Rapper, singer, and The Root’s lead emcee, Black Thought, is diving in to the venture capital when he took on a general partner role at the firm Impellent Ventures. The role of general partner carries the highest responsibility and decision-making role at a firm. It also implies larger exposure to the firm’s liabilities. Impellent Ventures invests in technology start-up companies.
The musician, whose real name is Tariq Trotter, says that he wants to make profitable investments while making venture capitalism less intimidating for musicians, and entrepreneurs from marginalized and underrepresented groups. “My brand is kind of like a bridge, and then people also look to my lyrical content for historical and political commentary, which helps inform them,” Black Thought said, as reported by Axios. The “less intimidating” factor seems like a good fit with Impellent which deploys a retro, pixel-art website reminiscent of ’80s arcade and Gameboy games. “When people see me out on the street, they don’t feel I’m the sort of celebrity that [is] far removed from them, on another planet with nothing in common … There’s a blue collar rock star thing about The Roots that’s approachable and understandable, and I think any company or brand aligned with that will appear more so as well,” Black Thought said.
Axios reports that the musician was introduced into venture capitalism by Philip Beauregard, the second to become Impellent’s general partner after its founder David Brown. Beauregard invited Black Thought to speak at a Harvard Innovation Labs event where the musician met Rich Miner, cofounder of Android and Google Ventures. The rapper then dabbled into angel investments, and few months after Beauregard, Black Thought announced his general partner role at Impellent Ventures. Black Thought joins a number of Black celebrities like Pharrell Williams, Jay-Z, and Big Ben who have made several investments to give opportunities for Black entrepreneurs and creatives.