Rapper and media mogul Jay-Z has joined the ranks of entertainment stars speaking up on environment, health, or development issues. Last week at the UN he shared stories from his recent trip to sub-Saharan Africa, where he focused his attention on the dire water and sanitation situation. MTV will air a 30 minute documentary on his trip Nov. 24th.

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It is easy to be cynical and say he sees the good free press other entertainers have garnered for similar humanitarian efforts. But it takes all types to tackle these huge problems. If helping him sell some more records (and he apparently needs the help, as the new album is getting panned) is the cost of alerting new audiences to the plight of the 1.1 billion without access to clean water and 2.6 billion without access to adequate sanitation, then pump up the volume.

And it is refreshing that Jay-Z has chosen one of the less photogenic environmental and health issues — water and sanitation gets such a low “cute and cuddly” score compared to other charity choices.

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