The Web Summit had a surprise announcement to make yesterday, revealing that rapper Nas is to speak at this year’s event.
While he's best known for his music, the 41-year-old – whose full name is Nasir Jones – is also prolific when it comes to putting cash into new companies.
The rapper first become involved in start-ups five years ago alongside his manager Anthony Saleh, with the duo going on to found Los Angeles-based venture firm QueensBridge Venture Partners in 2012. Among the dozens of companies to receive Nas and Saleh's backing include bitcoin wallet and exchange service Coinbase, online art-hosting website DeviantArt, and crowd-sourced annotation site Genius (formerly Rap Genius).
“It’s incredibly rewarding to bet on someone that most wouldn’t,” Nas told Smashd in an interview about his second life earlier this year. “I was passed on a lot in the early days of my rap career and fought it through to get where I am.
“We started investing because we wanted to be surrounded by the smartest people in the world. We thought investing in tech was the right way to do that,” he added.
Hailing from Queensbridge, New York, a 20-year-old Nas released his debut album Illmatic in 1994. With its layered rhymes and gritty narratives, Illmatic is widely regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever made. Nas has since gone on to release 10 more solo studio albums, sell more than 25 million records, beef with fellow rapper-turned-entrepreneur Jay Z, and act in, among other things, an episode of Hawaii Five-0.
The Web Summit will take place from 3 to 5 November this year. More than 500 speakers have already been lined-up for the event, including Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr, and Ed Catmull, founder of Pixar.
Last year more than 20,000 attendees came to Dublin for the technology conference. A remarkable rise, considering the first summit in 2010 attracted just 400 people.
In a statement, Web Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave said: "We aim to make Web Summit the best place to meet, connect and be inspired for our thousands of attendees and we are on track to provide them with an amazing experience.
Nas photo via Shutterstock