2008's Biggest Stories #2: Hip-Hop Artists Rally Around Obama
Barack Obamas landmark 2008 presidential run not only galvanized the
nation, but ignited a renewed sense of political awareness and music
from Hip-Hop artists.
noticeable trend began slowly at the end of 2007 through artists such
as Common and Talib Kweli, both of whom publicly supported Barack
Obamas then perceived long shot bid to become the first
African-American president of the United States.
fresh, you know, hes got a good style, Common explained to CNN. The
Chicago emcee was one of the first artists to mention Obama in a
Hip-Hop song courtesy of Jadakiss 2005 Why (Remix). As far as people
in my age group and people that love Hip-Hop, theres a love for Obama.
He represents progress. He represents what Hip-Hop is about. Hip-Hop is
about progress, the struggle.
Talib Kweli added on that Obamas appeal can be traced to his youth and multicultural roots.
youth, his being black, the way that he speaks, they way that he lays
out his point of view, Kweli detailed. Its someone who looks more
like you. I dont mean black, but I mean the young thing. And his name
is Barack Obama. This country has become more and more multicultural.
of Obamas first public displays of support for Hip-Hop came courtesy
of Chinese rapper Jins tribute song Open Letter to Obama. The
president elect offered the track as a free ringtone on his website
and used it as an introduction song before several speeches.
of Hip-Hops influence among young people, Obama praised the culture
and publicly met with its biggest stars while still offering
constructive criticism on their materialism and misogynist themes.
met with Jay-Z; Ive met with Kanye. And Ive talked to other artists
about how potentially to bridge that gap, Obama stated to BET earlier
this year. I think the potential for them to deliver a message of
extraordinary power that gets people thinking [is huge]. There are
times, even on artists Ive named, the artists I love, that there is a
message thats sometimes degrading to women, uses the N-word a little
too frequently. But also something that Im concerned about is
[they re] always talking about material things about how I can get
something; more money, more cars.
these concerns and the potential political fallout, Obama made sure his
campaign kept a strong presence in the Hip-Hop world throughout 2008.
His campaign allowed Nas to sample his voice for the triumphant track
Black President, off the lyricists controversial but critically
acclaimed Untitled album. Mogul Jay-Z constantly referenced his support for Obama at many concerts and on his first Blueprint 3
single Jockin Jay-Z. Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy recently did the
same with the video for his black-nationalism ode My President Is
relationship with Hip-Hop was occasionally tense, as the senator over
the summer had to condemn a tribute song from one of his favorite
emcees, Ludacris. In the celebratory song Politics: Obama Is Here,
Ludacris referred to President Bush as mentally handicapped, and
Hillary Clinton as a b*tch, prompting Obama to state while Ludacris
is a talented individual he should be ashamed on these lyrics.
Even with that setback, Obamas campaign still reached out to Hip-Hop just days before the November 4thelection.
In a nationwide conference call to DJs and radio personalities,
Democractic strategist/CNN correspondent Donna Brazile and Bad Boy CEO
Sean Diddy Combs urged a final push before the election.
as DJs you hold a powerful voice as representatives of the people,
Brazile stressed. You all hold more power in your words than any
politician simply because you have more credibility being in these
Combs added a somber note to put the campaign in perspective.
our forefathers can get killed fighting for us during the Civil Rights
Movement and dragged to jail, the least we can do is stand in line for
a few hours, Combs stated. We do more just to get tickets to a Mary
J. or Jay-Z concert.
remains to be seen if Hip-Hops high political consciousness will
continue into 2009 and subsequent years while Obama is in office.
According to Common, the change Obama promised will not just affect politics, but Hip-Hop culture as a whole.
think Hip-Hop artists will have no choice but to talk about different
things and more positive things, Common predicted earlier this week.
Try to being a brighter side to that because, even before Barack, I
think people had been tired of hearing the same thing.
President-elect Barack Obama will be sworn into office on January 20, 2009.