Hip-hop just celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and the world marveled at how a music genre and cultural movement birthed out of the stripping of arts programming in the South Bronx has become the number-one-selling and most influential art form in history. Still, despite its undeniable impact— many of those voices from the early days are struggling to live.
Only a handful can live off of residuals from their music because the pioneers made names from themselves on the underground with mixtapes, and occasionally with a few concert appearances. The rest, have had to hustle to live and figure out life expenses like rent, food, and medical insurance.
Thanks to artists like Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent, a couple of these artists have a lifeline.
Taking Care Of Your Own
During an appearance last week on “All the Smoke” podcast with former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, the “Gin & Juice” recording artist said he and one of his industry colleagues decided to step in and support other rappers in need — but have kept those efforts for the most part under wraps.
“You got to take care of your own,” Snoop said. “You got to set an example. We do it privately. I’ve done it many years with so many artists that needed help, that needed physical and financial help. It’s not a public thing for me.”
There are movements like “The Hip Hop Alliance” that are functioning like unions. This organization, founded by Chuck D, Kurtis Blow, and KRS-One (with MC Lyte and Doug E. Fresh as a part of its leadership), has partnered with other organizations to make health care affordable.
While speaking via video at last fall’s “Dead Rappers Get Better Promotion: The Health Crisis in Hip-Hop” town hall in New York, Kurtis Blow stressed, “Without good health, there will be no hip-hop, y’all.”
“I went through my own health crisis a couple of years ago,” he said before sharing he had four heart operations, with the last one being a full heart transplant. “I know the importance of health. As a matter of fact, it became my top priority.”
He said this was one of the reasons he formed the Hip Hop Alliance and its program The Legends Fund. This fund provides emergency dollars to its “members who fall on hard times,” providing assistance for utility bills, funerals, and other mental and physical health challenges for artists from the silver and golden ages of rap music.
MusiCares has also launched Humans of Hip Hop, a program also set up to help with providing health and human services to rap recording artists.
Noting the public strides, Snoop says there is a responsibility for artists with resources to take care of their own.
“When they did that publicly, that’s what it’s supposed to be because now the young generation … Respect your elders, because you making all this money, not that you have to, but if you love this rapper and respect this rapper, you see he’s down on his luck, he may need some money, but he has pride,” Snoop told his hosts. “He can’t even ask you ’cause he used to be you. But you have enough man in you to say, ‘I’mma throw you something.'”
He continued: “There have been many times where me and 50 Cent together have called some of our OGs and put bags on it. And OG like, ‘Oh man, nah.’ We ain’t trying to hear that sh-t, we know [what] you need. ‘Here, n—ga.’ That’s what it got to be. But that’s who we are, that’s who me and 50 is. I can’t speak for everybody else, but if any OG that me and him respect… It’s happened a couple of times, that’s why I can bring his name up. I don’t have to say the person or the people, but he feel like I feel.”
According to the West Coast legend, the competitive 50 Cent said, “I don’t like you beating me to the donation, n—ga. We going to have to donate together.”
50 Cent saw the clip and reposted it on his X profile, confirming what Snoop said was true.
“All facts! @SnoopDogg is the real deal no [cap] involved,” he wrote.