Jay-Z and the U.N. – “Water for Life” to reduce child mortality

First and foremost, most people do not realize that Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter earned a U.N.A. Global Leadership award for his collaboration with the United Nations to help reduce child mortality rates as outlined in 
U.N. Millenium Development Goal #4 titled Child Health.

Clip: Jay-Z’s award acceptance at the 50th Annual Global Leadership Gala


Below, I posted hyperlinks to the only existing video clips (that I could find) for “Water for Life” as it aired on MTV in fall of 2006.  If you click each link (1-3), a short advertisement may air before beginning the clip.  If you would like, you can watch clip 1 and then wait as the rest of the videos load & play in order (without having to click each link individually).

Jay-Z’s Eyes Wide Open documentary clip 1

Jay-Z’s Eyes Wide Open documentary clip 2

Jay-Z’s Eyes Wide Open documentary clip 3

Clip 3 shows viewers one solution to the water crisis with the help of Play Pumps International

Leveraging a simple way children play is a great solution for getting clean water to remote locations where conventional water systems are not an option.  Putting the weight of Jay-Z’s celebrity status behind them, the U.N. and PlayPumps International does a great job raising awareness of a crisis that most in the developed world take for granted; access to clean water…

I was speechless the first time I saw this.  The fact that safe, clean water is inaccessible to so many people around the world is shocking the first time you really get exposed to it because most people take their own access to clean water (tap, bottled, etc) for granted…(for instance, when is the last time you really thought about where your water is coming from and what’s in it?)…Secondly, just as shocking as the issue is, the seemingly simple solution of Mary-Go-Round style PlayPumps is a refreshing take on what appears to be an impossible problem to tackle.  Something so simple really makes you say “duh” when you put two & two together.  You have children, children love playing, the community does not have access to clean water, water pumps exist, reservoir tanks exist, and water cleansing tablets exist. So…..why not put it all together (use what you have/be resourceful) and create a community toy that allows the children to play while they are accessing fresh water from below.  It is such an easy solution to a large scale problem!  True innovation if you ask me.  Talk about “KISS” – Keep It Simple Stupid.  Just solve the problem; if you think about it long enough, you will eventually come up with a solution. 

Those readers who know me well, know that I am a big fan of Jay-Z’s art and have followed his career for many years as I worked my way through the American Cultural Studies program at the University of St. Thomas.  Studying Jay-Z as a cultural icon has really been a fascinating journey and allowed me the chance to write several papers about his influence on pop culture (and now on global issues such as “Water for Life”).  The man is a lyrical genius if you really sit and listen to his words (haha, as well as a prudent entrepreneur), and it is great to see that he is using his celebrity to make people stop and think about global issues.

Three fitting Jay-Z lyrics:

“…[*they] say that I’m foolish I only talk about jewels (bling bling)/do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it?/See, I’m influenced by the ghetto you ruined/That same dude you gave nothin, I made somethin’ doin/What I do through and through and/I give you the news – with a twist – it’s just his ghetto point-of-view/the renegade, you been afraid/I penetrate pop culture, bring ’em a lot closer to the block where they…”  

“…since I know what I’m up against/We as rappers must decide what’s most important/And I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them/so I got rich and gave back, to me that’s the win-win/So next time you see the homey and his rims spin/Just know my mind is workin just like them…/…like the rims, that is”  

“I don’t know what you take me as/Or understand the intelligence that Jay-Z has/I’m from rags-to-riches [*people] I ain’t dumb…”

~ by Adam Maikkula on February 25, 2009.

3 Responses to “Jay-Z and the U.N. – “Water for Life” to reduce child mortality”

  1. […] View my other blog post videos of Jay-Z’s collaboration with the U.N. to fight the global wate… […]

  2. […] written before on Jay-Z’s partnership with Water For Life and the UN to raise awareness of the world’s water crisis, but after seeing a video from the World Food […]

  3. […] written before on Jay-Z’s partnership with Water For Life and the UN to raise awareness of the world’s water crisis, but after seeing a video from the World Food […]

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