Kanye West, Common and Rhymefest love Chi-Town: not Chiraq. According to Sun Times, the three alongside the Chicago Urban League are in the early phases of establishing The Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative. The campaign plans to generate 20,000 year-long jobs in a five-year span and starts this fall.
Fans can also contribute without knowing doing any work! All parties have their eyes set on The AHH!! Fest: an annual festival partially funding the 20K job project. There’s no list of performers now. Yet the trio ought to attract a stable of respectable acts by its launch: September 20-21 right in Chicago.
This news is great for multiple reasons but let’s stress two of the biggest points. It counteracts the trendy, negative stigma and immgery floating around about Chicago’s most blighted neighborhoods. Much of the stated mainstream coverage exploits the city’s ills rather than raise awareness and create solutions. Examples are abound but Gawker’s 2012 Chief Keef story, which put the rapper and his neighborhood into convenient context for its readers, stands as one of the biggest offenders.
Secondly, it shows how job creation and charity work’s a great avenue for rappers to contribute regardless of their music’s subject matter. Every artist obviously doesn’t have the resources of a Donda Foundation or Common Ground like Kanye and Lonnie Rashid. Plus Common, Rhymefest and Kanye’s discogs aren’t squeaky clean; they delve in debauchery and uplift at different rates like most rappers. Nevertheless, they prove that while words do well, actions speak louder.
I could use this juncture to complain about turn-up culture, smart dumb rappers and how the next Public Enemy/Dead Prez don’t exist. However, any help is good help especially if it means potentially developing income to teenagers, young adults and families in the future.
Perhaps such initiatives can be the lane in which current rappers make societal impact. Rapping about street violence’s negative effects or anything “preachy” haven’t totally gone out the door. Chance and Kendrick have shown they can be assets towards success without suspicions of latching on to an agenda.
The subjects persist as tough sells for today’s buying public, though. The reality of the situation doesn’t mean rappers can’t support communities of their choosing. Meek Mill’s no saint on or off the mic but his generosity precedes his rhymes. The key’s in making the M.O. spread somehow.