Although it seems heaven-sent … [by Alicia]
I’ve wanted to write about all the recent Obama hip-hop – I consider myself the official Buntology rap expert – but apparently I waited too long, because there are already a ton of articles out about that. So I’ll just tell you my five favorite joints – and why you should download them.
I knew B was hip-hop since the primaries, when he alluded to a Jay-Z song in a rally after a debate with Hillary. Maureen Dowd, a New York Times columnist, wrote at the time:
It had to be the first time in history that a presidential candidate had a hip-hop moment.
Barack Obama, who says he listens to Jay-Z along with his “old school guy” favorites like Earth, Wind & Fire and the Temptations, alluded to the rapper’s 2003 hit “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” on Thursday to sweep away concerns about his pugnacity.
After conceding that the Philly debate was tough, he brushed the imaginary lint of Hillary, George and Charlie from his shoulders, in a wordless reference to Jay-Z’s lyrics in his anthem about not letting anyone crimp your ride as you cruise from the bottom to the top: “Got some, dirt on my shoulder, could you brush it off for me?”
There’s no doubt the cat is cool.
I had the image of B brushin’ that dirt off his shoulder as my desktop wallpaper for months. I still have it hanging up at my desk at my day job.
We know what rap Obama is familiar with – but now that the race is done and won, what effect will he have on hip-hop? Check out these beats to see what a fly black man in the top office might mean to the rap scene.
Most of these links are to those crappy homemade YouTube music videos. Nonetheless, I strongly urge listening to all these songs. You really can’t get a feel for them by reading lyrics – you gotta hear Nas or Jin spit em.
1. “My President is Black” remix. The original is by Young Jeezy and Nas, and it’s very cool, but the best rapper alive himself, Jay-Z, puts his own spin on it. You can totally feel the pride and the passion in J’s rhymes. Even though the lyrics are somewhat elementary, the emotion you can 100% hear in Hov’s voice make it a powerful rap. “My president is black; in fact, he’s half white. So even in a racist’s mind he’s half right.” Oh, fo sho, Hov.
2. “Rap-up ’08.” Skillz puts out a rap-up once a year, and this one is worth listening to even without the glowing Obama reference. He lauds rappers and celebs that made moves in 2008, makes predictions for ’09, and disses the dissworthy. The best part? “And Palin? I ain’t gon’ discuss it. She prolly on her porch right now, tryin’ to look at Russia.”
3. “Black President.” I’m not gonna be stifled here: This joint by Nas makes me tear up almost every time I hear it. It’s one part praise, one part plea, and the refrain is Tupac: “Although it seems heaven-sent, we ain’t ready to have a black president.” Nas pontificates on Obama’s dedication: “We in need of a break, I’m thinkin I can TRUST this brotha – but will he keep it way real? Every innocent nigga in jail, gets out on appeal? When he wins, will he really care still?”
4. “Open Letter to Obama.” Jin’s jam came out when Obama’s campaign first started, so I’m kind of late on this one, but this song is perhaps the most genuine: Jin not only dropped beats, he dropped cash on Obama’s campaign. And his rhymes are pretty damn good.
5. “It’s a New Day. ” OK, this uberhopeful jam by will.i.am. isn’t rap, so much, but he deserves props for this vid, released shortly after the election. If it doesn’t make your heart swell, get outta my face.
I’ve been searching desperately for this song I heard once on the (satellite, natch) radio. It was most definitely Snoop, and it was all about Obama and Martin Luther King. It had kind of a slow beat. But I only heard it once, and my stupid Sirius just told me it was Crazy Toca Tuesdays with Tony Touch!!!!
There are a few other Obama rap songs that have come out, legitimately, within the past couple weeks, but I’m having a hard time nailing them down. Will post them as they become available.
Obama doesn’t – or didn’t – embrace everything about hip-hop. At least not during the campaign. “I love the art of hip-hop; I don’t always love the message of hip-hop,” Obama told BET earlier this year. “There are times where even … with the artists I love, you know, there’s a message that is not only sometimes degrading to women; not only uses the n-word a little too frequently; but — also something I’m really concerned about — it’s always talking about material things.”
But now that the dust is settling and every rapper is dropping ‘Bama-inspired beats, I’d like to think our president is just a little bit pleased he’s the subject of so much cool (and hopeful) music. I know I’d be elated if Jay-Z started spittin’ rhymes about how he thinks I can change the world. I mean, if Hova believes in him, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad can’t be far behind.