Move over Diddy, Jay-Z, and Dr. Dre. There’s a new player vying for the final spot on the Mount Rushmore of almost-billionaire hip-hop moguls and it’s none other than Queensbridge’s finest, Nas.

Over the past few years, Nas has been somewhat flying under the radar as a tech investor. While Diddy, Jay-Z and Dr. Dre have been making their millions through more sexy and mainstream industries like music and consumer products, Nas is carving out his own niche as a Silicon Valley tech investor through his Los Angeles-based company Queensbridge Venture Partners.

A quick glance at Nas’ angel.co profile shows Dropbox, NationBuilder, musical knowledge platform Genius, Uber ride sharing competitor Lyft, and hip-hop magazine Mass Appeal as some of his investments, but it’s his investment in video doorbell and smart-home tech company Ring that’s making noise.

In late February, Amazon acquired Ring for an estimated $1.2 billion. It’s expected that the acquisition will support Amazon’s recently launched Amazon Key service which allows designated people, such as delivery people, keyless access to your home. As one of Ring’s early investor, Nas is reportedly set to earn $40 million on the transaction.

So how did Nas go from one of the top five rappers of all time to tech investor? His secret sauce is his understanding of the average consumer, as well as his team, including business partner and manager Anthony Saleh.

In a 2016 interview with the New Yorker, Saleh summarized their partnership stating, “Sometimes as people who really know a lot about a lot and know a lot about great people, we tend to overlook the practicality of certain things, and that is where Nas is so gifted…We’re sitting here analyzing the business plan, we’re all talking business school talk non-stop, going back and forth, and we’re completely overlooking the things that consumers care about the most. And that’s been a tremendous value to us. As someone who’s consistently thinking about business, I have a guy who’s thinking about the little guy who actually has to dig into his pockets and buy a product, and you couldn’t ask for a better marriage.”

Hip-hop has seen many legendary duos from Eric B. and Rakim to Diddy and Biggie to Damon Dash and Jay-Z. Nas and Anthony Saleh might just be the next hip-hop duo to look out for.

Kevin Bourne

 

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