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Hip-Hop Legend Nas and Business Executives Team Up to Honor Artists Who Didn’t Get Their Fair Share of Fame and Fortune

In the realm of hip-hop culture, paying tribute to pioneers is an essential yet often overlooked endeavor. Now a collective effort from some industry legends and renowned entrepreneurs is shining a well-deserved spotlight on hip-hop greats.

US rapper Nas arrives for the 64th Annual Grammy Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 3, 2022. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Nas, Steve Stoute, Ben Horowitz, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, and Felicia Horowitz put forth a cohesive initiative to honor legendary artists Rakim and Scarface, according to The Paid In Full Foundation’s website.

It is not clear if the $500,000 will be spilt event between the two honorees or if the amount will be issued to multiple grant recipients over the course of a number of years, HipHopDX reported.

The initiative is set to take place during the first-ever inaugural Hip Hop Grandmaster Awards in Las Vegas next month which was curated by the group. All proceeds generated will be directed to the foundation’s programs which are aimed at supporting hip-hop luminaries and other creative individuals.

Who’s Who

Nas, regarded as one of the best rappers of all time, began his musical career in 1989 working with various artists as a featured rapper. His debut album, “Illmatic,” dropped in 1994 and today is considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums and was inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.

Throughout the years the multi-Grammy winner has continued to record hit-making collections, up to “Magic 2” and “Magic 3” in 2023. He is also a businessman. Nas owns a record label and is a major investor in Mass Appeal magazine. He has also been a consistent tech investor. Having been an early investor in the Ring security system, he was reportedly paid $40 million after Amazon acquired the company in 2018. Nas, who has a net worth of $70 million, also invested in PillPack early on. PillPack was also acquired by Amazon.

Stoute is a former manager to Nas, as well as to Trackmasters and Mary J. Blige. Stoute is the founder and CEO of the Translation, a marketing agency, and the author of “The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy.” In 2017, Stoute, who has an estimated net worth of $55 million, received $70 million from investors such as Alphabet Inc. and Andreessen Horowitz to launch UnitedMasters, a music venture.

Andreessen Horowitz is a private venture capital firm, founded in 2009 by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz.

Horowitz’s Hip-Hop Connection

Some might think it’s odd for one of the nation’s largest venture capital firms to be in bed with the hip-hop world, but Horowitz’s love for hip-hop is well known and it has impacted his investment strategy, Forbes reports. For one, he has long supported Code 2040, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing underrepresentation of certain minorities in the tech industry. And, noted Forbes, he has drawn inspiration from Stoute’s “The Tanning of America” book, which highlights how Black culture is shaping American culture on a broader scale.

Leaving No One Behind

“Over the past several decades, Hip-Hop music and culture transcended its origins as a localized New York art form to become a global phenomenon,” the website of the Paid In Full Foundation declared. “In doing so, it has forged numerous careers, generated substantial wealth, and, most importantly, provided hope and inspiration to a generation of young people.”

The statement outlined that many of the most influential original artists “have not received the recognition commensurate with their extraordinary contributions to the arts and culture.”

The Paid In Full Foundation said it seeks to address this disparity through its grant-making initiative by both honoring the architects of hip-hop and empowering them to pursue their creative and intellectual endeavors for the betterment of society

In an interview with the “Rap Radar Podcast,” Stoute disclosed that the foundation plans to disburse $500,000 in addition to health care support to hip-hop “contributors who didn’t get what they deserved.” Stoute also shared the team’s intention of making the Hip Hop Grandmaster Awards an annual event.

“What I want to do is, all of the artists who came in early, who signed unfavorable deals or were taken advantage of, is give back to them,” Stoute expressed during the podcast. “Pay it forward and give back to them.”

Although the event coincides with the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, a monumental celebration that has been observed around the world, the initiative was in the works for two years, as Stoute collaborated with Horowitz, Nas, Fab 5 Freddy, and Quincy Jones III, among others. The Hip Hop Grandmaster Awards is sold out, with many of the music industry’s A-listers expected to be in attendance.

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