Whether it be from outside music communities or older generations, today’s rap music is talked down on quite a bit. There’s always comments ranging from “It’s not really music; it’s just noise” to “All they care about is money and women” to “Today’s rappers really haven’t been through any struggle.” For those who enjoy today’s rap, comments like that are always a bit irksome, but luckily rappers are providing ammo (figuratively) in response to these sentiments, by giving back to the community.
A pioneer of keeping the hometown close to the heart is 24-year-old artist Chancellor Bennett, better known as Chance the Rapper. Chance has always been focused on aiding Chicago residents, especially those who are the most vulnerable, from helping and providing jobs for the homeless to giving surprise field trip tours to the city’s youth. Most recently, he’s donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools in March of 2017 to support after school programs and the arts. Among the accolades received from the people of Chicago, he’s received praise from First Lady Michelle Obama and was also honored with the Humanitarian Award at the 2017 BET Awards. All of it he does with a humble spirit.
Tauheed Epps, professionally known as 2 Chainz, is a rapper from College Park, Ga. Rising to fame in August 2012, he is now a household name among young people. Last month on June 16, 2017, 2 Chainz released the album “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music,” his fourth studio album. In order to promote his release, he rented a pink house in Atlanta a.k.a “The Pink Trap House.” People were lined up to go inside and take pictures in front of it; it was a very popular tourist hotspot. However, over the July 4th weekend the Southern rapper transformed this photo-op location into a “trap church” for Atlanta tenants and community leaders to communicate with and encourage each other; the spot also served as a free HIV testing center.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there’s no group more largely affected by HIV/AIDS than Black Americans. Today, there are over 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States; over 498,400 of these people are Black, due to contributing factors such as poverty, no access to efficient healthcare, and lack of awareness of HIV/AIDS status. By turning his album venture into this free HIV testing center from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. on July 4 with the sponsorship of Atlanta AIDS, Test Atlanta, and the Fulton County Board of Health, 2 Chainz is ensuring that he’s not the only person who profits. He’s also flipping the contribution of a trap house; instead of breaking a community, it’s strengthening one.
Another rapper trying to improve the lives of those in his hometown is Sean Anderson, known professionally as Big Sean. He founded the Sean Anderson Foundation in 2012, whose mission is to “assist in the education, health, safety and well-being of Detroit Area school aged youth as well as disadvantaged youth in other areas across the nation.” This foundation has many programs including #HealFlintsKids, to help the afflicted in Flint, Mich., and MOGUL PREP, which allows high school students to interact with influential people in the music industry and learn more about that career path. He’s all about giving back in any way he can.
Rappers never forget where they come from; they’re almost always about uplifting the place from which they came. The biggest names like Nas, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Ludacris, are all very charitable, whether it be through substantial donations to specific charities and/or their own foundations. It’s important to know that this sentiment has not been lost among the new-age rap community. Maybe the beats are different and the lyrics don’t always match up to older ones, but that cannot be allowed to cloud the contributions of today’s artists. Even if it’s not everybody’s go-to music to put on in the car, their spirit of giving has to be respected, because not everyone with a large platform is using it for the benefit of others.