Hip Hop music in the mainstream is often associated with glorifying excessive wealth, violence, and misogamy. As a result, many artists get a bad ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂrapÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ for not being able to contribute much to society. The truth is that Hip Hop shouldnÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂt be pigeon-holed into a corner for what many of the more popular commercial artists output (or any law-enforcement related issues some artists have). Some artists simply write their lyrics about whatever they see in their everyday life and provide Middle America with a brief look into the lives of the inner city, and sometimes that isnÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂt about violence and other stereotypical images.
There is another side to many artists: the fact that they have amassed a great amount of wealth gives them the opportunity to give back to their communities. Some artists do this quietly, others are just as braggadocios about it as they are in their music. Here are 5 Hip Hop artists and their charitable contributions:
The Hip Hop singer/rapper is famous for songs like "Smack That," "I Wanna Love You", and ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂLocked Up.ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ But many people donÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂt know that he is credited with discovering pop star Lady Gaga and collaborated with her on her first two albums. As a result of working with her and many other artists, his own music, and other business ventures, he has a net worth of $80 million. This allowed him to create the Akon Lighting Africa charity. Although he was born in the United States, he spent some time in his childhood in the West African country of Senegal. He founded this charity to give back to this country which provides solar energy to 14 African nations including Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Benin and Sierra Leone and employs 5,000 people throughout these countries.
Although he has not had an album in a few years, that doesnÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂt mean he has simply stayed on the sidelines. The rapper, famous for his ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂCountry GrammarÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ music, is involved in more than 6 charities including the Jes Us 4 Jackie campaign to educate minority communities about the need for bone marrow transplants in honor of his sister who died of leukemia. Nelly has quietly been sending at least 2 kids to college tuition-free every year for the past 10 years through various scholarships. He prefers to do this in silence because he says itÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs about making a change, not an impression.
50 Cent has made a name for himself through his violent songs and being shot a bunch of times. But he has also amassed a huge amount of wealth through his music and business ventures, including his endorsement with Vitamin Water which, when sold to Coca-Cola, netted him more than $100 million. He was able to give some of that cash to charities, including creating his own G-Unity Foundation which provided grants to other non-profits to improve quality-of-life for many minority communities. 50 also travels to African countries Kenya and Somalia where he has literally fed starving children with his own hands.
Rapper Jay-Z is one of the wealthiest artists alive currently. Being married to Beyonce, they have a combined net worth of $1 billion. In addition to being a platinum-selling artist, he has many successful business ventures including at one time being a minority owner of the Barclays Center (where the Brooklyn Nets play) and owning his own sports management agency. Jay-Z started The Shawn Carter Foundation and donates to more than 10 other charities including raising awareness for the global water shortage working with the United Nations. Through his foundation, he also provides 4 study abroad scholarships for students through the Shawn Carter Foundation-Gilman International Scholarships program.
In addition to being one of the original pioneers of gangsta rap and being responsible for such acts as NWA, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar, he has a successful business career. Dr. Dre released the now famous Beats by Dre headphones into a global empire that he recently sold to Apple, Inc. for $3 billion. With his business partner Jimmy Iovine, he donated $70 million to the University of Southern California to create the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation to help students ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂexplore and create new art forms, technologies, and business models." The first class for the academy began in 2014.
Some may criticize these artists and say they are ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂnot giving enoughÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ or using the donations simply as a tax write off, but this is irrelevant. Their financial success has placed them in a position to give back in their own unique ways that allows them to have an impact with more than just their music.