As the ever-evolving world of hip-hip continues to expand, so will the prominent rap Gods along with it. In the 1990s, we watched the greats battle for the Hip-Hop crown with fierce lyrics consisting of double entendres, metaphors and a sh– load of wit. As rappers ‘bought the suburbs to the hood’ like Jay Z insists and tours continued to sell out, albums went platinum; the focus on who was generating the most revenue became the major subject in Hip-Hop in early 2000s. Though millions of dollars were generated by guys like Jay Z, Diddy, 50 Cent, Nas and few more, it was always in the realm of entertainment.
Though these major Hip-Hop figures have earned the title of savvy businessmen by making very smart business move throughout the years; none of them have pivoted into world of investment banking. This is why it’s refreshing to hear about Nas, as a notable investor in technology companies, is in the early stages as a venture capitalist. Nas once rhymed, “It’s not what you do but how it’s done”, well Nasir Jones has played “Hip-Hop hustler game” better than any other rapper thus far by opening everyone’s eye to the endless possibilities of being an early investor in a company that can become a billion dollar enterprise. Nas has quietly led the fort with his venture capital firm, Queensbridge Venture Partners which has invested in over 40 companies and counting. The firm is known for investing early in some of the most technological advancing companies like Lyft, Dropbox, Mass Appeal, Genius p/k/a Rap Genius and the list goes on. Nas founded the venture firm with manager and business partner Anthony Saleh.
We don’t hear much about the world of venture capital because that’s just not the norm for the average person but every entrepreneur knows that’s where the big boys dangle checks in front of you in exchange for a percentage of your company, if it’s promising. Queensbridge Venture Partners typically makes seed funding investment commitments in new start-ups in the range of $100,000 to $500,000, which is nothing to sneeze at. Nasir Jones is considered an astute businessman these days, and has no plans of slowing down in the expansion of his portfolio.
Recently Shawn Carter, who just received 200 million from Sprint for a 33% stake in Tidal, has announced that he’s also diving into the VC world to extend his portfolio. Of course Jay Z had to do it on his own terms by testing the market as a shrewd investor fist before forming his recent venture firm, titled “Arrive”. Jay Z is not new to the investments as one would imagine, sources have revealed that Jay Z was early to invest in tech starts-ups like Uber, JetSmarter and a plethora of other successful start-ups that have scaled over the years. The new venture capital firm will be in partnership with Primary Venture Partners. Primary is a New York City-based early stage venture capital firm that focuses on e-commerce and tech companies. Everyone is waiting to see what companies the new VC firm will decide to fund first and how will they play a role growing the brand.
It will be interesting to see what other Hip-Hop figures follow suit in Nas and Jay Z’s footsteps by forming their own VC firms. This is a great space for Hip-Hop to be in, in my opinion. Nothing like giving the next generation a chance to share their unique ideas with the world and scale relatively fast with some backing. Sometimes, pitching your idea to someone that may not relate to your background or understanding of your unique niche has it own barriers of entry, but hopefully these guys can help bring some diversity to the overall VC funded enterprises.