Backed By Rapper Nas, Urban Culture-Focused Media Company Mass Appeal Raises $1.2M

Mass Appeal, a joint venture that’s both reviving the Brooklyn-based, graffiti-focused magazine of the same name and also moving into online content, is announcing that it has raised $1.2 million in funding.

It’s backed by a mix of traditional firms and figures from the hip hop world. The rapper, (and one-time TechCrunch contributor) Nas announced last month that he had invested a “six-figure sum” in the company, and he’s also serving as Mass Appeal’s associate publisher. Publisher Peter Bittenbender told me via email that the other investors include record label/creative agency DECON (where Bittenbender is co-founder and CEO), rapper Pusha T, and international firm White Owl Capital.

In its original incarnation, the magazine was founded in 1996 and shut down in 2008, before being revived by the current team earlier this year. Bittenbender said that the goal is to create an “an integrated media property” that includes web video, photography, social, print and live experiences. You see that content on the Mass Appeal site, as well as its YouTube account, which features peeks behind the scenes of the magazine, the “Time Pieces” series of short videos from Jason Goldwatch, and more.

When the company first reached out to me, a spokesperson said the content would be “embracing the core ethics of hip-hop culture and using that to push great content with a unique voice to a global audience.” However, Bittenbender emphasized that Mass Appeal goes beyond hip hop.

“While we embrace all things hip-hop (as it is part of our heart and soul), we stand for (and have always stood for) creative instigation,” he said. “Music and its influence is such a massive part of our creative equity along with street art and fashion.”

By the way, Nas himself has been featured on Mass Appeal’s cover. So is there a potential conflict of interest here? When he announced his investment and involvement, Nas told Forbes he won’t get involved if the magazine writes about him, and that they can say anything negative or positive, as long as it’s their “honest opinion.”