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9 music stars making the world a better place

By Al Horner, 3 August 2018

Act like a wasteman? That’s not Ace. The 1Xtra DJ vows to live without waste for one whole week in the new No Waste Man documentary, which chronicles his noble efforts and shows how a zero waste lifestyle can help make for a greener planet.

Watch the No Waste Man documentary on iPlayer and listen back to the 1Xtra Talks special, which includes interviews with Ace himself, YouTube activist Sustainably Vegan and Ian Solomon-Kawall, the co-founder of May Project, an organisation that aims to reconnect people with nature for “personal, social and economic transformation”.

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"No packaging, no plastic, no wrappers... the planet is getting more and more polluted and we have to do more," Ace explains in the film, adding his name to a growing list of stars doing their bit for a brighter future.

From Stormzy and Lady Leshurr to transatlantic titans like Rihanna and 1Xtra Live headliner Chance The Rapper, we have a generation full of charitable superstars throwing their weight behind worthy causes.

Here some of 1Xtra’s favourite artists that are committed to making the world a better place.

Stormzy

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"Job done," the mighty Michael Omari (aka Stormzy) tweeted earlier this year after a petition to rebuild trust in local authorities during the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry pushed past 100,000 signatures. It may not have reached its target without the Gang Signs and Prayer MC using his platform to call attention to the cause. The petition resulted in real change too - getting discussed in parliament and leading to an overhaul of the panel investigating the disaster.

Just another day in the life of generous soul Stormz: in May 2017, he donated £9,000 to a student's crowdfunding campaign to study at Harvard, who was presumably as blinded by his grace as we are.

Beyoncé

Beyoncé, in addition to running the world, also runs the Formation Scholars scheme (paying for young American women’s college tuitions), the #BeyGOOD initiative (supporting homeless and impoverished people) and the Chime For Change foundation (implementing health and education programmes for women in developing countries). The star is also estimated to have donated millions to good causes over the course of her career. How about that for some flawless philanthropy?

Skepta

Back in 2016 Skepta paid tributes to his roots, giving back to the community in his father’s hometown by building a playground for local children in Ogun, Nigeria. "Hope we inspire kids to get into activities and maybe find talents they never knew they had," Skeps wrote on Instagram at the time. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Fast-forward to earlier this year and Skepta was made an local chief for his efforts. Boy better know about Skep's generosity.

Rihanna

Rihanna has donated bikes to girls in Malawa to help them get to school and raised over $2m for education services in Sierra Leone, to name just two of her good deeds across her career. Now, that’s some impressive charity work (work, work, work, work, work), RiRi.

M.I.A.

Despite what she may claim on Paper Planes, taking your money isn’t actually all M.I.A. wants to do - she’s also passionate about helping young people affected by violence and poverty. In the past, the star has set up school-building projects, helped rehabilitate ex-child soldiers in Liberia and improved the quality of life for children living with cancer through creative arts programmes. But that wouldn’t be as catchy a lyric, would it?

Chance The Rapper

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Chance The Rapper recently donated $1m to the Chicago school system, adding to his long list of charitable acts in his home city. He’s a vocal campaigner on social media against police brutality and regularly surprises fans by turning up at protest rallies and even city council meetings.

Lady Leshurr

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Artists have become increasingly vocal about mental health issues in recent years, and the rap world has been no different. West Midlands MC Lady Leshurr, for one, has been working with the MIND charity to raise greater awareness for the problems that can affect all of us, writing on Instagram in June: "Anxiety and depression exists. Let's stop shying away from these subjects and help our people… I have a voice and I must use it. This is more than music. This is life." Well said, Leshurr. Very well said.

For support on mental health issues visit the BBC Advice pages.

Big Sean

There’s a water crisis in Flint, Michigan that’s been of grave concern to local residents since 2014. Local boy-done-good Big Sean is putting in the effort to rectify the issue, though. On top of donating $100,000 to provide lead-free, clean water to residents, he also enlisted the Flint Chozen Choir to appear on his latest album in an attempt to shine greater spotlight on the issue. "It’s something that should’ve been prevented and could’ve been prevented," he has said. Big Sean, even bigger heart.

2 Chainz

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After creating a line of dabbing Santa Christmas jumpers that raised nearly $2m for homeless veterans, disabled children and arts education initiatives in 2015, Kanye collaborator and multiple chain-wearer 2 Chainz decided not to stop there. The following year came a new "ugly Christmas sweater" aimed at raising further funds, before the rapper opened a pop-up HIV testing clinic in Atlanta last year too. Tity Boi’s campaign to make the world a better place continues.

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