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Leaders In The Hip-Hop Community Who Have Used Their Platform To Affect Positive Change


Having achieved success in the music industry, these hip-hop leaders use their notoriety for social activism. Hip hop artists, producers, actors, and entrepreneurs, these men are well known in the entertainment world. They understand that their voices are heard and use this to promote social change.

Materialism and humanitarianism are often at odds in hip hop. Activist and activism do not always go hand-in-hand. But hip hop is a world unto itself, and countless rappers have used their platform to fight for the underprivileged.

This article interprets "social activism" broadly -- it includes artists who have uplifted marginalized groups, generally affect positive change in the world, and attack social injustice. Unfortunately, it is not always so easy to attack social injustice at its root. But we salute these 13 hp-hop leaders who have served their community and inspired a new generation of do-gooders. 


Chance The Rapper

He created an awards show for teachers, parents, principals, and students that convey leadership Chance announced recently that Chicago will host the first ever Twilight Awards in 2018. The awards will be for "teachers, parents, principals, and students that convey leadership." According to Chance, the show will be hosted by James Corden of the Late Late Show, and special guests will perform. Chance deeply values education and consistently emphasizes the importance of educating the youth, "Funding education is the most important investment a community can make," he said.

He's donated and fundraised racks on racks on racks for Chicago Public Schools Chance has been giving back to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) consistently for many years now. In January of 2015 Chance, his brother and Sway helped to raise $100,000 for Chicago schools through the Get Schooled Program. The $100,000 went towards new technology equipment to help six local elementary schools. Now, Chance has his own charity called SocialWorks, a youth empowerment charity that has resulted in millions of dollars towards CPS. As many remember, last summer he wrote a $1 million check to the Chicago Public School Foundation to help support the arts in the school system. SocialWorks have done countless charity events to raise money for CPS and Chance is always at the forefront of the events. For example, he manned the grill and cash registers at a local Chicago restaurant to raise money for CPS and Chicago's youth.

He gave the 2018 Commencement speech at Dillard University

He told the 2018 graduates of Dillard University to "Surpass your heroes and achieve greatness, just like Beyoncé did at Coachella"….epic. He was also awarded an honorary degree for his philanthropy and continued service to Chicago youth.


Jay-Z & Beyoncé

Hip Hop Mogul JAY-Z has always been outspoken. Over the years he’s rightfully condemned everything from the US prison system (referred to often by activists as ‘legalized slavery’) and police brutality to institutional racism and anti-immigration rhetoric.

Jay-Z and Roc Nation are continuing their quest to combat social injustice with the assistance of its Team Roc division. A branch dedicated to philanthrophic efforts, Team Roc recently helped an 11-year-old boy get criminal charges stemming from a Pledge of Allegiance protest dismissed. but the last few months in particular have seen him become one of few voices of reason in an increasingly turbulent world.

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter dished out over $ 1 million in scholarship funds for select students around the country throughout the remainder of their worldwide On The Run II (OTRII) tour. The power couple announced scholarship program awarded one exceptional high school senior with $100,000 during each of the tour’s stops in the U.S. The 11 cities include New Orleans, Orlando, Miami, Houston, and Atlanta where the entertainers.

In case you missed it, Jabari Talbot, a sixth-grade student at Lakeland, Florida's Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, was charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence after he refused to stand for the pledge on February 04.

According to Bay News 9, the 11-year-old reportedly told his substitute teacher that he refused to stand because "the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to Black people." After an exchange with his teacher, he was reportedly sent to the office because the teacher did "not want to continue dealing with him," reports the news site added.

A school resource officer arrested the student, accusing him of being disruptive and refusing to obey commands. Jabari Talbot was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center. He also faced a three-day school suspension.

Team Roc recruited attorney Alex Spiro to oversee Jabari's case and the charges against the 11-year-old were dropped earlier this month. Spiro said, "Jabari is a courageous and intelligent young man who deserves all the credit for standing up for his beliefs. He should've never been arrested or entangled in this situation—his freedom of speech rights were clearly protected under the 1st Amendment," in a statement

Once news of the acquittal hit social media, commenters couldn't help but celebrate the efforts made by Jay-Z and his Roc Nation team.

Check out what Twitter had to say below:

Arguably the best-known example of his recent activism came when rapper 21 Savage was arrested in Atlanta earlier this year by ICE, the US immigration and customs enforcement agency described by Cynthia Nixon as a “terrorist organization.” Reports revealed that Savage is a UK national whose US visa had lapsed in 2015, but as the story developed it transpired that his applications to stay had been delayed, and that the lapse was – in his own words – “through no fault of [his] own.” Perhaps coincidentally, he had criticized ICE’s cruel treatment of immigrants on new track “a lot” just days earlier; the video dropped two days before his arrest.

Activists reacted immediately with fury and dismay, sparking the hashtag #free21savage to call for his release on bond. That’s when Jay stepped in. Not only did he describe the incident as “an absolute travesty,” he hooked up Savage with world-class lawyer Alex Shapiro and released an official statement through record label Roc Nation, in which he echoed the demands of campaigners. “Person only charged as ‘visa overstay’ is bond eligible,’” it read. “21 Savage should be released immediately.” The demand was soon met, with Savage being granted a release from detention upon payment of an alleged $100,000 bond.

It’s not uncommon for musicians to be written off as activists – sometimes for good reason, sometimes not – but Jay has consistently stepped up and spoken out for what he believes in. One thing he definitely doesn’t believe in is the US criminal justice system, which often turns a blind eye to police brutality and disproportionately criminalizes black youth. It also tends to punish prisoners after their release by imposing harsh restrictions on them.

Beyoncé isn’t too fond of sharing intimate details of her life. September 11th, 2017 Houston native and global Icon superstar Beyoncé returned to the Bayou City to make a donation to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and offer support to those in need.

Beyonce paid tribute to historically black colleges during her groundbreaking Coachella performance, donated $100,000 to four black universities. -- but when it comes to advocating for social justice and tackling politics, she employs the grandest of stages to let her voice ring.

Beyoncé’s “political” video, Formation, and her provocative performance at the Super Bowl 50, have fired black rights activists with enthusiasm but also fuelled right-wingers’ arguments.

Beyoncé sang Formation in front of 70,000 spectators. She performed with dancers in an X formation (an apparent tribute to Malcom X) who evoked the Black Panthers, a political (occasionally armed) movement of black people who fought against the government for self-defense in the ‘60s.


Meek Mill

One man that knows this well is Jay’s friend Meek Mill, who has been imprisoned on numerous occasions over the last decade for relatively minor offences. Jay spearheaded the successful #FreeMeekMill campaign and, once Mill had been released, teamed up with the fellow rapper to launch the REFORM alliance, which “aims to [advance] criminal justice reform and [eliminate] outdated laws that perpetuate injustice, starting with probation and parole.” The group pledged an enormous $50 million earmarked for prisoners caught up in what has long been described as an institutionally racist system. (Ava DuVernay outlined this history excellently in her Netflix documentary, 13th.)

Of course, Jay can afford to help others – he’s literally the richest musician in America, and when his net worth is combined with Beyoncé’s they are easily an actual $1 billion couple. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez famously claimed that “every billionaire is a policy failure,” and she’s not wrong – worldwide income inequality creates a crippling divide which favors some and murders others. But Bey and Jay work to close this gap; his Shaun Carter Foundation has given millions of dollars worth of scholarships to underprivileged students, and Beyoncé’s humanitarian relief has been well-documented.