SEATTLE, Washington — Hip hop music is integral to America’s culture. It influences language, fashion, entertainment and much more. Hip hop lyrics often emphasize humble beginnings in poverty and hardships, but the singer ultimately achieves success through hard work and dedication. Several African American artists, Lil Jon, Jay-Z and French Montana, are using their wealth to improve the living standards in impoverished African countries. This article will highlight these influential African American hip hop artists supporting African communities.
Lil Jon’s Schools in Ghana
Lil Jon, known for his hits “Turn Down For What” and “Snap Yo Fingers,” was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Formerly a DJ in a middle-class family, Jon became a $28 million sensation nominated for five Grammys. Following his success, Lil Jon founded two schools in Ghana. He donated $70,000 for the founding of Abomayaw D.A. Kindergarten and Mafi Atitekpo DA Primary School. As a father, Lil Jon was inspired by his son to donate to the schools.
Lil Jon visited Ghana and witnessed the inadequate conditions in which the children were learning. He said, “[In] one community they had a big mango tree and two classes were sitting under the mango tree and that’s not a condition conducive with learning.” Lil Jon wanted to create an environment where kids can prosper and exceed their goals and dreams.
An article covered by NPR discusses how, while the number of kids attending preschool has increased significantly in Ghana, the amount of information retention has not increased. Many kids are not learning because of the lack of proper teaching methods or classroom equipment. So, Lil Jon’s contributions really can make a difference for Ghanan children.
Jay-Z’s Donations and Contributions
Jay-Z and Beyonce are a powerhouse both on and off the stage. Jay-Z has 77 Grammy nominations and 22 wins, but he is also known for his charitable acts. In 2018, Beyonce and Jay-Z performed at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in South Africa. They, along with many others, raised more than $7 billion to support issues such as fighting tropical diseases, tackling HIV/AIDS and increasing education for 121 million people.
In his 2006 trip to South Africa, Jay-Z was shocked by how far children had to travel to get drinkable water. Although South Africa hosts some of the cleanest water in the world, the lack of infrastructure such as pipelines and wells is affecting thousands of lives in rural communities. Consequently, he built ten water pumps that can work without electricity in the villages.
In addition to global charities, Jay-Z also has his own organization dedicated to putting underprivileged people through school in the United States, eponymously known as the Shawn Carter Foundation. Jay-Z’s charitable contributions to Africa and America are extensive. He and Beyonce continue to influence lives to this day.
French Montana is “Unforgettable”
French Montana, or Karim Karbouch, was born and raised in Morocco and immigrated to the United States at 13 years old. He is notorious for his song “Unforgettable.” Montana is a three-time Grammy nominee for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance. His generosity toward Uganda was inspired by the filming of his first-hit music video “Unforgettable.” During the video shoot, he was touched by the community and has been able to raise around $500,000 for the Suubi Center of the Mama Hope Foundation partially through donating the proceeds of his hit song “Famous.”
The Suubi Center is a health clinic that focuses on maternal and child healthcare, supporting two of the most vulnerable communities in Uganda. In 2016, 53 out of 1,000 mothers died from childbirth complications, rating Uganda among the highest maternal mortality rates of the world. Since then, mortality rates have been decreasing. With the help of French Montana and other hip hop artists supporting African communities, the Suubi Center is building a second hospital and is now able to provide more resources to the people in the community.
Lil Jon, Jay-Z and French Montana are some of the biggest names in hip hop culture. Their musical talent and generous hearts are influencing the lives of people worldwide from both inspirational lyrics and charitable donations. Their influence, money and platforms are improving the education system in Ghana, access to water in South Africa and maternal healthcare in Uganda. These artists have paved the road for other hip hop artists to follow. For example, French Montana has inspired Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, The Weeknd and Adam Levine to help support the Suubi Center. Hip hop has certainly shaped the American culture, and hip hop artists supporting African communities is one happy outcome of their success.