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Celebrities have money, power, and respect (yes I referenced The Lox). Many have used their prominence to help those who are less fortunate and uplift the communities they once grew up in. Here are 10 of our favorite socially conscious artists who give back and help educate the world on social issues.
The Chicago rapper is always at the forefront of politics. While Common talks about violence, racism, and social class, he is also very supportive when it comes to issues of injustice. He has been very vocal about the Trayvon Martin case and has recently continued the conversation of Mike Brown and Ferguson by bringing out Mike Brown’s parents during his performance at the BET Hip Hop Awards, along with doing the “Don’t Shoot” stance.
Yes, you read the name correctly, Rihanna. When the Grammy Award winning artist isn’t clapping back at people on twitter or throwing shade, Rihanna throws her money and her time effortlessly to children’s hospitals and even started her own charity, the Believe Foundation. Rihanna has also been a major contributor to UNICEF, Hope for Haiti, and organizations dedicated to HIV/AIDS. BadGalRiRi is actually…very sweet (wipes tear).
The Colombian superstar knows how to shake her hips like no other, but she can also shake up a few smiles on people’s faces. The “Can’t Remember to Forget You” singer is a brand ambassador for UNICEF and founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation, a organization dedicated to assisting low-income children in Columbia. Shakira has also recorded a number a songs for charity, proving once again you can change the world through art. Go, Shakira!
4. India Arie
Viewed by many as someone who is very spiritual and afrocentric, India Arie is always the one to stand for human rights and encouraging black women to love themselves. In 2006, Arie released “I Am Not My Hair”, a song to help women find acceptance with not only their hair, but their skin tone and body image as well. The message is still carried on to this day thanks to India Arie’s performances and continuing effort to spread the message of self-love.
You can’t talk about socially conscious celebrities without mentioning Bono. Since the 70s, the U2 frontman has made many contributions to every kind of charitable organization you can think of. From Human Rights to HIV/AIDS, Bono has generously donated his support to each cause. Now in his 50’s, Bono is still going around the world speaking on global issues and raising awareness.
6. Talib Kweli
Hip Hop Artist and activist Talib Kweli is no stranger to being involved in social issues. As a proud activist, Kweli has spoken out often on the issue of police brutality and misconduct, most recently in the cases of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin. Kweli is not shy about his opinion, especially in an infamous on camera interview where he goes toe-to-toe with CNN anchor Don Lemon. Kweli has also openly scrutinized the prison industrial complex and the war on drugs.
7. Andre 3000
As one-half of the Hip Hop super duo Outkast, Andre 3000 is spokesperson for PETA and is active in the Declare Yourself campaign, a campaign geared towards encouraging young people to vote. Andre is also a avid supporter of black women and diversity of skin tones. Andre 3000 has been known to ask his concert goers why darker skin is considered ugly in all ethnic groups.
Solange takes a different approach than her megastar sister Beyonce. While Bey wears booty-showing outfits and long weave, Solange rocks her natural hair and chooses outfits more artistic to the eye. Solange is a big supporter of black-owned businesses and has been known for starting a number of protest rallies and marches during the controversy of Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, and other victims of violence and police brutality.
9. Janelle Monae
Known for wearing suits and her James Brown inspired dance moves, Janelle Monae has used her platform to address the issues of domestic abuse, LGBT rights, and racism. Monae is open about her support of feminism, stating in previous interviews, and notably her appearance on BET’s Black Girls Rock!, that she wears a suit to represent strength in women, as well as representing her mother who was a janitor.
10. David Banner
Southern Hip Hop artist turned activist David Banner has made a complete 180 in his appearance and his message. Banner might of started out his career in Hip Hop with songs such as “Like A Pimp” and “Play”, but has since changed his image. He has had a major role in helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina and has since been very vocal on police brutality, violence in the black community, and misogyny in Hip Hop. Recently at the BET Hip Hop Awards, Banner took the time in his cypher to call out all white Hip Hop artist who haven’t spoken up about Ferguson.
11. Janet Jackson
The Queen of Pop and one of the most influential female artist of all time has always brought us music with a message and dedicated time when she’s off stage and outside the studio. The youngest member of the Jackson family has been the voice of domestic abuse, education, racism, HIV/AIDS awareness, LGBT rights and feminism (way before Beyonce). In the past, Janet has personally spoken to kids about education and self-confidence. To this day, Jackson still is heavily involved in social justice and changing the world, one dance step at a time thanks to Ms. Rhythm Nation.
12. Chuck D
Seen by many as the Godfather of Hip Hop and one of the important figures to help shape the consciousness of Hip Hop, Chuck D made an impact on rap music by bringing a raw and gritty awareness to discrimination and injustice. Chuck has been vocal throughout the years about racism and politics affecting minorities and the poor. The New York rapper has also spoken up about materialism and sexism and is constantly questioning the state of Hip Hop, which is often said to be devolving. In his 50s, Chuck is still actively involved in politics and hip hop and is currently on the board of TransAfrica Forum, a Pan African organization that works for the rights of Africa, Caribbean and Latin American issues.