Music has always had the power to unite people. Whether it brings them together around a campfire, a radio, a church service, or a concert, it’s undeniable the draw and power that music can have on people. Of course, music is also a business. It generates a huge amount of money every single year for artists, labels, musicians, merchants, and dozens of other professions but it is also capable of using its power to raise money for a worthwhile cause.
In 1985, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie got together to write “We Are the World,” a song to raise awareness and money to help alleviate famine in Africa. They brought together dozens and dozens of respected musicians to record and release this charity single. The song was released on March 7th 1985 and went on to sell over 20 million copies, which was almost unprecedented. In fact, there are only about thirty singles in the history of recorded music to have ever sold over 10 million copies and that’s only half of what this single did.
This wasn’t the first super-group for charity and it certainly wasn’t the last. The idea gained a lot of momentum from “Do They Know It’s Christmas” one year earlier. This was the brainchild of Bob Geldof who not only released a very successful single but went on to throw huge concerts under the banner of Live Aid to raise money for the cause.
Right around this time of global awareness and charity building, rap music was just appearing on the radar of popular culture. It wouldn’t take long before rappers started to unite for a cause as well.
Welcome to Know Your History. I’m your host Chase March and for the next half hour, we will be exploring the supergroups within hip-hop that united for a cause to raise awareness and money for a variety of different issues.
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