What does “OG” mean? And how to become an NFT OG

The term OG gets thrown around a lot in the crypto and NFT worlds, but what does it mean exactly? We break down the meaning of OG.

Key Points

  • OG stands for "Original Gangster" and is characterized as someone who has earned respect in a particular field due to the trials and tribulations they have experienced over their long history in that field. 

  • The term OG is used in many subcultures with its own nuance and usage, but it is almost always a positive term even if the usage simply conveys the idea of "a previous generation" or "the first" one of many that followed.

  • NFTs are still in very early days, so there isn’t a broad consensus on who the current OGs are in the NFT world. 

  • People entering the NFT scene in the current cycle may be considered OGs in 5 years, so long as they continue to engage in the scene.

  • A non-person, such as an NFT project, may also be given an OG designation. These projects tend to be more established projects from 2017/2018 or earlier. OG designations for projects more closely align with the definition of being the "first" or "early" in their category while at the same time conveying that they are respectable projects.


What does OG Stand For?

OG stands for "Original Gangster".

You may sometimes see it written as "O.G." (with initials), but this is rare as "OG" (without initials) is by far the preferred notation on social media and in text messages.

You may also see it written in its lowercase form as "og", but its capitalized form is more common.

Since "OG" is an initialism, each letter is pronounced individually, therefore it is pronounced as "Oh Gee" .

What does OG mean?

When someone is labeled an "OG" it generally means that person has earned respect in a particular field due to their long history in that field.  

For example, "He is an OG auto mechanic" may mean that such a person has been working on cars for many years, possibly before the common use of computer diagnostics, and may be skilled at tools and techniques that younger mechanics do not know.

In some use cases, "OG" can simply mean "of a pervious generation" or "the first", but still carries a positive connotation.

For example, "Sean Connery is the OG James Bond".  In this case "OG" express the fact that Sean Connery was the first of many to play James Bond.  

Nuances of "old school" (classic) and "an original" are also associated with the term OG.

Origins of the term OG

To better understand the term OG, it can be helpful to dig into its origins.

According to an essay written by Steve Champion and Anthony Ross called The Making of an O.G.: Transcending Gang Mentality, "O.G." was first used by the Crips, a Los Angeles based gang.

The term spread through gang culture, but didn't enter popular culture until the 1990's when hip-hop music became mainstream. 

In particular, ICE-T's, O.G. Original Gangster (released in 1991)served to popularized the term.

Over the years, the term spread through many different subcultures, including crypto.  OG, therefore, can be described as a "Lindy" term.

Punk 6529's definition of OG

Punk 6529's definition of OG

The "Lindy Effect", basically means that the longer something (for example, an idea) is alive, the longer it will remain alive.  Since the term OG started in the 70's and is still moving through various subcultures today, the chances of it continuing to grow in usage is highly likely, according to this effect.

What does OG mean in Crypto/NFTs?

In crypto, "OG" is widely used in the same way as in other subcultures, in that it typically means the person has had a long history in crypto, with the nuance that they have remained active through multiple boom and bust cycles.

The difficulty in labeling someone an OG in crypto, and in particular the world of NFTs, is that the space is very new and there hasn't been a long history in this field - therefore there aren't many true "OGs".

Bitcoin is the oldest cryptocurrency (the Bitcoin whitepaper was published in 2008) and therefore has the longest history.  As a result, it is easier to identify Bitcoin OGs.

Generally speaking, a Bitcoin OG is someone who has remained active in the Bitcoin community since 2013 or earlier.

Some examples of Bitcoin OGs would be Andreas Antonopoulos (author and crypto educator) Adam Back (cryptographer), and Vitalik Buterin (founder of Ethereum, but also early Bitcoin community member).

While it is possible to call a Bitcoin OG a "crypto OG", you do need to be careful that some OGs may be offended by the "crypto" label.  There are some in the Bitcoin community (known as Bitcoin Maximalists) that only believe in Bitcoin and do not considered themselves to be a part of the broader crypto community.

Who are the NFT OGs?

The Ethereum NFT standard, ERC-721, was implemented in 2018. Before 2018, there were projects that generally fit the idea of NFTs on a blockchain, but their history is still relatively short.

Related: Who started NFTs?

Given the short history in this space, it is difficult to label someone an "NFT OG".

However, people who have been involved in NFTs from 2017/2018 or earlier (and have continued their involvement since that time) may be considered an OG in the NFT world.

What are OG NFT Projects?

In the NFT world, it is actually much more common to see projects labeled as "OG" rather than people.

For example, you may see charts and tables that list "OG NFT Projects".  While there is no broad consensus on the definition of an OG project, generally they are projects from 2017/2018 or earlier that are respected in the community.

CryptoPunks is the classic example of an OG NFT project since it was launched in 2017; is well respected by the NFT community; and is a project that helped define what would become the Ethereum NFT standard, ERC-721.

CryptoKitties is another OG NFT project in that it was launched in 2017 and, like CryptoPunks, helped define the NFT standard.

How to become an NFT OG?

The first thing to note is that it would be a bit faux pas to label yourself an OG. Since being an OG is generally a term of respect, it should be bestowed to you by others in the community.

That said, if you want to earn the title of OG, you would need to remain active in the NFT space through the boom and bust cycles.

Given that the space is so new, it is possible to become an OG if you are currently active in this space now and remain active over the next 5 years or so.

The reason for this timeframe is 3 fold:

1. In 5 years or so, NFTs will likely be much more mainstream, making people entering now the earliest of adopters.

2. The tools and knowledge required to be active in the NFT space in 5 years will likely be much easier than it is today.  Which is to say that those who are active now in the space require a certain commitment to learning about NFTs as well as some risk tolerance.

3. Over a 5 year period, people active now will likely experience at least one full boom and bust cycle.

On all points you can see that OG potential is there  - if you can hang in for long enough 🙂

And if you really want to get to that OG status, you can gain bonus points by actively building, educating, or even collecting NFTs in such a way that you support creators.  

Final Thoughts

"OG" is a "super-Lindy" term that has made its way from 1970's gang culture all the way to the crypto and NFT scene of today.

While the term is used liberally in many subcultures, to actually be an OG can take time and effort.

If you have what it takes, maybe we'll be calling you an NFT OG in a few years.

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About the Author
Ed is NFTska’s lead Editor and Author based in the Los Angeles area.  He fell deep down the crypto rabbit hole starting in 2017.  Ed actively participates in and follows the fast changing NFT scene. Learn more about Ed.

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