MTV Online News
Mary J. Blige will join Mos Def, Sean "Puffy" Combs, LL Cool J and rap duo Dead Prez to promote Rap the Vote, a campaign to turn out the urban youth vote.
The stars will appear in public service announcements to air on television and radio stations nationwide.
A collaboration between the established Rock the Vote organization and hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, Rap the Vote is engineered to encourage young people to become involved with the political process and exercise their right to vote. The group, whose slogan is "register, vote, represent," also aims to speak out about such issues as police brutality and racial profiling.
The campaign launched at a press conference in New York on Wednesday, and Blige took time out to talk to MTV News' Choose or Lose Street Team about her participation in the project.
"I felt like it was important for me to come and do this," Blige said, "because the children are watching me. I owe something to them, because they've given me something, and I owe it to them to let them know: Please, it's not corny, it's not a joke. This is your life; please vote."
The Rap the Vote campaign's goal is to register more than 850,000 new young voters for this year's election, according to campaign spokesperson Holly Taylor. The ambitious target figure is equal to the total number of voters registered by Rock the Vote during the last two presidential election years.
"[Rap the Vote is] important," Blige said, "because the children don't have any knowledge and they need to see everybody that they see on TV — with the jewelry and the cars and stuff — come and say something more worthy [instead of] just flashing a ring."
— Ronin Ro with additional reporting by Elon Johnson