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By Jessica Lewis

Mo’ money doesn’t always mean mo’ problems if you know how to save your cheddar, a group of hip-hop artists preached at the Hip Hop Summit Action Network last weekend.

Approximately 900 students shivering in fur-hooded coats rushed through the doors and past showcases of Chrysler vehicles (the event’s sponsor) in the Ryerson Theatre. They were there to catch a glimpse of their favourite artists, and to get some unique perspectives on money-saving.

“Apparently there’s someone famous in there,” uttered a student while standing in line.

Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records and CEO of Rush Communications, brought along a panel of eleven guests and rappers to present Get Your Money Right, a money-saving seminar catered for students and young entrepreneurs.

Toronto video director Lil X and rappers Saucrates and Kardinal Offishal were also there to tell tales of spending wisely. Chart-toppers Chris Brown, MC Lyte, Lil Mo and Remy Ma sat along with the Managing Director of Chrysler Financial, Gino Cozza.

“This is what hip hop is all about — enlightening the generation!” said Simmons in front of the massive crowd that spilled outside the theatre.

“You need to have money to fall back on. We need to start investing at an early age, and not just look for big money,” continued Lil X.

Each audience member was equipped with a book of money-saving tips, while whooping and throwing their arms in the air as the speakers gave advice.

Rappers MC Lyte, Lil Mo, and Remy Ma gained huge support as they recounted childhood stories about having to support themselves as women.

“We were brought up thinking we need to find a man,” explained MC Lyte. “But it’s the total opposite. We’re sisters, daughters, mothers, and we learn how to raise our children right.”

The advice kept flowing from personal experiences like paying taxes or talking about home mortgages.

Remy Ma remarked on how she spends $100,000 each month on her home.

They also discussed the differences between being a rich performer and a poorer youth. A comment was made on how one’s pager bill was once $10 a month but now they have to deal with a pager, a cell, and “another cell because of all of those stalkers.”

Saucrates was on a roll, saying “You could be selling bricks of cheese or CDs, but you can see how directly the success grows. You can’t tell us what we can and can’t do because we know how the business works!”

MC Lyte then discussed what convinced her to be on the tour.

“I think this is a great occasion when Russell Simmons and Dr. Ben (president of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network) can put together something just like this. A lot of the time we allow folks to walk around not knowing and it’s our job as hip-hop artists, activists, to get out there and share the knowledge.”

The overall advice that was given didn’t seem like anything that wasn’t basic knowledge or taught in a high school finance class.

It could have been more interesting and it had a lot of creative potential. Instead it failed to offer more relatable examples to the youth amidst their celebrity stories and settled for mediocrity.

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