Earlier this year, Jay-Z told a British interviewer that once, when he called President Obama during his daily workout, “The Blueprint” was playing in the background. He continued to share that the President “loves Hip Hop,” and that he had been invited to the White House as a guest numerous times.
This wasn’t the first time I’d read about President Obama liking or listening to Hip Hop and not the first time I heard about Jay-Z being on a regular on the Presidential iPod rotation. But every time statements about President Obama’s musical tastes make the news, especially his affinity for Hip Hop, I can’t help but to appreciate our President a little more – not only because we enjoy the same music, but because he’s not afraid to admit it.
In fact, I think more politicians should listen to Hip Hop and if they already do, they shouldn’t be afraid to say it out loud. I’m actually convinced that if we had more Hip Hop touting politicians, our world would be a much better place, and here’s why…
Despite the constant scrutiny Hip Hop receives from so-called conservatives and liberals alike, there’s an authenticity in this music that has carried the message of frustrated, inner-city youth in the Bronx, NY to politically active young adults across the Gaza Strip to Cuban youth who use it to talk about the social issues affecting their communities, to young adults in Burma using it to protest censorship.
Hip Hop has always been the language of marginalized people who feel they’ve been forgotten, pushed to the side, and excluded from the main circles of influence, power, and politics. And since their voices have been omitted from the conversations taking place within inner circles of power, Hip Hop helped them start a conversation of their own.
But the difference between the mainstream conversation and the one Hip Hop is having, is that Hip Hop’s is far from exclusive. And because of the inclusive, expressive spirit with which it began, Hip Hop has grown from light-hearted street-corner battles between 20-somethings in New York into a worldwide movement embracing the hearts and minds of young people living on every corner of the world.
In the face of opposition and persistent criticism, international youth are massaging their minds and linking their words with their experiences to tell their stories. In bookstores, in hidden-underground clubs, in makeshift studios in nearly every international city, heads are nodding, eyes are closed and hands are drawing invisible circles in the air as emcees pass the mic, inserting lyrical energy into rooms that has crossed oceans and cultural boundaries for more than 30 years.
Now, I’m not really saying anything new. Everyone knows the political origins of Hip Hop, and if you don’t, check out DaveyD ASAP. And I’m also not saying that all Hip Hop is worth listening to – we all have our individual tastes, and sometimes music is just meant to be fun, and even at times completely mindless entertainment (AHEM). But what I am saying is that we mustn’t forget how powerful this thing we call Hip Hop really is.
Many members of the Global Grind community are memb