Some of the biggest names in hip-hop have turned around and used their success to lift up others. It would take too long to name every single one of the world hip-hop stars who have given their time and talents and money to philanthropy, but we have compiled a list of a few who are making a difference with their fame and fortune.
Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper has been making headlines for years with his philanthropic work. Remember in 2017 when he announced that he was giving $1 million to Chicago Public Schools? Or the year after that when he helped mark 50 years of the Special Olympics with a special benefit concert?
Nowadays, you can catch Chance the Rapper talking up his charity organization, Social Works. The organization has done everything from getting computers and art programs into underserved schools to putting together food and clothing drives. Social Works has also built up warming centers and provided free haircuts as it serves those who find themselves homeless and in need.
On any list of philanthropic world hip-hop stars, you’re likely to find J. Cole’s name. Jermaine Cole was already deeply involved in his community before he found success, working as a youth basketball coach.
Now, J. Cole has his own foundation, the Dreamville Foundation, which helps with everything from hurricane relief to getting school supplies into the hands of kids who need them. He also makes it a point to donate to good causes, like when he participated in Colin Kaepernick’s Million Dollar Pledge.
Missy Elliott has been standing for causes she believes in since early in her career, when she had her live debut at the all-female Lilith Fair. Along with other world hip-hop stars, she also stood with AIDS survivors and was involved in campaigns for research for the crisis. What’s more, she donated the proceeds from her lipstick, Misdemeanor Lipstick, to Break the Cycle, which works to fight against domestic violence.
In more recent years, she has teamed up with Michelle Obama in support of the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund. And she continues to donate to HBCUs and to community causes.
Drake has made headlines with his generosity plenty of times; notably, he caught everyone’s attention when his “God’s Plan” album came out and he went on a spending spree in Miami of donations and charity work. But he’s also been giving for hurricane relief, school supplies and other charitable causes this whole time.
Just last year, Drake donated $1 million to LeBron James’ I Promise school in Ohio. And he’s going to keep on giving, setting the pace for other world hip-hop stars.
When Sean “Diddy” Combs sets his mind to something, he’s sure to see it through, and that’s true of his philanthropic efforts as well as his music. For example, he raised $2 million for kids with HIV and AIDS by running the New York City Marathon in 2003. He also used his clothing line, Sean John for Breast Cancer Care, to raise awareness and research funds for breast cancer.
He continues to use his success to give back to causes and communities that need help. Just last year, he donated $1 million to Howard University, saying that he “wouldn’t be here” without the Washington HBCU. Sean Combs definitely knows how to give back and belongs on any list of charitable world hip-hop stars.
Queen Latifah has been in the business of giving back for decades. Back in the early nineties, her mother set up the Lancelot H. Owens Scholarship Foundation, named for her late son, and she and her multitalented daughter have been using it to help fund higher education for kids who otherwise could not afford college. Latifah also helped design shoes for the Stuart Weitzman charity shoe auction that raised awareness for ovarian cancer.
Nowadays, she’s working with the Queen Collective to support female filmmakers and continues to be an activist voice in the industry. She also recently partnered with the American Lung Association to help when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson once told Forbes that he knew he wanted to get involved in philanthropic work as soon as his first album made it big. He immediately set to work with organizations like Feeding America to help hungry kids, among other causes. He even recently received a humanitarian award for his charity work in Texas, setting a high bar for other world hip-hop stars when it comes to philanthropy.
With his foundation, G-Unity, 50 Cent continues to help kids in urban areas find success. The foundation does everything from toy drives to an entire school course focused on entrepreneurship.
With her Lil’ Kim Cares Foundation, Lil’ Kim has been speaking out against domestic violence and helping women escape bad situations for years. She has also put her all into fundraising efforts and once broke the record for the most money raised in a single year for the M.A.C. AIDS Fund when she and Mary J. Blige brought in $4 million for the cause.
In addition, Lil’ Kim has used her voice to speak out in support of the LGBTQ+ community and to raise money to combat HIV/AIDS. Her foundation has been involved in raising awareness for public health and in running toy drives.
Our list of world hip-hop stars doesn’t only include those who give back locally; Akon is a great example of a star who uses his influence for international good. In particular, he has focused his attention on bringing electricity to Africa.
With his Lighting Global initiative, he is trying to bring not just electricity but sustainable energy to the world. Already, millions of Africans now have electricity thanks to that initiative, and Lighting Global has helped provide training for sustainable jobs.
Snoop Dogg also has taken his charity work to an international level with the Mind Gardens Project, which helps kids in inner cities in Jamaica. At the national level, he has been generous with supporting sports programs for underserved kids with his Snoop Youth Football League.
Recently, he has done everything from auctioning off a blunt to raise thousands of dollars in the name of Alzheimer’s research to teaming up with sports and world hip-hop stars to raise money to address the COVID-19 health emergency.
Everyone on this list (as well as several world hip-hop stars we didn’t name here) has shown what it means to pay it forward. We hope that they and others like them will continue to show us what success can truly mean.