. While Hamilton defends central banks and regulation, he paints cryptocurrencies as crime-infested and environmentally damaging. For each attack though, Nakamoto has a retort.

“The banks serve Wall Street, crypto serves all streets,” rhymes bitcoin’s creator. Accused of contributing to global warming, Nakamoto chides paper money for using up trees. More than anything, the characters repeat common straw-man arguments against one another, reflecting financiers’ unwillingness to recognize when bitcoin is useful, and the failure of crypto ideologues to acknowledge bitcoin’s severe limitations.

As a partner at Greylock Capital (and thus investor in Coinbase and Xapo), Hoffman was one of the earliest bitcoin converts in the venture capitalist ranks. In his post, Hoffman explains that he remains intrigued by crypto as an asset, a currency, and platform for “alternative kinds of financial applications.”

The full lyrics to the rap battle are available on Genius.com.