The HBCU School of Music campaign and Mars provided production and mentorship experiences to HBCU students and featured an intimate performance by GRAMMY-nominated artist Cordae.

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 18, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Rock The Bells, the global platform dedicated to elevating Hip-Hop culture from its roots to the modern day, announced a new initiative as part of a tiered partnership with M&M’S®, proudly part of Mars. The collaboration introduced Rock The Bells’ HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) School of Music Campaign to celebrate and honor the impact of HBCU culture on the development of Hip-Hop.  

Rock The Bells is committed to championing HBCUs and providing opportunities to spotlight the incredible talent within their campuses. Preserving and celebrating the legacies of these institutions with deep connections to several Hip-Hop icons through content, commerce, and experiences speaks to the company’s mission and values of education being the foundation for progress.

“HBCUs have been instrumental in the growth of Hip-Hop culture, and it’s important that we create opportunities that will allow these institutions to continue pushing the culture forward,” said Ann Akinnuoye, Head of Partner Relations, Brand Partnerships. “The shared values between Rock The Bells, M&M’S, and Hip-Hop – purpose, inclusivity, entertainment, and connection – are undeniable, and we’re proud to be working with them to bring this hands-on experience to the students.”

M&M’S partnered with Rock The Bells to support a number of initiatives during the 50th anniversary year of Hip-Hop, including the sold-out Rock The Bells Festival on August 5, 2023, where attendees had the chance to interact with a mock subway car and station with M&M’S, the official candy of the Festival through Rock The Bells’ partnership with Mars. The brands also developed the content piece ‘Artist on the Rise.’ The ‘Artist on the Rise’ series put a spotlight on Jai’len Josey, an artist who has made strides in her community. Together, the brands identified Jai’len as a change agent, with the docu-style content highlighting the importance of authenticity, human connection, and the impact of music on culture.

“Like our iconic M&M’S brand, music sparks excitement, memories, and fun – it brings people together,” said Gabrielle Wesley, CMO at Mars Wrigley North America. “I’ve had the privilege of meeting LL COOL J and know that he’s an undeniable part of Hip-Hop culture. We’re thrilled to be partnering with him and Rock The Bells to help further the impact of HBCU culture on the development of Hip-Hop.”

During the Fall 2023 semester, Rock The Bells and M&M’S selected four HBCU students – Zeke and JJ Siegel, Clark Atlanta University; Michael Randolph, Tennessee State University; Khaylah Jones, Fisk University – for a unique opportunity to produce an intimate performance from GRAMMY-nominated Hip-Hop artist Cordae at The National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, TN. Their roles included developing the creative, photography, and content capturing during the experience, which is documented and live on Rock The Bells’ YouTube channel. In addition to gaining production experience, the students received mentorship from acclaimed photographer and creative, Tayo JR, and were surprised with a meet and greet with Cordae, where they had the opportunity to hear directly from the artist on insights from the industry.

“HBCUs are important because they create safe places for us to thrive. We have to support OUR OWN,” said Cordae. “It’s extremely important that we continue to breathe and shine light on each other, for each other. These educational institutions are a key component in securing a prosperous future for us as black people, and especially our youth.”

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About Rock The Bells
Rock The Bells is the preeminent voice for timeless Hip-Hop. Founded in 2018 by LL COOL J and Geoff Yang, Rock The Bells focuses on content, commerce and experiences that honor the CULTURE and the core elements of Hip-Hop — MCing, DJing, Breaking, Graffiti — and more. Rock The Bells is the bridge between OG’s and those inspired by their groundbreaking influences on the culture. Visit us at, stream LL COOL J’s Rock The Bells Radio on SiriusXM Channel 43, and follow us on Instagram @RockTheBells.

About Mars, Incorporated
Mars, Incorporated is driven by the belief that the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today. As a global, family-owned business, Mars is transforming, innovating, and evolving to make a positive impact on the world.

Across our diverse and expanding portfolio of quality confectionery, food, and pet care products and services, we employ 140,000+ dedicated Associates. With almost $45 billion in annual sales, we produce some of the world’s best-loved brands including Ben’s Original™, CESAR®, Cocoavia®, DOVE®, EXTRA®, KIND®, M&M’S®, SNICKERS®, PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, and WHISKAS®. We are creating a better world for pets through our global network of pet hospitals and diagnostic services – including AniCura, BANFIELD™, BLUEPEARL™, Linnaeus and VCA™ – using cutting edge technology to develop breakthrough programs in genetic health screening and DNA testing. For more information about Mars, please visit Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. 

SOURCE Rock The Bells

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