The Source | Hip-Hop and the Future of Sustainability


When most people think of the intersection of sustainability and popular culture, the hip-hop community is probably not the first genre that comes to mind. However, the hip-hop community has been emerging as a leader in green investments, clothing lines, businesses, and other charitable initiatives for several years. While hip = hop artists typically don’t rap about Earth Day and Recycling, many of the best artists in the business have found ways to incorporate sustainability into their personal brands. Here is a look at some of the hip-hop artists who are leading this movement.

Bionic man: Pharrell

In 2005, Pharrell founded the Billionaire Boys Club, an iconic fashion brand in Japan that prided itself not only on its flexible style, but also on the quality of its materials and design. One of these materials is literally undesirable. In 2014, Pharrell signed on as Creative Director of Bionic Yarn, a company that turns plastic waste from the oceans into high-quality textiles. The sustainable textiles produced by Bionic Yarn have been used in a variety of brands such as Timberland, Burton, H&M, and more, as well as many of Pharrell’s own collections, including its own Billionaire Boys Club, Icecream and Adidas fashion lines. In addition to turning approximately seven million plastic bottles and other plastics recovered from marine and coastal environments into clothing, the company also provides jobs for hundreds of employees in Central America, North America and Asia. They also provide educational and empowerment opportunities for local communities and environmental organizations.

Gang leader: SZA

In 2018, R&B superstar SZA first unveiled the first look at Ctrl Fishing Company, its collection of sustainable merchandise, clothing made largely from recycled materials, some of which promoted eco-friendly initiatives with phrases such as ” Puck Flastic “and” Sustainability Gang “. The profits from his initiative, in partnership with Slow Factory, will be donated to charities. The artist emphasized the importance of thinking globally and acting locally, encouraging her Instagram followers to exemplify sustainability in their own neighborhoods and become more involved in the sustainability conversation.

Light of the World (Hip-Hop): Akon

Akon expressed very clearly his passion for building a sustainable future for Africa. In 2014, the artist founded the Akon Lighting Africa Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help tackle the lack of electricity for more than 600 million people across Africa by using “ an innovative solar-powered solution that will allow African villages to access an affordable source of electricity. The ultimate goal is for the electricity supplied to enable users to access the Internet for educational and professional purposes, as well as to provide a safer environment for the most vulnerable populations in the region.

Fire rest: Lizzo

In early 2020, Australia was ravaged by devastating bushfires. While the superstar Lizzo is best known for her charitable efforts with suicide prevention initiatives, she has also come up in a big way to not only offer wall support to those affected by the fires, but also logistical support. Lizzo, who was in Melbourne for a music festival, heard about the bushfires and their impact on local communities and the environment. The Lizzo team reached out to Foodbank Victoria in Australia to offer assistance. Lizzo personally introduced himself and worked side-by-side with volunteers to help pack emergency food baskets, providing emergency food and water to communities affected by the bushfires. His involvement continues to raise awareness of Australia’s Farms to Families food bank program, an organization that emphasizes sustainability within local farming systems.

Green belt: 50 cent

When most people think of New York and nature (apart from Central Park), the first term that might come to mind is “concrete jungle”. Rapper 50 Cent hopes to change that through his efforts with the New York Restoration Project, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming open spaces in underfunded communities to create a greener, more sustainable New York City. The organization is responsible for planting trees, renovating gardens and green spaces, restoring parks and fortifying aging infrastructure, all in the name of creating a healthier environment for those who live in the neighborhoods. the most densely populated and least green in the city. 50 cents even has its own community garden through the organization – the Curtis ʺ50 Centʺ Jackson Community Garden in the Jamaican neighborhood of Queens. In addition to the facilities designed by local artists, the green space is home to a learning garden for children, vegetable gardens and a unique rainwater harvesting system – consisting of 10-foot-high funnels – which provides a regular irrigation, as well as shade for rest and relaxation.

Water Boy: Jaden Smith

Even if Jaden smith was only 15 during the water crisis in Flint, that didn’t stop him from being inspired to make sure others weren’t denied access to clean drinking water. In fact, Jaden’s eco-trip began when he was 10 years old, when he first noticed plastic trash floating around him while surfing. All of this enabled him to launch the Just Water company, an organization dedicated to providing access to safe drinking water to millions of people around the world. Capitalizing on his family’s vast network of connections, he and his partner Drew Fitzgerald developed the Water Box, a filtration system that allows residents to connect to available water sources. The Water Box can be easily transported and quickly installed in communities where the water supply may be contaminated. The device, which is a sustainable alternative to water bottles, filters lead and other contaminants, reducing plastic waste and at the same time providing access to clean water. Through his non-profit organization 501CThree, Smith is working to develop other technologies that can help conserve some of the planet’s natural resources.

Eco-Angel: Nas

As many rappers move from rapper to actor, the hip-hop legend Nas has become one of the smartest angel investors in the financial world. A founding member of the QueensBridge Venture Partners investment group, he has made multiple investments in green businesses, including ProducePay, the very first agricultural commerce e-commerce platform for perishable goods. ProducePay provides access to working capital financing and product sourcing, providing a financial solution to hundreds of producers, distributors and receivers around the world. His group has also invested in ONEHOPE, an environmentally friendly wine estate that engages in global reforestation projects around the world. Many of the Nas Group’s other investments include technology solutions that help small businesses stay on budget by eliminating paper receipts and other waste that take up landfill space. In addition to the green investments, the company has also made a number of other successful investments, including its investment in Ring, which was acquired by Amazon in 2018 for $ 4.5 million.

Ms. Generosity: Queen Latifah

Queen latifah is a fitting grand finale on this list as she’s well known as one of the most charitable celebrities in the world (not just within the hip-hop community). Its charitable activities include women’s empowerment programs, LGBTQ + causes, cancer charities and more, including Generosity Water, an environmental organization dedicated to ending the drinking water crisis in developing countries. development, one community at a time. Through innovative awareness campaigns, strategic implementation, and deep accountability, they hope to inspire people to think globally and live generously.

In addition to the examples above, many hip-hop stars are incorporating reusable materials into their clothing lines and partnering with earth-centered charities and nonprofits. Perhaps Jaden Smith best sums up the new hip-hop attitude to the earth, describing it as “making a low-carbon lifestyle cool, accessible and ubiquitous” and influencing “the adoption of attitudes and attitudes. positive behaviors for the climate ”. For a genre that has been trending for nearly five decades, hip-hop stars just might be the ones saving the planet.

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