It must be extremely difficult for giants to move in silence, but some have managed the task. Having achieved Ju Dan status, comparatively, in hip hop, it was only a matter of time that the mind that spawned some of the illest lyrics known to man, would apply that same acumen to other disciplines. This new challenge again sees him perched in the winner’s circle, but his victories have been quiet as a mouse. To put things in perspective, a collaboration of Nasir Jones, with any combination of a select few contemporaries––namely Shawn Carter, Curtis Jackson, Andre Young, Sean Combs, or Kayne West––could provide a sizable boost to the music industry, where they first achieved their notoriety. Now a collective partnership of those names could create industry.  

For Jones the entrepreneurial venture began in 2013, where Nasir, along with his manager Anthony Saleh, founded QueensBridge Venture Partners. In an interview at a Techfest panel hosted by the New Yorker, Nas revealed at a layman’s man response to his foray into the business world, “I always tell people that I came in the game as an artist and when I signed my contract with my record label, I instantly became a businessperson. I had some dreams of becoming a businessman as a small kid, but it really happened later on.” “Really happened” being the operative phrase as the focal point of his company which has been investing in startups in the seed stage of development, and now touts over 100 businesses. Included in the portfolio are early investments in crypto exchange company Coinbase, cloud storage company Dropbox, and ride-hailing service Lyft, as well as Ring, Pluto TV, and Robinhood. 

While business is booming for Mr. Jones, the business of his famed alter ego Nas, is set to take the nation by storm as Nas and fellow legends the Wu-Tang Clan are teaming up for the “NY State of Mind” tour, easily the year’s most talked-about rap show. The New York area appearance is slated for Tuesday, Sept. 13 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. and falls a day before Nas’ born day. We know already what the night gonna be. 

Ironically, the venue the Prudential Center, like Nas the co-headliner, is also in partnership with future business leaders with the Devils Buy Black Program. Through its partnership with Prudential Financial, the New Jersey Devils set an industry-first standard in the 2021-2022 National Hockey League (NHL) season by donating the Devils premier helmet brand position for 30 games to a Black-owned Newark-based business, driving unprecedented marketing and business exposure to the company. In the program’s third year, Prudential Financial will increase their helmet brand position donation by nearly 50%, to include all road games this season. New this year, former Devils Captain Bryce Salvador, along with current Devils players, will join the program, including the application process to review submissions and help select a winner. A veteran of 14 NHL seasons, Salvador, who served as the first Black captain in Devils franchise history, and third in NHL history, will join forces with the Devils to serve as a liaison for the Devils Buy Black Program presented by Prudential Financial. In this role, Salvador will educate and engage current players, meet with the winning entrepreneur(s), participate in a lecture series with Prudential executives, and be an ambassador for the program. “The Devils Buy Black Program presented by Prudential Financial has done tremendous work supporting New Jersey-based, Black-owned businesses in our community, by providing resources, exposure, and opportunity,” said Salvador. “I look forward to helping advance that program, by being part of the selection committee with Prudential, connecting with the current and previous companies that have participated, and helping our current players get involved and be part of its impact. The authenticity of the work done has resonated with me, and I am proud to serve as a bridge between Prudential, the program, and the Devils organization.”

Susan Somersille Johnson, Prudential Financial’s chief marketing officer, adds further insight, “Prudential is proud to be part of this winning game plan to support and amplify Black-owned businesses,” she said. “This program is making a big impact helping Black entrepreneurs build, grow and sustain their businesses on a local and national scale, and together we look forward to working with the Devils team and Bryce Salvador to provide these businesses with new opportunities.”

We’ll circle the block when the 2022/2023 winner is released. Over and out for now. Holla next week.  Til then, enjoy the nightlife.

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