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3 Things We Can Learn From Jay-Z and Nas’s Business Investments

Business

Sure hip-hop titans Nas and Jay-Z are known for being two of the best hip-hop artists of all time, but what many people don’t know is that the two kings of New York are also making major moves as venture capitalists; Nas with QueensBridge Venture Partners, while Jay-Z of course has the ever growing Roc Nation, and the recently launched ARRIVE.


Jay Z. Photo courtesy of Radio.com

While most hip-hop entrepreneurs are investing in the usual money makers like apparel and alcoholic beverages, both Nas and Jay-Z are setting precedent within the hip-hop community by investing in startups, focusing on technology, thinking outside of the box, and not being afraid to take calculated risks.

Although your pockets may not yet be as deep as Nasir Jones’s and Shawn Carter’s, here are three pointers to keep in mind once you are ready to start investing those big bucks that you’ve been working so hard at earning.

1. Invest in Startups

The National Venture Capital Association reports that almost $60 billion were deployed to startup companies in 2015. No wonder both Jay-Z and Nas are becoming two of music’s most lucrative angel investors. Using artificial intelligence and big data for music production, LANDR is one of Nas and QueensBridge Venture Partner’s latest investments. YUL Ventures, Warner Music Group, and a host of other firms are also investing in LANDR, which is used to help over 300,000 musicians master their music in the post-production phase.

As for Jay, he believes in startups so much that in March of this year his entertainment company Roc Nation launched ARRIVE, a venture capital firm that will offer a variety of services to early stage startup companies. According to a press release released by Roc Nation, the venture capital firm will help startups with everything from business development to brand services. “We’ve opened that diversified, global range of expertise to a new vertical: entrepreneurs and their early stage businesses,” said Neil Sirni, Roc Nation’s Head of New Ventures.

2. Technology Is The Way To Go

One visit to Nas’s QueensBridge Venture Partners website and it’s pretty clear to see that his firm is all about staying on the cutting edge of technology. The website reads: “Over 100 years of experience operating at the intersection of technology, financial markets and popular culture.”

According to reports by KPMG Enterprise and CB Insights, although there is a downturn in the market, now is the perfect time to invest in technology. In 2015 alone there was more than $128 billion invested in tech companies worldwide (CNBC). It makes perfect sense then that both Jay-Z and Nas would get in on some of these investments. Jay-Z was one of the early investors in the now multi-billion dollar company Uber when it was worth 300 million, and Nas’s QueensBridge Venture Partners has invested in Lyft and Dropbox among many other tech related companies.

Nas. Photo courtesy of All-American Entertainment

3. Think Outside of The Box and Take Risks

When Jay-Z couldn’t get a record label to sign him he partnered with two friends and created his own record label. While Nas’s rise to meteoric heights was a bit different, his ability to bet on himself and take risks throughout his career has been very similar. Nas has never been one to rely on a pop single to take his albums to the top of the charts. Throughout his career, the subject matter of his rhymes and his unwavering ability to be his authentic self in his music, have continued to place him in a class of his own. In short, he’s always chosen the road less traveled and has earned the respect of the hip-hop community and music world at large because of it. Not to mention, the Queensbridge rapper dropped out of school before reaching the 9th grade so that he could pursue a career in music.

Needless to say, when it comes to thinking outside of the box and taking risks, Jay and Nas have been doing it for the length of their careers, which have spanned more than two decades. In terms of their business investments, they are following a similar playbook by investing in everything from health care to private jets, and even socks.

Although Jay-Z’s investment in private jet company BlackJet proved to be unsuccessful, it didn’t stop him from investing in another Uber-like private jet service, JetSmarter just a few years later. But this hasn’t been his only risky business move. In 2011, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation imprint invested in premium sock company, Stance. Never quite making it to household name status, Jay’s foray into the sock industry was definitely not a guaranteed come up. One year later he invested in Viddy, which was supposed to be the “Instagram of video”. The company was shut down in December of 2014, and sold to Fullscreen for $20 million. Even though Jay may have made some money off of that investment, it is not flaunted as one of his better business moves.

Then there’s Tidal. While some people may consider Jay-Z’s investment in the music streaming service as his biggest blunder, others see it as a testament to Mr. Carter’s confidence. Back in 2015, Jay partnered with a group of musicians to purchase Aspiro AB, Tidal’s parent company, for $56 million. According to the Wall Street Journal, that same year Aspiro AB reported a net loss of $28 million.

Sure his stake in Tidal with streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify already existing was a dangerous move, but as they often say in the streets where Jay and Nas were groomed, “scared money don’t make money.” Despite still lagging behind streaming services like Spotify, it seems as if Jay has no plans of slowing down with Tidal anytime soon. His latest album, “4:44”, which went platinum in a cool five days, is the fastest album to go platinum in 2017, and was released exclusively on Tidal. Not to mention Sprint recently purchased 33 percent of the music streaming service. However, the fact still remains, Tidal has around 3 M subscribers while Spotify has upwards of 40 M paying subscribers. But we’re sure Jay’s not worried about it. We’re pretty confident him and Nas are somewhere plotting on the next big thing to throw their millions into as we speak.

Nas and Jay Z. Photo courtesy of The Source

6min read
Health

What Sexual Abuse Survivors Want You to Know

In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.


For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.

Believe it or not, I am happy about that.

The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.

It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).

These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.

So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.

Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.

The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."

In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.