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Why Drake's "God's Plan" video is so culturally relevant

It doesn't matter that the rapper filmed himself giving away a million dollars. What matters is that he did.

There's been a conversation revolving around Drake's recently released music video for "God's Plan", currently the #1 song on the charts.

It opens up with a very simple statement: "The budget for this video was $996,631.90. We gave it all away. Don't tell the label." What follows is shots of the people of Miami (particularly around Overtown), as Drake comes into a Sabor Tropical supermarket to tell everyone that their purchase today will be free - he's got it covered.


There's a mother and her son sitting by the boardwalk - the rapper comes by to hand them a wad of cash that, ultimately, changed their entire life in one moment. Drake hands a scholarship check made out to Miami High School, surprises fans unknowingly standing within feet of their favorite rapper, treats an entire department store full of women to whatever they want.

Some say it's self-serving. Some say it's fabricated. Chances are, they're not from Miami. As someone who is, it cannot be overstated the importance of this music video - it just so happens to be one of the greatest cultural documents of the city and it's people, which is always depicted as a sunny beach on mainstream media but in reality faces some very real and harsh poverty and wealth inequality. In fact, Bloomberg reported that Miami has the greatest gap between the rich and the poor than any other metropolis city in the U.S. You don't know just how life-changing it can be to have someone (no matter their name) come up to you and hand you a great big wad of cash if you're not from Miami.

In a time where political divide is so great and optimism so small, it matters that Drake gave away the entirety of this music video's budget. Not only is it incredibly transparent about how much money goes into these big-scale productions, but it goes to show just how many lives can be changed with "just" a million dollars. Let's be real - to Drake, this is chump change. To so many families, this is food, transportation, an education and a roof over their head. The value of that is bigger than you or me. It's not only a charity effort, but a political statement.

Like the Atlantic points out, civil rights icon and musician Harry Belafonte stated in 2012: "one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists … [who] have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyoncé, for example." Jay-Z's response? "This is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity. Just who I am. Just like Obama's is." For rappers who have, to quote Drake himself, started from the bottom, the climb to the top is meant to inspire change, to inspire dreamers that all is possible.


While "God's Plan" is making ripples in the entertainment industry, here's hoping that the conversation will inspire more and more celebrities to give away the excess in their bank account. We can only see the good in that.

Vanessa is a music and culture writer. Follow her on twitter.

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