AIME intends on changing the world through the simple act of mentorship.
In today's day and age, many tend to talk about "change" as an abstract concept. Though people seem eager to issue snap judgments, lamenting on the state of current affairs, it can feel difficult to take action. For one, the path is not always clear, especially in the social media era. How often do you hear cynical predictions for the future? Yet AIME, a global mentorship initiative now hitting the US, has decided to tackle the conundrum head-on. To "make caring cool," in CEO and Founder Jack Manning Bancroft's own words. After all, the youth are nothing if not impressionable. With access to Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube immediately post-womb, children are at once informed on cultural events and disassociated from the more tangible realities. Mentorship can bridge the gap, in real life as it has in hip-hop.
You've no doubt heard of the "OG," an acronym for Original Gangster. The connotations surrounding an OG suggest a sense of wisdom and knowledge. The young up-and-comers are expected to respect the OG, and learn from his or her own life experiences. It occurs time and time again. Migos have come to respect the likes of Top Dawg and Coach K; in turn, the Quality Control moguls have laid the foundation to make the trio millionaires. Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock may have their own relationships with one another, but one thing they all share is respect for Top Dawg. What would Eminem be without the guidance of Dr. Dre? One listen to "I Need A Doctor" says it all.
Consider Kevin "Coach K" Lee & Pierre "Pee" Thomas, the founders of Quality Control records, home to Migos, Lil Yachty, Lil Baby, and more. Recently named Billboard's Hip-Hop executives of the year, the Atlanta entrepreneurs gained respect through relatability and a drive to hustle. After starting the record company in 2013, both men sought to follow in the footsteps of Master P's "No Limits" records; now, they're sitting at the head of an empire. Speaking with the New Yorker, Coach K laughs about his iconic beard, and the powers it seemingly bestows. "With this gray beard, I’m a O.G,” he says. “When I say something, they listen—like, ‘Oh, the O.G. must have been through it.'" In the same discussion, Pee reflects on hip-hop being an alternative to escaping "the streets," an environment he understands all too well. Yet Pee's first-hand street credibility likely helped him gain the respect of young hustlers like Lil Baby and the Migos.
Anthony Tiffith, also known as Top Dawg is another mogul who has come to embody mentor status. His record label, the aptly named Top Dawg Entertainment, is home to Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, SZA, Reason, Isiah Rashad, and more. Like Pee, Top Dawg's history was uniquely tied to the streets; it seems evident that young people are likely to relate to those who have lived through their circumstances first hand. Case in point, Top's universal respect from his roster, many of which hail from the streets of Los Angeles. Yet he's not merely a record mogul to his artists, but a mentor. Kendrick Lamar closed his last studio album, DAMN, with a reflection on Top's saga, and how his journey ultimately went on to alter lives in a butterfly-effect-esque manner. Plus, his experiences allowed him to grow, and bestow his wisdom on those under his wing.
Speaking with Billboard, Top reflected on his motivation behind founding TDE. "Growing up in the era of the gangsta shit, a lot of my friends were getting killed, a lot of friends were in the pen, I got shot," he explains. "When I got with the [TDE artists], it was up to me to show them something different -- to lock them in my studio and make them build a bond as brothers, and struggle a little bit."
Unlike Top, Coach K, and Pee, who largely operate behind the scenes, Dr. Dre has occasionally taken a hands-on approach. A legendary artist in his own right, Dre has continuously played a mentorship role for artists on the come up. As it happens, two of those artists were none other than Eminem and The Game. Em's admiration for Dre is well documented, and after the Good Doctor signed Slim to Aftermath in the late nineties, their relationship proceeded to evolve. Dre's importance to Eminem runs deep, as evidenced by the emotional single "I Need A Doctor," which dropped in 2011.
"All I know is, you came to me when I was at my lowest," raps Em, "You picked me up, breathed new life in me, I owe my life to you." The lyrics speak volumes, as Em's emotion grows. "It was you who believed in me when everyone was tellin' you, don't sign me, everyone at the fuckin' label, let's tell the truth! You risked your career for me, I know it as well as you, Nobody wanted to fuck with the white boy, Dre, I’m cryin' in this booth." Considering Eminem's journey started in a Detroit trailer park, and Dre's on the streets of Compton, perhaps it's no surprise they ultimately connected as kindred spirits. Simply put, there may very well be no Em without Dre's guidance, which goes well beyond friendship; who do you think taught Eminem how to mix a record?
In hip-hop, action speaks louder than words. Young rappers gravitate toward those who have lived it, who take measurable actions to better themselves and those around them. In that regard, AIME has followed suit, vowing to imbue the young people of today with a mentor's good sense. The only way to do that is to take aspiring mentors from their comfort zone and give them enough experience to claim authenticity. With that in mind, AIME has launched the "Hooded Scholar" campaign, flying two hundred aspiring mentors to Australia, in order to partake in the first-ever Festival of AIME Mentoring; there, they will deal with indigenous communities that have been apart of the AIME movement. Upon experiencing the festival, each student will return home to help instill a positive change into young, disadvantaged children.
With AIME's latest initiative set to reach over twenty-thousand kids, perhaps we can start believing that mentorship is the answer. Learn more about AIME and how to get involved by visiting their website; US College students can apply to become a Hooded Scholar right here.