I Ain’t Hatin’: Rap artist Plies Establishes Scholarship


[Editor’s Note (11/6/08): I AM NOT PLIES, AND I DO NOT KNOW PLIES]

I must have missed this memo because I’m sure I would have written this post a few weeks earlier.  However, better late than never.


I really laughed out loud when my internet friend Trini Uppity, who about five minutes ago told me that Algernod Lanier Washington, better known as Plies had a scholarship for kids who’s parents were in jail.  I was like, wow, that’s the epitome of negritude, and that it really was some Fried Chicken and Watermelon nonsense.  And then in the time it took me to press “Publish” on the previous post on Usain Bolt and walk around to restore circulation that I realised that Plies was doing what most conscious people in the hip hop culture criticize for more of the rap artist to do.  And it’s definitely doing something that those outside of our community criticize hip hoppers for not doing.

The organization’s first effort will be the “Somebody Loves You” Scholarship Fund 2008 (named after the song “Somebody (Loves You) “from his current album), which is designed specifically for students attending an accredited college or university, who have a parent(s) that is presently incarcerated and who is financially disadvantaged. The scholarship is open to students who are currently enrolled or who will be entering school this fall. Two scholarships will be awarded to one male and one female in the amount of $5000 each.

According to a published Senate report in September of 2000, as many as 70 percent of children of incarcerated parents will become involved with the criminal justice system unless effective intervention strategies are set in place. Big Gates and Plies Power Of Visions, Inc. hopes to inspire and encourage these at-risk youth to break the cycle of incarceration. Co-founder Plies comments, “We want to provide those who have been and continue to be affected by the negative impacts of the prison system with a sense of hope, and to let them know that they are not forgotten. No matter what adversities one may face in life, one thing remains true – and that is that somebody loves you.” Source: http://www.hiphoplinguistics.com/news/2008/08/rapper-plies-creates-non-profit-organization-and-scholarship-fund

For the sole reason Plies, who is the epitome of gangsta hip hop, I can’t give him the coveted Uppity Award, but since I Ain’t Hatin’ on him doing what he do, I created a new category.  I would much rather accentuate the positive aspects of his nature that include this scholarship foundation than continue ad nauseum about the quality of his lyrics–we already know where he stands on that. 

But I do encourage my readers to wrestle with the tension of the two.  I don’t have an answer, but I still think we’re in the conversation phase of this battle.  I don’t think the black community has done a good enough job of engaging the elders and the hip hop generation and now what I’ve simply dubbed the Soulja Boy Generation (1990 and forward) in a three way conversation that acknowledges that compromises need to be made on all three fronts.

Personally, I do think that Soulja Boy’s “Crank Dat” was the eulogy for what we officially categorized as hip hop, I mean there is no level of social critique in any of the singles (I didn’t buy the CD, so I will stand to be corrected if I need to be).  Clearly Soulja Boy et. al. are just going for radio play time and single status.  But, moreover, making sure that their beats are ringtone friendly.


Have we really devolved into creating music just so it sounds good when your cell phone rings?  But that’s a whole ‘nother post more pointed at the cell phone companies, distributors and ad companies.

The consciousness, whatever it was, that the original hip hop generation had was something that I think that the Soulja Boy generation could learn from.  By the same token the original hip hop generation (c. 1965-c. 1985) were the ones that initially began to glorify violence and the misogyny of women.  The elders just need to realise that as Otis Moss III has said that they are 45s operating in an .mp3 world–the same music (or message) can be transmitted, but you’ve got to find a new way of doing it.

But it seems nowadays that it’s all about swag–how you carry yourself and how you portray yourself is about the only currency you have.  Don’t get me wrong, the level of confidence or swag that I see in the artists that consider themselves hip hop (both rap, hardcore rap and r&b), I think some of the swag is misplaced.  I think if they understood somethings differently, perhaps something that the elders should have done a better job of passing down, then their swag would be portrayed in a different way.

Such as Plies, perhaps.

What is your take on the current state of hip hop?  Not some Cousin Jeff surface feelings, but deep down in your gut feelings.  I think we’re quickly approaching a state of emergency as to just how out of bounds blacks in this country are with regards to my generation and younger towards hip hop culture.  What do you think our next step should be–are we even on the first step?

Don’t forget to check out my latest posts.

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

13 thoughts on “I Ain’t Hatin’: Rap artist Plies Establishes Scholarship

  1. I am white & don’t follow any hip hop so I can’t answer your question about any performer. I remain quite clueless despite having a small speaking role in a student-made documentary about hip hop (I was taped speaking about the problems of youth). I read about hip hop some, but I don’t actually watch it or listen to it. The student who made the documentary (a born-again Christian Latino guy who used to be a drug dealer who works closely with other Black & White Christians on a variety of positive youth programs) organized a program to teach positive values to school children using hip hop. And there’s a group of people around here who put on annual hip hop conferences stressing the “real” hip hop that challenges power as opposed to the sell-out mainstream hip hop that caters to whites and teaches black people bad images of themselves.

    The question of whether to let someone doing something immoral buy good will by helping needy children is a complicated problem. NOW turned down money from the Playboy Foundation, and many other groups turn down tainted money. But it isn’t clear who would turn down a scholarship. However, what many people don’t know is that scholarships to needy young people can be useless if they get financial aid from a college: many colleges just cut your financial aid package by the amount of the “outside” scholarship, so the student ends up not a dime ahead and the school saves money.

    All of which is a long-winded way of explaining why I understand the question but have nothing to contribute toward answering it. I mostly wrote only because I think you want to know someone is reading, although I know you’d prefer it was other black bloggers.

  2. @olderwoman

    First, the whole point of this blog is to encourage conversation. I really don’t have a target audience–the only target is that the topics will ultimately appeal to WHOMEVER reads it.

    I MORE than welcome getting a perspective such as yours and I’m happy that you’re one of my readers.

  3. What is your take on the current state of hip hop?

    I think it is a mess…From Bust it Baby to My Lip Gloss is Popping, I think that what is out there today is somewhat of a slap in the face of cats like Brand Nubians, Rakim, Gangstarr, KRS, etc. To me, that was hip hop (although there are a handful of younger guys today who make songs with substance). Much of what is out there today is play. For example, I saw a video of Bow-Wow and Soulja Boy and the song was Marco Polo…or some foolishness like that. Really people? That’s hip-hop?! SMH

    What do you think our next step should be–are we even on the first step?

    1) Recognize that these younger cats are going to continue with this silly sounding songs and related dances

    2) Provide positive alternatives for our youth. Let them know that the so-called reality that most of these rappers live is more than likely not going to be their (the youth’s) reality. Therefore, they need to focus on school, sports, other extra curricular activities. I think when adults are active in the lives of our young people, our influence can lead to very positive effects.

    Lastly, although I think the whole scholarship thing is admirable, it really does look a little off juxtaposed to his lyrics and antics (i.e. his little Bust it Baby video chick thing that was blasted all over the internet).

  4. @talented tenth

    I think our current state sucks–flat out. For the simple reason that its dumb!

    That’s it…if there was some redeeming value behind it, take even a Jay-Z, then I would feel better just because there’s something intelligent about the lyrics. I’m sorry, Marco Polo is a hot mess. I’m more mad at Bow Wow because they went off on him on some MTV show because they said how is trying to get people to take him serious by doing some ringtone happy song with Soulja Bow.

    I’m interested to read what John McWhorter got to say about this. His book “All About the Beat” is saying more or less hip hop is not the savior many of us were trying to make it out to be. At first I thought it had the potential, but um….then Soulja Boy came out and totally switched the game.

    Honestly, the newer the rappers, the more I fault them because these are the ones who got sucked into the materalism that was purported by the old school rappers you mentioned. And then since this is good ol A-merry-ca, the distributors and advertisers didn’t do a damn thing to stop these rappers from RENTING all of this stuff to do they music videos. For older rappers like Common perhaps, the game kinda changed while they were still on it. These new kats, like Plies or Soulja Boy or that godforsaken Yung Berg, these people just got sucked into all this BS and I wish people would just wake up.

  5. I just want to say congrats to Plies for making an effort towards change. Like you said, he is doing exactly what we ask rappers and other entertainers to do all of the time. The media should cover things like this all of the time, maybe it will encourage others to follow. Instead the media loves to focus on what people are not doing. We will never be able to change, as long as we continue to bring each other down. Say congrats sometimes! Thanks Uppity for talking about this, even if it is a week old! lol I bet people still didn’t know anything about it.

  6. We fall for anything now-a-dayz! I guess $5,000 is all it takes to wash your hands off these days. Ole boy has inspired a nation of youth to carry themselves as Goons, but yet on the other hand, this tax write off PR is suppose to override his mainstream message. Maybe if he begins to deliver a positive, hopeful message in his music, it wouldn’t look as hypocritical. It’s almost like Martin Luther King delivering the I Have a Dream Speech and then grabbing one of the fire hoses and turning them on his people, along side the oppressors! Either you wanna lead the youth to College or Prison, we need to make up our minds!!

  7. waz up idk if you got my frist comment but hrers another am 16 i stay in tallahssee fl i go to godby high this is for my lil sister shes 14 and in the 8th grade her dad been in and out of prison for years ever since she was born and crrently just went back to prison i woul like for you to give her a shot she s smart very and has a lot to offer bascillay kids like us has just a couple options and am quite sure you know what they are i just want her to know there are other optiuons to make it out from where live and be more then proud to give back too i would love for you to help us well her please plus we love! and my mama is your number one fan trust me and shes a hard worken lady been an single mom all her life and made a dfference in my eyes it hasent always been easy for us i guess cause we get judge by the people from where we stay this will mean alot me please say yes thanks kylena

  8. first of all im plies first lady and i just had to tell him that i love him so much and been lovin him from the start ~plies first lady~

  9. It ain’t nothing wrong with someone giving back to the community to ones who needed, there are plenty rappers who has made multi millions and want give shit, all they worried about is making more, and more money. They ain’t thinking about their fans, but Plies he’s on the money, thats my man and I Love Him.I have so much in common with him, I’m a smart hood type of REALIST girl – “im good”… Representing North Carolina *leelee*

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