Over the years, hip hop has earned an infamous reputation for glorifying a street life of crime and misogyny while boasting about expensive jewelry and designer clothing. Today, mainstream hip hop rarely discusses the day-to-day struggles that are faced by a majority of its listeners. Even less often do we hear rappers talk about the struggles of being homeless, paying for college tuition or simply making ends meet and when this type of message is presented, the resolution is usually selling drugs, robbing or killing.
Despite the image of self-aggrandizement that is usually portrayed in hip hop, there are some artists who believe in giving back to and refining the communities that raised them.
Hip Hop Cares was founded in January 2013 when members of hip hop collective Solo Grand decided to mix their greatest passions, music and giving back to their community, thus leading to the creation of the Hip Hop Cares Festival.
With a majority of the group members experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives, Hip Hop Cares is dedicated to raising awareness and funds to end homelessness.
According to the Homelessness Task Force, Atlanta is the poorest city in the U.S. for children. More children in Atlanta live in poverty than in any other city and the average age of a homeless child in Atlanta is 6.
“The thing that is so disturbing is that there are so many homeless children in the city,” said Maria Talbert, who regularly volunteers to feed the homeless. “Homelessness is a bigger issue here in Atlanta than a lot of people think.”
It has been estimated that more than 21,000 people are homeless in Georgia. A survey done by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs concluded that 50 percent of homeless people in Georgia are African American.
“Hip Hop Cares is an organization geared toward helping our local communities through charity and music,” said Jackie Murphy, the event’s coordinator.
In conjunction with I Care Atlanta, Inc., members from Solo Grand, BlackShades Music Group and TTM will host the first ever Hip Hop Cares Festival. The festival will consist of an artist showcase, Miss Hip Hop Cares Pageant, beat and freestyle battles and hip hop trivia contests among other activities.
“We all come from similar struggles,” said rapper MH of BlackShades Music Group. “We all experienced some type of homelessness and we all do music so we decided to bring awareness to this issue through the music.”
Music from the festival’s performers will be combined into a compilation mixtape and will be sold during the festival. Proceeds from the festival and the mixtape will be donated to I Care Atlanta, Inc. and its effort to end homelessness.
Featured artists for the festival include Colonel Stahl, Yunge Ace, Fasho, Forever Young Ent. and Don Cazz.
I Care Atlanta, Inc., formerly known as My Brother’s Keepers Reaching Out, is dedicated to a mission of ending homelessness. The organization’s founder, Anthony Delgado, even experienced homelessness at one point in his life. The organization provides resources such as mentor programs, job placement and food collection.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, only 30 percent of income should be spent on housing. Thrirty percent of minimum wage in Atlanta is roughly $270 per month for rent. The average two-bedroom apartment in Atlanta rents for $834 a month.
With such an epidemic sweeping across the city so rapidly, MH and the other artists are determined to tackle an issue that once affected some of them.
“Our main objective is to build awareness,” said MH. “We want to get people regularly involved in giving back. It doesn’t always have to be monetary. It could be spiritual, or advice or just a kind gesture.”
Those interested in giving back for the cause are encouraged to make donations at the festivals website. Donations will also be collected on the day of the festival.
The festival’s organizers are still looking for interested sponsors and volunteers.
The festival will take place Sunday, April 21 from 2 pm until 11 pm at Space Atlanta. Tickets for the event can be purchased at HipHopCaresATL.com for $10.