Hip-hop for Climate Change

Do you believe it has almost been thirty years since the historic recording of the song “We Are the World”? That means there is an entire generation of people who although are very familiar with the song, were not born when the song was recorded and initially released. It also means there is an entire generation today that may not know the purpose of the song. Music is produced every day and of course, the songs are personal to the writer, performer or both. Nevertheless, there are many songs created to further a cause. “We are the World” is a good example of this because it was written and recorded in order to aid famine in Africa. I still remember Quincy Jones asking all the top tier entertainers to “leave their egos at the door of the studio“. It was necessary in order to make the recording work for the cause, and all of the artists were willing to contribute their talents for African famine relief.

Twenty-five years after the initial “We Are the World” came another gathering of artists to help aid the victims of the earthquake that struck Haiti. Let us not forget all the great music that was created during the US civil rights movement. Yes, there is a long, colorful history of artists gathering to aid particular causes, and it has happened once again. This time hip-hop artists have gathered to assist the environmental and climate movement. A truly worldwide movement, environmental issues and climate change effect the entire world population, helping us understand why musical artists would lend their talents.

Helping others in time of need usually places everyone on the same side in a willingness to help in some form. Both “We Are the World” projects were extremely popular at their times of release. However, like the civil rights movements, global climate issues are politically divisive which means not everyone agrees with proposed actions. Regardless of the political stand anyone may take, the music is now in existence and will be heard by many generations to come.

‘The People’s Climate Music’ album HOME — or Heal Our Mother Earth — is a hip hop album produced with Hip Hop Caucus, and released in partnership with NRDC, 350.org, Avaaz, and Sierra Club. Highly respected popular artists such as Common, Malik Yusef, Ne-Yo and Antonique Smith contributed to this globally inspired musical masterpiece. Upon listening to the album, you will hear a collection of well-produced tracks. A couple of familiar songs like Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” performed by Ne-Yo are well placed in this catalog.

Common and Malik Yusef

One thing that is a big difference from the “We are the World” recordings is that HOME is an album of eleven songs, instead of everyone joining in on one song. Maybe the decision to record an entire album instead of one song allows for more creativity.  Several well-established musical difference-makers in Common, Ne-yo, and Malik Yusef take advantage of a couple of opportunities to work together, and individually. Thus, we have an album of diverse music connected by one purpose: help for the global environment.

After considering the merits of recording an entire album to support the climate movement, another thought came to mind. HOME is designed to do more than help one cause – like help for those suffering from the effects of a disaster. HOME is an album that supports a movement. That means like the civil rights movement, the climate movement may bring us more music from an even a wider variety of musicians for years to come. Yes, HOME may only be the beginning.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood

The fact that hip-hop musicians have taken on a prominent role in the climate movement is no chance development. Notice what is written about the leadership of Hip Hop Caucus’ on its web site: “Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, is a minister, community activist and one of the most influential people in Hip Hop political life. He works tirelessly to encourage the Hip Hop generation to utilize its political and social voice. In 2010, he was named one of the 100 most powerful African Americans by Ebony Magazine, and one of the 10 Game Changers in the Green movement by the Huffington Post. In 2008, Rev Yearwood created the Hip Hop Caucus’ “Respect My Vote!” campaign with celebrity spokespeople T.I. and Keyshia Cole, which turned out record numbers of young people on Election Day.”

Yearwood’s leadership has brought hip-hop artists and their worldwide fans into the global climate change movement. Some music is created to raise money for particular causes; HOME is aiming to raise awareness of world conditions. For now, HOME is available for download on itunes. Get your copy and enjoy an excellent album of contemporary music for a cause – climate change.

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