Rapper Nas has built an extensive portfolio of investments spanning over 100 companies, from fintech to mattresses. His latest contract is more personal than most.
The New York hip-hop legend becomes co-owner of upstart label Escobar Cigars. As part of the arrangement, Nas will provide marketing advice as the three-year-old brand revamps its e-commerce operations and packaging. The parties did not disclose financial terms.
“I watch it separately from any other business I do,” Nas said in an interview. “I’ve always had a hidden love for – well, not so hidden – I’ve had tons of pictures over the years with different cigars.”
With the rapper on board, Escobar is launching a new collection of cigars and will develop a line of handmade blunt wraps to capitalize on the growing cannabis industry. Pot users are splurging on high-end smoking paraphernalia like wraps, table lighters and vanity trays as the stigma wears off.
The global cigar and cigarillo industry has more modest projections, despite a lifting of the pandemic, with annual growth expected to be around 3% per year through 2025, according to projections from Grand View Research.
Nas, real name Nasir Jones, has been an active investor through his separate venture capital firm QueensBridge Venture Partners, which he launched with Anthony Saleh and others in 2013. The fund has invested in companies such as stock trading platform Robinhood Markets Inc., crypto exchange Coinbase Global Inc., cloud storage company DropBox Inc. and ride-sharing service Lyft Inc. — now all public companies.
He also explores new industries, citing vaccines and healthcare as attractive sectors, as well as education.
Nas grew up in Queens, New York and released his first hip-hop album in the mid-1990s, becoming one of the biggest names in rap over the years before moving from music to businesses ranging from a magazine to a sneaker store. He is still recording music and released the album “King’s Disease II” earlier this month. One song includes a brief reference to Escobar Cigars.
“As a New Yorker, I had this natural urge to be something in the business world,” Nas said. “I just didn’t know what it was going to be.”