Rappers to Talk Money at Hip-Hop Summit

Drawing on some high-wattage star power, the Hip-Hop Summit (search) rolls into town on Saturday, with the city's famed rappers helping spread a message about financial empowerment.

Hometown rappers Nelly (search), Chingy (search) and J-Kwon will join music and fashion mogul Russell Simmons and financial experts for the event.

They'll talk to young people about basic banking, credit scores, car and home ownership, asset management and entrepreneurship.

The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network began in 2001 as a nonprofit coalition of artists and leaders who believed hip-hop music and culture could serve as an influential agent for social change.

The network addresses quality of life issues, from improved public education to reform of the criminal justice system. Last year, summits were held around the nation, including St. Louis, to encourage young people to register and vote.

This year's program is called "Get Your Money Right."

"We learned a lot of young people were ruining their credit by age 20," said Benjamin Chavis, president and chief executive of the hip-hop network and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The summit aims to teach people ages 18 to 35 money lessons, how to plan now to reach future financial goals.

"The artists themselves talk to young people about their own financial journey toward empowerment," Chavis said.

Many of the hip-hop stars speak about making smart financial decisions when they received their first big checks. Rapper Eminem talked to fans about his first investing decisions, noted Gerrod Parchmon, a management associate in business strategy for Chrysler Financial.

A few of the stars have been frank, too, about mistakes, spending too much when they were first flush with cash. "Sometimes the school of hard knocks can be some of the best training," Parchmon said.

Parchmon has been a speaker at three summit panels so far, and will speak in St. Louis. Once the initial euphoria from fans dies down, he thinks the audience pays attention and learns.

He's seen young people taking notes, and parents applauding when something resonates with them as smart advice for their children to hear.

The main messages, Parchmon said, are to establish where you're currently at financially, understand the importance of a budget and set where you want to be in the long term.

Summit attendees also get a take-home book with financial information.

Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler Financial, which provides brand-specific financing for automotive dealers, is a sponsor of the financial empowerment tour. St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch is also a sponsor.

The Get Your Money Right tour began May 14 in Detroit. The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis has some tickets available by calling 314-615-3600.