It's that time of year again. Everyone is looking for a place to donate, give, gift money or get a tax break. I know I am. My house, the royal castle that I have deemed "the money pit," will suck me dry if I'm not careful. I could put my money into these walls, but charitable donations go beyond looking for ways to get a tax break and mean more to me. These donations should come from the heart of the giver. At the very least, it should come from the sympathy one feels for others that are either less fortunate or just down during their time of need.
The number of celebrities with charities is endless. Everyone has a cause. But how many of them actually can relate to the cause they represent? That's the better question.
If you've got to give your money to someone, it is best that you do your due diligence to know what they stand for, and where the money is going. And how it's being spent.
As I work closely with Sir Ron Carter, the legendary bassist, I have the honor of sitting on his board, Finding The Right Notes Foundation. With the endless paper work, rules and laws that are involved in creating a foundation, it's no easy walk in the park. It takes commitment, passion, dedication, and lots of time to help one person, let alone thousands of people.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me reintroduce you to 50 Cent, or as professionally known to the business world, Curtis James Jackson.
His music has topped the charts for over a decade. It still moves the crowd, without color boundaries. It doesn't see race, creed or sex. Mr. Jackson also exudes sex appeal. He has a presence that commands attention and recognition.
His music and sex aside, let's talk about his business savvy brilliance. Yes, I said brilliance. Let's take the story as far back as to the streets, and even further than that, the days of his young manhood--his mother, grand parents, drugs, death, murder and rise to world recognition.
If you speed it up, take it back a couple of years, and remember the deal he made with Viteman Water that landed him one of the major business endorsements in his career you'll also remember how that would open up doors for more.
He later went into sports, then to movie production (Get Rich Or Die Trying), and eventually to a cable television special starring Omari Hardwick in Starz Original Series-Power.
His G-Unit clothing line did fairly well, but more importantly, it contributed to branding him as a business mogul. I wouldn't hesitate to take one of my business proposals to him--it seems everything he touches turns platinum.
Now he partnership with one of retail's biggest family-owned department stores, Century 21 with Eddie Gindi. With his band Men In My Head, he has created the album, Century Of Love, dedicated to raising money for Tuesday Children, which supports the families and child survivors of 9/11.
Did we say brilliant?
Talk about an empire. Century 21 has grown from one store in Bayridge, Brooklyn, to having two locations in Manhattan, a store in Long Island, a new one now in Philadelphia and I am sure will expand to across the country.
But what on this good earth would these two gentlemen have in common that would bring them together? I can name a few. For one, their childhood histories and humble beginnings. Then there's the music, and music that has no color line. Artists come together, whether you like a particular genre of music or not, and it inspires you to do what you do and to support those doing it.
At the end of the day we live in a capitalist society that makes a living off of the pain and suffering of others. But during the process of life, some stop and look back and choose to do something about it that will shape the world in which they live in. The struggles of one's life will cause a shift in life's paradigm and your own mortality comes into question. You wake and look at all you have personally accomplished and you either are proud, satisfied or want to give back. Or all the above.
Are these men perfect? I strongly doubt it. But what I will say in this world of selfies, selfishness, and egos is this: If a wealthy, successful person stops to think about helping others less fortunate, then darn it... It's a start and worth talking about.
You will always have the haters, the complainers, and the wanna-be's. That's life. But we should recognize those who succeed and give back.
As I did my research on Curtis Jackson, an interview from February 2012 was shared with me. I was excited to see that a major news media finally captured, a "black man" with a sketchy past make efforts to give back to society his community. But as I read the article, I could not help but see the shanks and hear the low blow comments made about his efforts. It was insulting.
This quote, for example. "As we flew into Somalia with the rapper, it became clear that this was, in essence, a mogul's midlife crisis."
This was after comparing him to Bono & Angelina Jolie. Or my personal favorite, referring to him as the "hip hop Bono." Really?
I love Bono and always have for what he has done and continues to do for mankind. He brings social issues to light through song. But why can't that be the same desire that 50 Cent has projected through the media?
I personally see his efforts as more of a connection for "redemption" for whatever past deeds or inner torment he may face. Or maybe he may just be able to relate to those suffering, through the deaths, murders that he personally may have experienced. But I do not feel in any way that this is a sort of midlife crisis for the still young rapper.
As the executive director of Tuesdays Children kindly puts it, the "9/11 tragedy will take a lifetime to overcome for some, but the goal is to provide the support and help need for when the cry for help comes to those in need." For some it's time, counsel, resources and for others it's music and art.
I know for me, after surviving the tragedy of 9/11, my life has never been the same. I live every day knowing how much a helping hand means.
So whatever your weapon of choice maybe, just pick it up and help another human being during this holiday season. I promise I'll never refer to your good deeds as a midlife crisis.
This truly is the Century of Love! Happy Giving!