Nas is arguably one of the most profound MCs to ever pick up a pen. Now, he’s adding “tech investor” to his skill set. He recently spoke to USA Today about his Los Angeles-based firm, QueensBridge Venture Partners, Silicon Valley’s diversity problem and his work with Tristan Walker, the Black manufacturer of the Bevel hair trimmer. A lightly edited excerpt:
Why did you invest in Walker & Co. Brands?
Tristan [Walker, owner of Bevel] was recommended by a mutual friend. … I listened to him and I was immediately impacted by what he said because the product that he has is something that is close to me. It’s grooming. It’s haircuts. It’s the barbershop in the ‘hood. The barber is somebody who has always been important in all communities but especially the black community. I was just happy to see someone represent that.
How important is it for Silicon Valley to make products for people of color?
It’s really important because of the fact that there have been so many products out there for people of color that were not owned by people of color, and that matters.
What are your thoughts on the lack of diversity and lack of people of color represented in Silicon Valley?
I think across the board things are starting to get better slowly. This is a tough challenge that needs to be addressed. There is really no perfect answer that can solve it today, but there is progress being made.
There are so many players entering the game and changing the game, I am optimistic about the future of the tech world being more diverse. We all have to play our part and fight and not give up and make sure what we are doing is A1. Each one teach one, we need to pull more people in.
It would be a shame for people to go on the way they have in the past. People come from different backgrounds and they can provide the right thing for a company instead of 10 people from the same perspective trying to solve a problem. I’d like to push [tech] more in the community I am from. It’s the new thing for the hustlers in the ‘hood.