Tina forwarded a USA Today article that manages to be simultaneously informative and surreal. The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network has begun its seven-city tour to “teach young minorities how to handle their financial lives”.

Bun B, who started duo UGK in 1987 with his friend Pimp C (before Pimp C went to jail and was later released), is part of a nationwide tour of hip-hop recording artists who are using their fame to draw young African-American and Hispanic fans to hear tales of the financial mistakes they’ve made and the lessons they’ve learned.

Between swapping stories about blowing money, the artists gave financial advice to a packed auditorium at Texas Southern University last weekend. Despite the difference in tone and sometimes language, their advice was what you’d get from Merrill Lynch. Just more colorful.

“I took my homeboys to the club, buyin’ bottles, got the rims — you know what I mean,” said Slim Thug, 26, a Houston rapper whose prized possessions include a $460,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom. “Then I couldn’t be paying the rent! Homeboys can’t help you now.”

They’ve learned, they say, some indispensable lessons.

Some of the advice given:

  • From LeToya Luckett, a former member of Destiny’s Child: “Pay your tithe to whomever it may be to. Don’t worry about what that preacher’s going to do with that money. Is he gonna buy a new helicopter or a new car? Don’t worry about that. Get off your butt and do what God sent you here to do.”
  • Television personality Free: “Keep your interest rates as low as possible. If you’re paying 18% or 25%, they’ve got you.”
  • Solange Knowles, Beyoncé’s younger sister: “Write down what you really spend. I didn’t know what I really spent. But now I’m a new mother, so I set up a college fund for my son. When I get a check, it’s not about shopping or going out to dinner…I’ve got priorities!”
  • Chingo Bling, a Mexican-American rapper from Houston: “I spent money to impress other people, like buying rims and things like that. You can indulge some, but I invested in myself, too, in my record label, in my brand. At the end of the day, I want to still be standing, to still be in business.”
  • Singer Monica: “My mistake was I used [credit cards] and it felt like I was getting a gift. It had no sense of reality. You should really have only one, and it’s probably best not to keep it in your wallet. But don’t do what I did: Remember the numbers and the little SID number on the back, so you could charge anyway!”
  • Palestinian-born Candadian rapper Belly: “When I got my first check, I threw it away, on clothes and shoes and jewelry — crazy, material things. Once I did that, I thought: I’ll never do that again. It’s not about making money. It’s about keeping money.
  • Rapper Slim Thug: “I got a big house, 7,000 square feet, and I be driving around town in the big trucks and you know, all that. And I had to wake up and say: What are you doing? What you need this big house for? I gotta check mysef on this. I got two kids and I can’t rap forever. You not be buying my CDs when I’m 40, you know what I mean? When you do get your bread, you gotta keep your bread, you know what I mean?

Although I’m too old to comprehend the world of hip-hop, I appreciate the work these people are doing. It’s important to teach sound personal finance to young adults. If this works, I’m all for it. I think it benefits the community each time another person learns how to manage her money.

In between tales of financial success and failure from the hip-hop artists, pros from Chrysler Financial, the corporate partner in the Hip-Hop Summit, slip in little lessons about finances, such as the definition of net worth, the difference between a stock and a bond and the value of a 401(k) plan.


At the summit, Chavis called on the artists one by one, but every now and then, he told the audience to “turn to page 8″ in their workbook or to a chart on another page to see how long it takes to pay off a high-interest-rate credit card. The crowd obeyed.

Chingo Bling, 27, a Mexican-American rapper from Houston who’s known as the “ghetto cowboy,” said he thinks young people can learn from what he described as “not mistakes, but lessons.” One of them: “You can’t learn about money until you’ve lost money.”

If only there had been a New Wave Summit Action Network when I was young! I would have taken advice from A Flock of Seagulls or Duran Duran. Do you think Boy George could have taught my generation about the proper use of credit?

[USA Today: Need advice on finances? Ask a hip-hop artist]

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