As we celebrate Black History Month, Cheddar is highlighting prominent Black Americans who are carving their own historic paths and trailblazing in their industries. While Black History Month has become synonymous with reflecting on past achievements of Black Americans, it is important that we acknowledge today's historic feats as they happen.
This Dec. 20, 2012, file photo shows rapper and actor Nas, born Nasir Jones, posing in New York. (Photo by Scott Gries/Invision/AP Images, File)
Rap and music icon Nasir 'Nas' Jones has long been lauded for his lyrical ability and his 1994 debut album Illmatic has been praised as one of the best rap albums to ever be released. When he isn't in the studio cooking up the next hit, he's building up his financial portfolio.
In 2013, Nas, along with his manager Anthony Saleh, founded QueensBridge Venture Partners, and its focus has been investing in startups in the seed stage of development. His portfolio touts more than 100 businesses, including cigar companies and, notably, fintech firms. Nas was also one of the early investors in crypto exchange company Coinbase, cloud storage company Dropbox, and ride-hailing service Lyft — all of which have since gone public. In an interview with Vibe magazine, he said it's become more commonplace for people to praise his business moves than his sprawling music career.
"I met another Black man named Nasir; he's doing his thing. He told me how I'm inspirational to him in that world of investors and fundraising," he said. "That's really rewarding. It used to be only, 'I'm inspired by you to rap,' which I still hear, and I still love. But it's about letting people know, 'This is what I'm doing. You do it, too.'"
In this June 15, 2013 file photo, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, better known as Nas, performs at the 2013 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. (Photo by Wade Payne/Invision/AP, File)
Now, fans of Nas' business acumen and his rap career have an opportunity to buy a piece of the hip hop legend's music catalog — sort of. Earlier this year, Nas and Royal, a marketplace for music NFTs that Nas invested in last year, partnered with each other to let fans purchase a piece of the streaming rights to two songs from his most recent albums, King's Disease and Kings Disease II. At least 50 percent of the streaming rights were up for sale, but during a Twitter Spaces conversation, Nas stated that the move isn't about the money.
"This is just a way to see how doing something like this can build and expand with the core base that I got and encourage artists," he said.