The idea of Young Jeezy and Al Gore walking into a bartogethermay now not be so entirely far-fetched. Perhaps after an initial hasty gander, sure, hip-hop and environmentalism seem like an unlikely pair. But the two social movements actually share more commonalities than they do differences.
Both movements can trace their lineage back to fiery subculture groups that emerged around the same time. Not long before Grandmaster Flash rapped about having a bum education and the endless cycle of poverty and violence on The Message in 1982, sustainability had become a part of the American consciousness as a notch on the hippie agenda in the 1960s.
Since the days of Public Enemy and the birth of Greenpeace, hip-hop and environmentalism have both benefited from commercial exposure, but grassroots activism remains at their essence. The day when hip-hop artists would work to forward green initiatives was inevitable, and today prominent figures in hip-hop are extolling the values of going green.
Not So Eco-Friendly Music Industry Practices
Each year, the music industry leaves a sizable carbon footprint on the planet. From the flashing lights used to power arenas, to the environmentally taxing process of manufacturing and distributing CDs across the country, the industry could use a major makeover.
Rapper Drake Goes Green
While artists and groups like Sheryl Crow and Linkin Park have taken up greening the music industry as a cause, rapper and Toronto native Drake has become a pioneer amongst hip-hop artists working towards reversing dirty energy practices.
In 2010, Drake joined forces with Green the Block (a campaign developed by Green for All and the Hip Hop Caucus) to embark upon the Campus Consciousness Tour. As part of the tour, Drake traveled on a bio-diesel fuel bus to venues with carbon-offsetting practices. The tour also featured a Green Jobs Rally to promote green economy jobs in minority communities.
The Roots Brings Composting to Schools
The Roots are founding members of Green Music Group, a coalition of music artists, industry professionals and fans that aim to bring environmental change to the music industry. The eclectic hip-hop group launched Feed Your Roots in 2007, a campaign to get composting programs into schools. Like Drake, The Roots also travels on a tour bus that runs on bio-diesel.
Russell Simmons, Hip-Hop’s Green Entrepreneur
It would only make sense that one of hip-hop’s most influential figures would be at the vanguard of eco-consciousness within the hip-hop community. Russell Simmons is not only a mogul and an entrepreneur but also a vocal proponent of green issues. In 2009, Simmons was the spokesperson of a contest to find Americas Greenest Campus and was also featured in a commercial that aired on BET about going green. Simmons also follows an environmentally-friendly diet as a vegan.