Rap and hip-hop music has a rich and diverse culture with its roots linked all the way back to the era of slavery within United States history.  Hip-hop evolved into a music genre in the 1970s when DJs performed at block parties in the boroughs of New York City using the breaks of popular funk, disco and soul music.  As the genre progressed, hip-hop became an outlet of artistic expression for the youths growing up in the inner cities.

Hip-hop blessed the world with popular artists such as 2Pac, the Notorious B.I.G., KRS-One and Eminem, among others.  The lyrical content gave the rest of the world a lens in which we could try to understand and empathize with the people living in impoverished conditions within the inner city where kids had little to no economic opportunity, faced rampant drug infestations and constant battles with authorities.

As hip-hop music gained popularity, it gave some individuals a chance to make a living while creating work that inspired millions.  Since the hip-hop genre is directly infused with the universal struggle of the worlds poor and underprivileged, it is always great to hear about those individuals that were able to escape that life and use their fame and fortune to benefit others.  Here are a few prominent members of the hip-hop community that do just that:

  • Russell Simmons – the co-founder of the influential hip-hop music label Def Jam,  Russell Simmons is involved with over 20 different charities and foundations.  He is the founder of the Diamond Empowerment Fund which supports education initiatives in African diamond mining countries.  Simmons also created the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation which provides art and educational programming to New York City youth.
  • Nas & Damian Marley  These two artists collaborated on an album called Distant Relatives which features themes related to African ancestry and poverty.  Proceeds of this album were donated to various projects in Africa including building schools and raising AIDS/HIV awareness.
  • Immortal Technique – This underground artist combines gritty hip-hop with politically conscious messages in order to raise awareness of social issues plaguing the inner city and underdeveloped nations.  He collaborated with Omeid International to open the Amin Institute in Kabul, Afghanistan, an orphanage, school and medical facility for children.
  • Akon – Akon created the Konfidence Foundation to help kids in Senegal and the United States have a chance at an education and healthy life.  The foundation assists undeveloped schools in constructing key infrastructure projects so that they can become operational.  In Ecole Elementaire P.A.Y. Unite #3, the foundation completed construction on unfinished classrooms, drilled drinking wells, and provided educational materials.

 – Sunny Bhatt

Sources: Look to the Stars, Konfidence Foundation, Omeid International, Culture Bully
Photo: DrJays