Hip hop and Haiti

Peacekeeping - MINUSTAH

I know this is a bit of a dated post, being that the earthquake happened some time ago, but I thought I would take the opportunity to highlight some of the work being done, hype up some fundraising opportunities, and talk about the tight connection between hip hop and Haiti.

I’m sure most of you have heard about Yele Haiti, the charity started by Wyclef Jean.  He is probably one of the most prominent hip hop artists with direct Haiti ties, but certainly not the least.  And yes, there has been a fair amount of controversy with the organization, with some accusing it of misusing raised funds.  Wyclef has strenuously denied these, and I believe him.  Even if procedures were not followed to the letter, I do not believe there was any attempt at fraud or anything like that.  And it’s hard to deny that Yele has been doing some good for people on the ground, so I’m more than willing to overlook minor transgressions (providing they were accidental and that they are not repeated).

Looking at other Haitian hip hop artists, you can remember former-Fugee Pras as well.  Above that, you’ve got Trugoy from De La Soul, and, sadly, Tony Yayo.

Perhaps it’s because some fairly prominent rappers are Haitian, or perhaps it’s because of a professed affinity for a struggling black community, the hip hop community in North America has responded tremendously to the need for aid.

A bunch of hip hop artists supported Clooney’s telethon, which was heartwarming, entertaining, and informative.  Though it’s funny to me that Kanye was specifically not invited to be a part of George Clooney’s Hope for Haiti telethon.  The argument was that he had repeatedly proven that that he was more interested in promoting himself and seemed to disregard the greater good.  Now, I’m not going to say that I support this, but I’m not exactly going to advocate against this.  Still, hate him or not, he does get attention, and bringing attention to Haiti is something I do support.

Better still, hip hop was clearly a major influence on the remake of We Are the World. Kanye got his moment by appearing here, as did Wyclef, Snoop Dogg, Drake, LL Cool J, will.i.am and others.  What tripped me out the most is that Lil Wayne is doing Bob Dylan’s part from the original We are the World.

[Update: Video is below]

Some key things to remember.

  • Feb 12 is the last day for the Canadian government to match donations.  So hit up any of these listed charities for donations.  Try CanadaforHaiti or the Canadian Red Cross.  If you’re a texter: The Canadian Red Cross Society: Text REDCROSS to 30333 ($5); The Salvation Army in Canada: Text HAITI to 45678 ($5);UNICEF CANADA: Text GIVE to 45678 ($5).
  • In the US, the donations are conveniently consolidated by Google here.  Or text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts; text “YELE” to 501501 to Donate $5 to Yele Haiti’s Earthquake Relief efforts.

[Image from the UNDP’s Flickr photostream]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *