We have a soft spot for rappers giving back.
Rappers giving back is a great opportunity to both display humility and pay homage to where they came from. In the age of information & social media, people have recorded these actions to inspire others to do the same. Almonte, however, expressed some criticisms of these types of videos society has deemed ‘too positive’ to have any negative feelings about. He warns that “poor people are not your props” to rappers recording themselves in charitable acts.
Almonte even mentions the Netflix documentary ‘Poverty Inc’ about Haiti’s foreign-aid crisis. America has been one of the best poverty pimps. Disenfranchising entire countries and trying to pick up the pieces with feel-good acts of individual charity in the foreign aid industry. Rappers giving back haven’t individually contributed to the poverty these countries endure. But they passively benefit from the privileges provided by living in America– a capitalist ‘haven’ that reaps the benefits of new imperialism. Where they can leave to and fro between disenfranchised Caribbean islands whenever they need a vacation. Or need to use their beautiful privatized beaches as film sets. If rappers truly want to help eliminate poverty, giving back crumbs won’t cut it. Building institutions that would restore the economy of these exploited countries organically will.
Watch Almonte’s video about rappers giving back transcribed by @imshawneejay :
“Yo rappers when you make it poor people are not your props. Poverty is not a playground.
Exhibit A: We got Drake… who we know is a snake for copying shit all the time. He allegedy has stolen XXtentacion’s flow when he was supposed to do a song with him. Then right after X came out with the helping hand challenge, Drake came out throwing shade at the helping hand after he did the whole, “God’s Plan” video, and everybody thought he was the G.O.A.T. because he spent a cool $1,000,000 giving it away to people. With the 280 million views of the people flocking to this video for those feel good hormones of giving away to the poor he probably recouped way more than that cool millon that he spent, and hood tourism isn’t cute…especially when we know he didn’t start from the bottom now… and it’s like this is an untouchable topic just because it’s doing something positive in people’s lives. Just because hey, he’s giving out free shit. What is the negative to find in that? It’s like you can never criticize because everybody sees you as some sort of bah humbug, but I actually recommend you to go look at this Netflix documentary called, “Poverty Inc.” where people were donating rice to Haiti, and then this whole trend of giving more and more and more foreign aid to these poor countries actually wound up hurting Haiti.. and speaking of, “third world countries” that brings me to my next point.
Tekashi69… which is an even more nuanced conversation because Tekashi69 is literally the underdog that was not supposed to make it. Tekashi’s the hottest artist in New York City right now whether you love him or you hate him, the n*****’s topping charts multiple times. He was not lying on, “The Breakfast Club” when he said it was going to be the most viewed, especially when it got almost as half as many views in two days as Birdman’s one-year-old video. This is somebody that’s just trying to give back because he wishes that somebody would’ve did that when he was younger because he really was in the struggle. My issue is that he comes off weird promoting that he’s shooting his music video in Dominican Republic:
Clip of Tekashi69- “I’m in DR right now shooting my new music video, “G.E.D.” I always thought I knew what was the meaning of being poor…until I got to DR, and it showed me and gave me a realization of what being poor really was.”
Where the “real” poverty is at…Poverty takes many forms people. So anyone that doesn’t know what he’s been doing in the past may look at it as, “This dude is just doing this to promote his music video” when he actually HAS been giving back to kids in schools around his neighborhood locally all the time. Being somebody that has gone to Dominican Republic many times and has seen the poverty first hand in the hood (I had a crib there) and you can even see the desperation, like some little girl even comes and says, “Es de verdad?” …she’s wondering if the money is fake and they’re just running back and calling their friends to come and get money as well… because s***, I’m poor in New York, but I go down there and n*****s look at me like I’m a millionaire. These little kids in Santo Domingo will go crazy if you just give them like $20. Even though Tekashi69 does come from poverty himself and he’s doing this innocently as a way of genuinely giving back as he’s always doing, other rappers could see this as some kind of way to form more publicity or to win some brownie points at the expense of using poor people as a prop.
Yes, while this is a temporary fix to the permanent problem of poverty we have to criticize why these people are poor in the first place. It’s like that quote, “When I feed the poor they call me a saint, but when I ask why they poor in the first place they call me a communist.” So, we have to take necessary steps to have more longevity and to actually helping these people as opposed to just giving them a cookie now and then for some feel good hormones. Obviously, Tekashi69 wasn’t thinking about this on some crazy political level. He was just trying to do something good. I dead understand.
So, a lot of ya’’ll are like, “So how should we do it then?”…”How are we supposed to help the poor if you’re criticizing something so positive?” Akon bought solar energy to over 80 million Africans and that s*** barely gets any type of publicity. I wonder why? Hopefully this trend in hip-hop isn’t just a bunch of people throwing their crumbs at poor people for tax write-offs, but they actually start considering why poverty exists in the first place, and how they can use money to create infrastructure for these people to actually fend for themselves democratically for these people to have ownership over their own institutions instead of waiting on another rapper to come give them a 100 dollar bill.”