Former President Barack Obama is definitely one of the most popular and influential figures of this generation. It’s been four years since the Obama administration has left office, and his presence has been missed in the White House, but he’s continued to push forward in efforts to invoke change. The former President is now making headlines for comments he’s made concerning Hip-Hop and its influence.
The country has been in the midst of an intense divide as election season heightened emotions of people of all races, sex, gender, etc. Politicians running for office have been known to pander to certain communities in order to secure their votes. This practice was not lost in the current election as both parties have participated in the activity.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was called out while campaigning for comments that she made on different media outlets claiming that her favorite rapper was the late Tupac Shakur. Notably, during this year’s NAACP virtual convention, CNN commentator Angela Rye asked her the question about her favorite rapper, to which she named the “Dear Mama” rapper. “He’s not alive,” Rye responds in an attempt to correct her. “You said, ‘He lives on.’” The Vice President-elect responds, “But not alive… I know, I keep doing that.”
Kamala Harris asked, who’s the best rapper alive?— Emily Larsen (@emilyelarsen) September 25, 2020
She answers @2PAC
Then says “Not alive, I know, I keep doing that.”
Tries to think of another living rapper. “There’s some I would not mention right now because they should stay in their lane.” pic.twitter.com/MZJ5FZC4qP
“There’s some I would not mention right now because they should stay in their lane,” she continued, before asking Rye to “keep moving” with the questions.
Throughout the election, other rappers came forward in public support of Donald Trump. “Gucci Gang” rapper Lil’ Pump appeared at a Trump rally in his hometown of Miami, donning a MAGA hat, to proclaim his support (having done so many times already on social media before) while being introduced mistakenly by Trump as “Lil Pimp”. Trump also referred to the rapper as “one of the superstars of the world” as he invited him to the podium to say a few words to his supporters.
Rapper Lil Wayne, undoubtedly one of the “superstars of the world”, also shared his love and support for Trump on social media days before the November 3rd election. “Just had a great meeting with @realdonaldtrump @potus,” the caption read amidst a picture with the rapper standing next to Trump in front of American flags. “[B]esides what he’s done so far with criminal reform, the platinum plan is going to give the community real ownership. He listened to what we had to say today and assured he will and can get it done.”
Just had a great meeting with @realdonaldtrump @potus besides what he’s done so far with criminal reform, the platinum plan is going to give the community real ownership. He listened to what we had to say today and assured he will and can get it done. 🤙🏾 pic.twitter.com/Q9c5k1yMWf— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) October 29, 2020
Both joined other rappers such as Kanye West, BlocBoy JB, Fivio Foreign, and others (including 50 Cent who seemingly tweeted support in a trolling move before retracting his statement) who have all received immense backlash via social media and beyond. Among those who have criticized these rappers is President Obama.
Obama recently had an extensive interview with The Atlantic to promote his new book A Promised Land. During the interview, he commented on the increase in support of Black men that support Donald Trump, attributing it to materialism in rap music. A lover of Hip-Hop himself, he notes the content that some of the artists brings to the music.
“People are writing about the fact that Trump increased his support among Black men [in the 2020 presidential election], and the occasional rapper who supported Trump,” he said. “I have to remind myself that if you listen to rap music, it’s all about the bling, the women, the money.”
He continued, “A lot of rap videos are using the same measures of what it means to be successful as Donald Trump is. Everything is gold-plated. That insinuates itself and seeps into the culture… America has always had a caste system — rich and poor, not just racially but economically — but it wasn’t in your face most of the time when I was growing up. Then you start seeing Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, that sense that either you’ve got it or you’re a loser. And Donald Trump epitomizes that cultural movement that is deeply ingrained now in American culture.”
Throughout his presidency Obama has shared yearly summer playlists inspired by his wide music taste, which also includes a number of Hip-Hop songs and artists, old and current. Adding to his playlist game, Obama shared a new Promised Land inspired playlist that reminded him of his time as president.
In a statement accompanying the playlist, he writes, “Music has always played an important role throughout my life — and that was especially true during my presidency. While reviewing my notes ahead of debates, I’d listen to Jay-Z’s ‘My 1st Song’ or Frank Sinatra’s ‘Luck Be a Lady.’
“Throughout our time in the White House, Michelle and I invited artists like Stevie Wonder and Gloria Estefan to conduct afternoon workshops with young people before performing an evening show in the East Room,” he continued. “And there were all sorts of performances I’ll always remember — like Beyoncé performing ‘At Last’ for our first dance at our inauguration or Paul McCarthy serenading Michelle in the East Room with, ‘Michelle.’”