New Orleans rapper Dee-1, whose music video about repaying his student loans went viral this year, is partnering with consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to help students make smart financial decisions about college and their careers.
“We want to be innovative … and that’s why we brought in Dee-1,” PwC’s chief purpose officer Shannon Schuyler explained Wednesday at the Washington Ideas Forum, an event hosted by the Aspen Institute and Atlantic magazine. “When we saw him out there talking to students, we knew that being able to combine the authenticity and the message that he brings, with the trainings we provide students, could be a game changer.”
Dee-1 gained acclaim for the video for “Sallie Mae Back,” a song detailing his journey toward repaying his student loans. The rapper, whose given name is David Augustine Jr., graduated from Louisiana State University in 2009. After graduation, Dee-1 landed a job as a middle school math teacher in Baton Rouge, but left after two years to pursue his passion for music.
Leaving his job put a strain on Dee-1’s cash flow. He scraped by on his savings while making a name for himself as an artist. When RCA offered him a record deal in 2014, the rapper used the advance to close out the debt, after months of only being able to afford the minimum payments.
On Wednesday, Dee-1 said he has heard from countless people on social media about their trials repaying student loans. He said the partnership with PwC made sense because he and the company had similar goals.
“When we finally connected, I was like: ‘Wait, you have a desire to educate people about financial literacy, specifically minorities. I have that same desire. Can we do this together?’ We can, and now we’re doing it,” Dee-1 said.
In recent weeks, the rapper has visited Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, and is heading out across the country to talk to other students about navigating higher-education costs and making sound financial decisions. He said he’s been advising students to know what they want out of college before entering, familiarize themselves with the financial resources available and have a plan for repaying debt if they borrow.
“I’m a young black man, with dreadlocks, from New Orleans, who is a rapper. When I walk into these classrooms with black and brown students and they look at me, they’re like, ‘Wait, that dude is one of us,’ before I even open my mouth,” he said. “My voice is authentic to them, my life experience is authentic to them, so when I hit them with the knowledge, the financial literacy piece, they’re all ears.”
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