Recently Barack Obama was asked which music he had listened to at the moment, and he answered Jay-Z’s new album. Aside the fact that a presidential hopeful spends his time listening to a rapper pay homage to the biggest Harlem drug lord in history, this got me to wonder if we could actually get the first president in history, that actually likes hip-hop. While this remains to be seen, it seems that hip-hop will play an increasingly bigger part in the (Democratic) campaign, so I decided to give you an overview.
In time Sven Auken, Søren Pind and the rest of the gang will drop political science about the actual issues that are, to quote deadprez, bigger than hip-hop, but consider this a prequel to all that hoopla.
Of course music which references the American president predates the first rap records, but I’m sure no genre has had references as many as hip-hop. A major factor in this is of course the fact that presidents are featured on American dollar bills and coins, which has made for many a smart remark about ‘dead presidents’. Contrary to popular belief in Denmark Benjamin Franklin, though a founding father, was never president, so “All about the Benjamins” doesn’t count. However, numerous raps are also directly about the actual person with a view of Pennsylvania Avenue at the time. So for your reading pleasure here’s a time-line of what previous presidents have thought about rap, and what rappers have thought about them:
So there you have more than 80 tie-ins between the American presidents and hip-hop. Very few rappers actually seem to aspire for presidency except for Will Smith and to a lesser extent Jay-Z. However, plenty of them are quick to point the finger at the HNIC of the White House. Incidentally there haven’t been a lot of mentions of presidential candidates prior to the elections, but that has obviously changed with Barack Obama, who’ll no doubt be every rappers favorite topic for months to come.
As mentioned in the intro, I’m sure there’ll be plenty more in the months to come, although I doubt hip-hop will be as much of a factor as it would if George Bush could somehow run again. To read a much more educated view of the election, head here. And don’t forget to put your own favorite quotes in the comments, thanks in advance.
Also, QD3 legendary music producer, son of Quincy Jones and creator of the hip-hop “Beef” dvd series, has made a short documentary about the topic this blog also covers. View it below: