Depending on when you were first introduced to Nas, you might remember him from way back when he dropped his debut album Illmatic in 1994. If you’re a little younger, you might’ve been first introduced to him as the guy who bodied Jay Z on Ether back in 2001. Or maybe you didn’t know who he was until reports released of him nearly filling for bankruptcy due to large amounts of debt. Either way, Nas has been around forever. But the guy you knew five years ago, might be different than the one you’d interact with as of late.
In December 2013, he joined then, 29-year old Tristan Walker as an investor in Walker & Company, the parent company behind Bevel. He would join long time investors Andreessen Horowitz and WME partner Charles King to help kick start the launch of the $2.4 million company. If you’re unfamiliar with Bevel, it’s a grooming and style company for men of color. It’s also the introductory product to what will eventually grow to become the Proctor & Gamble for people of color. Nas touched on his introduction to Walker in an interview with Forbes. “I’ve had the chance to spend some time with Tristan and I’m so impressed with how Walker & Company has been shaping up. I actually happened to be the first person he ever pitched his company to,” said Nas. Five years ago, investing wouldn’t have been the conversation anyone would think to have with him. Unless, of course, it involved a quick record deal.
But apparently Nas hasn’t stopped at Bevel. Him and his manager Anthony Saleh have invested in nearly 100 startups under his LA-based imprint Queensbridge Venture Partners. You might recognize some of them. Lyft, Rap Genius and LANDR to name a few. LANDR is a post music-production service helps master music for more than 300,000 musicians. But the list goes on. It also includes Dropbox, Virgin Media, and Caarbon, a personal valet company.
But just why did Nas get involved in investing? “I’ve always wanted to be surrounded by the smartest people in the world, and didn’t want to limit that to just music,” he wrote in an interview with CNBC. “I want to meet the people who are innovating in all different fields, and investing lets me do that.” Nowadays, Queensbridge invest on average $100,000-$500,00 in about 20 companies per year. But it was his initial investment in Rap Genius where it all started. From there, super investor Horowitz has passed Nas a ton of deals. Not bad for the now, 42-year old who dropped out of school in the 8th grade.
Nas is proof that regardless of your circumstances, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. While music may not be at the forefront anymore, it’ll take some time before he’s seen in the same vein of rappers turned moguls Diddy and Jay-Z. But he’s well on his way. In addition to Queensbridge, Nas also runs his clothing line HSTRY. The clothing line recently teamed up with the Ghostbusters franchise for a special collaboration which can be seen in the video below. If Nas is any example of what can happen, it can happen for you as well. His only advice: “find the projects that are going to generate a return, and you have to invest your time and energy, not just your money.”