Like the majority of people in America last night experiencing that combined feeling of joy and relief as the final results in the presidential election became clear, I was really moved when Barack Obama finally got to give his acceptance speech. Not only was it an incredibly inspiring and intelligent speech, but it was also just pitch perfect, like a great symphony or the best pop song. The rhythm of his oration style, especially as he built up to the finale, systematically interspersing in his talk those three words (Yes We Can) right on rhythm, was purely musical in its delivery.
Watching and listening to Barack in Chicago last night all I could think of (besides "Thank God the Republicans are finally out") was, Wow! This speech is not just historic but it is so made for matching over beats that we are going to be hearing this particular Obama speech replayed and sampled over hip-hop instrumentals for a long long time to come. Like JFK and MLK before him, Obama's equally great oratory style is made for playing back over beats. Already he has been sampled to death in hip-hop songs, but now that he is finally elected to the top position this first hip-hop generation president will be an integral part of the genre for quite sometime to come.
While relatively young for such a high ranking job, 47 year old Barack Obama is not actually the youngest elected president of the United States of America (both Ulysses Grant & Bill Clinton were a year younger, while JFK was just 43 years old and Theodore Roosevelt was only 42 when elected to presidency), but he is the first bona fide elected US president of the hip-hop generation. In fact, he is even younger than many contemporary hip-hop figures, including Grandmaster Flash who, at age 50, is three years Barack's senior.
As the first president of the hip-hop generation, Obama's presence in hip-hop music (something that started even well before the primaries) will only snowball from here on through the man's term (terms?) as president. This Amoeblogger will attempt to keep tabs over the coming months & years on what new Obama themed hip-hop songs get recorded and are available at Amoeba. But for this particular Amoeblog entry, let's look back at some of the Obama themed songs recorded to date. Note that this list only scratches the surface, since there are just way too many to do a comprehensive listing here. Right up to yesterday, when Q-Tip with J-Period leaked online their unofficial release, "Q-Tip for President," freestyle, Obama themed hip-hop recordings have been surfacing at a steady rate.
In the months leading up to this election it seemed near every hip-hop album either name checked Obama or sampled one of his speeches. Murs for President was themed after the presidential election. DJ Z-Trip, who was in Denver during the DNC in addition to performing a series of Obama themed shows in California with Shepard Fairy, has been for many months now layering tons of Obama speech samples over beats, being one of the earliest DJs/producers to fully appreciate their beat matching potential. If you haven't already heard it, check out Z-Trip's great Party For Change: The Obama Mix 2008, available for download here. Also at the DNC as an official participant was singer John Legend -- technically RnB, but with appeal to the so-called "hip-hop generation" -- with his pro-Obama song "If You're Out There." This song is avail for free download on the official Obama site. Here is a video link to song and artist discussing it.
"Black President" by NaS, off his recent untitled album on Def Jam, is in my opinion one of the best Obama songs because, with its Tupac sample acting as hook, it doesn't hit you over the head with preachy opinionated lyrics, but rather it has a more subjective and balanced presentation of the views put forth by the Queensbridge emcee. An even better known (perhaps the best known) Obama anthem is "Yes We Can Obama Song" by will.i.am (and many other guests + Obama speech samples on which it is based) which has gotten --to date -- close to 6 million YouTube hits. Scroll down to see/hear it. Also below is the video for the not as popular but catchier song "Ignite The People (like Obama)" by 6th Sense, a white rapper who makes note of his color with the line about "a white rapper endorse a black president" on this memorable song that is anchored with a great hand-clapping, head-bobbing beat (scroll down to see video).
"Open Letter To Obama" by emcee Jin (video below) was actually written and recorded last year while (also below) "Letter To Obama" by Joel Ortiz and featuring Dante Hawkins is similar in title to the previous song by Jin but this one is more of a general list of grievances about growing up in the gritty hood that are directed at the "future president" that is Barack. "Dear Obama" is the very recent recording by Mekka Don who takes the beats and melody of 2Pac's "Dear Mama" and flips the hook into "Dear Obama." Luckily for many rappers, both the words Barack and Obama rhyme nicely with a lot of other words, like drama or mama. It is only a matter of time before a reworking of LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out" will become something like "Obama Did Knock You Out, McCain."
Other Obama songs have included Common's "The People," the Jay Z & Mary J. Blige song "You're All Welcome" (featuring the line "It's Ms. No More Drama and Barack Obama of rhymers/Feel honored.") Then there is the song "Black Republicans" which is, in fact, pro-Democrat/pro-Obama by Juelz Santana & Lil Wayne (aka Lil Weezy). Meanwhile ATL rapper Young Jeezy, who a year ago stirred up some controversy based on a Vibe interview in which he gave props to John McCain, who he had met once, switched up positions and made a video statement backtracking saying: "I represent the Democratic party...I've never been nor do I ever plan to be a John McCain supporter...I support Barack Obama." Not surprisingly, on his latest album The Recession, Young Jeezy has the song "My President" that features NaS (hear below).
And then when you go beyond hip-hop into music from other genres you'll find even more Obama songs. For instance, there have already been a slew of reggae and Caribbean Obama songs like "Barack Obama" by reggae artist Cocoa Tea and "Barack the Magnificent" by Trinidad legend The Mighty Sparrow (hear below).
And as I said earlier, we can expect to be inundated with Obama songs for quite a while to come. This is only the beginning of Generation Barack Hip-Hop.
6th Sense "Ignite The People (Like Obama)"
Nas "Black President"
will i am + others "yes we can Obama song"
Jin "Open Letter To Obama"
Joel Ortiz feat. Dante Hawkins "Letter To Obama"
Young Jeezy feat. Nas "My President"
The MIghty Sparrow "Barack The Magnificent"