From a classic hip hop record to the sampled backdrop of a diss track, the term Paid in Full has evolved from a musical masterpiece to a vital institution dedicated to caring for hip-hop legends, literally ‘paying dues’. As we wrap up the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop there’s a side often overshadowed by the glitz and glamour—a side that reveals financial disparities and healthcare challenges faced by the genre’s pioneers – now there’s a foundation looking to bridge the gap. The Paid in Full Foundation stands out as a catalyst for change, with legendary rapper Nasir “Nas” Jones at its helm.
Stories of triumph over adversity and the climb from poverty to prosperity echo through hip hop Some success stories transcend even the loftiest aspirations of the culture, paving the way for emerging artists to rise from humble beginnings and cultivating a unique cultural identity. Yet, amid the luxury and triumph, the pioneers who established the foundation for this cultural heavyweight often remain overlooked in terms of financial recognition. who has been at the forefront of the commemorative celebrations, has taken a step beyond festivities, recognizing a structural gap that needs addressing.
The Paid In Full Foundation, announced by Nas and his partners, including executive Steve Stoute, venture capital co-founder Ben Horowitz, and Felicia Horowitz, seeks to rectify the historical oversight. The foundation aims to provide financial support and healthcare resources to the forefathers and mothers of hip-hop, acknowledging their pivotal contributions to arts and culture.
The foundation’s mission is encapsulated in a statement on its website: ” Many of the most impactful original artists never received recognition proportional with their exceptional contributions to arts and culture. The Paid in Full Foundation aims to rectify that through its grantmaking program, by both honoring the people who built hip-hop and enabling them to pursue their creative and intellectual pursuits for the benefit of society.”
In collaboration with the Horowitzs and Stoute, Nas has introduced the first annual Grandmaster Awards, a platform designed to celebrate those who laid the foundations for hip-hop but did not receive commensurate financial rewards. Stoute revealed the intent behind the awards, stating, “We are honoring those who have led the culture but have not received the financial rewards that’s on par with their cultural contribution.”
The inaugural recipients of the Grandmaster Award are iconic figures in hip-hop: “the God MC,” Rakim, and Houston’s own Scarface. These two artists defined movements during their respective eras, leaving an indelible mark on the genre. The award show, set to take place in Las Vegas on November 17th, will contribute 100% of its net proceeds to the foundation’s mission. Both Rakim and Scarface will also receive grants from the foundation, marking a significant step towards recognizing and rectifying the financial disparities faced by hip-hop pioneers.
The Horowitzs, who have a history of supporting hip-hop initiatives, have backed Nas in this venture. Ben Horowitz, an early investor in Genius (formerly Rap Genius), and his wife, Felicia, are bringing their influence to bridge the financial gap in the hip-hop community.
The Paid In Full Foundation’s launch comes at a crucial time in the wake of several losses in the hip-hop community, where pillars like Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest, and Biz Markie have succumbed to health-related issues. The foundation not only addresses financial disparities but also aims to provide healthcare solutions, offering a comprehensive approach to support the well-being of hip-hop pioneers.