Get Out the Vote
So how does one of the most important figures in the world of hip-hop get kids to accomplish this goal? First, he put in a few calls to some famous friends. Among the artists who jumped on board were Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Eminem, Nelly, P. Diddy, Ludacris, Kanye West, Will Smith, Nick Cannon, and LL Cool J.
Next, Simmons planned a series of Get Out the Vote (GOTV) concerts for youth at hip-hop summits, or meetings, in cities across the country. Admission was freesort of. To get in to see the show, fans had to register to vote.
Since the first concert in 2003, GOTV has been bringing in the big numbers. In St. Louis, Missouri, nearly 9,000 young people showed up on the day of the concert to register and rock with Simmons.
"We're proud of the artists who donated their time and energy," said Simmons, "and we're very proud of the thousands of youth who responded in such record-setting numbers to register to vote."
GOTV Bus Tours have been on the road since October 1, visiting 26 cities in 10 states. They will continue right up until Election Day on November 2.
Simmons said the tours are designed to remind people of the Freedom Rides of the 1960s, when young people fought to defend their voting rights. Rallies are held wherever the buses stop, complete with DJs and town-hall meetings.
One of the perks of catching up with a GOTV bus is the complimentary CD, Wake Up Everybody. The CD was produced to get young people excited about voting. Musicians on the CD include Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliot, Brandy, Jamie Foxx, Ashanti, Omarion (B2K), and Wyclef John. The CD also comes with a full length DVD and includes performances from many other artists.
Hip-Hop Summit Action Network
According to Simmons, hip-hop culture is not just about the music. "Hip-hop is about giving back to the community," he said.
According to census numbers, only 36 percent of people ages 18-24 voted in the last presidential election. Simmons wants to see these numbers grow.
"This is the best generation the world has ever seen," said Simmons. "What they will see in November is that this is the most powerful generation the world has ever seen."
Check out the Web site for the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network to vote in an online poll.
Find out if the GOTV Bus Tour will be stopping in a city near you:
October 28Cleveland, OH
October 31Philadelphia, PA
November 1Miami/West Palm, FL