[dropcap]D[/dropcap]uring the latter part of the year we hear it incessantly. Tis’ the season to be jolly, tis’ the season to forgive, and most of all…tis’ the season for charitable giving. So as I cozy up to a cup of spiced cider, inhale the strong scent of cinnamon and burning tree bark and crank up ‘Santa Claus goes straight to the Ghetto’ in my earphones,  I cant help but ponder the influence of hip hop on the charitable front.

Honestly, it is a rarity to hear of Hip Hop artists in any type of collaborative endeavor that involves giving back. Thats not to say that it doesn’t occur, its just a rather hidden spectacle. I guess when one juxtaposes rap lyrics full of money, women, and violence, with the notion of philanthropy, the images don’t quite mesh. But reality is often times stranger than fiction, and reality is, contrary to what mass media would want you to believe, Hip Hop does in fact give back.

[quote ]I can only imagine the rap moguls of today decked out in red jump suits with furry white trim, ho’ ho’ ho’n it while they hand out bags and boxes of gifts to kids. Perhaps Jay and Bey would pull up in a candy red Bentley with those cheesy reindeer ears on the front. Maybe instead of gifts covered in Christmas gift wrap and ribbons they’d hand out checks? Ok perhaps thats not what Hip Hop giving back looks like. But regardless of the look of it, the breadth of hip hops influence and its commitment to its surrounding community is greatly overlooked and must be acknowledged.[/quote]

Even on the most basic levels Hip Hop as an art form is a contribution. As much as we’d like to think of music as simply entertainment; the beats we rock in our rides on our way to school or work, or the rhythms that guide us on the dance floor at our local night club, its MORE than that. If you were to find yourself in an English class at your local public school, you just might hear Tupac Amaru Shakur recited or being discussed for his use of metaphors or political satire. In these ways, Hip Hop gives back to us, aspiring young children to embrace the art form of poetry and use writing as a form of stress relief or creative expression.

Now don’t get me wrong, but for me personally, I expect even more than that of Hip Hop. I expect something that we embraced from a young age, fell in love with during adolescence, and keep running back to as adults to do more for me and the generations that follow than inspire. I want Hip Hop to show and prove that its about more than just the cars, the money, the clothes, the ho*s. And when I went searching, I found a lot more than simply inspiration.

MC Lyte

Mc Lyte gives back.

I’ll start with ladies first, because there aren’t very many in Hip Hop, but they are still making a BIG difference in their philanthropic endeavors. MC Lyte, who is considered a Hip Hop pioneer has also pioneered an organization called Hip Hop Sisters. This organization not only inspires young women to pursue their artistic talent, but has also teamed up with The University of Wisconsin- Madison to give away THREE $100,000 scholarships. That means three different young women will be able to attend the university TUITION FREE!. At the complete other side of the Hip Hop spectrum we have Nicki Minaj, who has used her ‘Barbie’ craze to benefit the community as a whole. She teamed up with Mattel to create a Barbie doll in her likeness and will auction it off to the highest bidder. Bids are starting at $1,000 and the proceeds will be donated to Project Angel Food, an organization that provides food for individuals suffering with AIDS/HIV.

The men of Hip Hop have not disappointed either. Russell Simmons, who I’m going to personally deem the Grandfather of Hip Hop Philanthropy has given back in more ways than one, founding several charitable organizations with varying goals. One foundation in particular, The Hip Hop Summit Action network aspires to use hip-hop music to advocate education and societal concerns. One big accomplishment of this organization was to change the Rockefeller Drug Laws allowing $300 million to be added back into the New York City education budget. They also organized Hip-Hop Team Vote, which involved a 50 city grassroots movement to register young voters across the nation.

Following his lead, we have Jay Z who founded the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation for which he has concerts and raises monies to contribute to the

Russell Simmons

Russell gives back

United Way as well as his scholarship fund. So far, he has provided at least 750 students with more than 1.1 million dollars in scholarships. Fellow New Yorker and Hip Hop head Fabolous assists with the New York Cares program by facilitating a coat drive with his A Fabolous Way Foundation. The first annual Three Kings Coats Drive provided 100,000 coats to New York city kids in need. I think that makes up for all the children misspelling the word fabulous because of him.

I was also extremely delighted to find that Hip Hop new comer, Kendrick Lamar, used proceeds from ‘ Keisha’s Song’ off his album Section 8.0 to abate the vicious cycle of prostitution. He also participated in a concert that benefited the Downtown Women’s Center and Project Rural India Social and Health Improvement, both geared toward ending prostitution.

I guess you can say that at the end of my research I felt all jolly on the inside. Its good to know that a number of Hip-Hop artists are giving back in a number of ways. From Snoop coaching little league games to 50 Cent teaming up with the United Nations Food Program, Hip-Hop is helping in a big way. So I cant help but expect us to do the same. I mean, don’t we all go out and buy the cars, the clothes, and purses because they say their cool? Ok maybe you don’t do it because of Hip-Hop, maybe you just wanted that stuff on your own, but hey, why not be a follower in this sense? Tis’ the season anyway!

So if you’d like to contribute or give back, here are a number of organizations you can contribute to during this season, or any:

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