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Recently I came across the following video from President Obama, at the time a Senator, answering some questions regarding hip-hop, its message, and its potential.
“… honestly, I love the art of hip-hop, I don’t always love the message of hip-hop. There are times where even with the artists I named, the artists I love, there is 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 is always talking about material things. It’s always talking about how I can get something.”
“… I think the potential for them to deliver a message, of extraordinary power, that gets people thinking. The thing about Hip-Hop today is, it’s smart, it’s insightful, and the way that they can communicate a complex message in a very short space, is remarkable. And a lot of these kids are not going to be reading the New York Times, that’s not how they’re getting their information. So the question then is, what’s the content? What’s the message? I understand folks want to be rooted in their community, they want to be down, but what I always say is, you know, hip-hop is not just a mirror of what is, it should also be a reflection of what can be.”
I could not agree more with the second part of President Obama’s comments, and I believe the following pieces are some of what Obama is talking about, hip-hop with the “audacity of hope”, so here is a breakdown of what Obama may have been referring to.
In regards to, “…the potential for them to deliver a message, of extraordinary power, that gets people thinking,” I believe the Free SPM movement is doing exactly that:
In regards to, “the thing about Hip-Hop today is, it’s smart, it’s insightful, and the way they can communicate a complex message in a very short space, is remarkable.” Well said. Here is an excellent example, a collaboration between Immortal Technique, Mos Def, and Eminem:
In regards to, “and a lot of these kids are not going to be reading the New York Times, that’s not how they’re getting their information.” Correct, and if Obama is truly to understand his people, then it is extremely important to understand the message behind the music, and here is a sample from Mumia Abu-Jamal:
And in regards to, “I understand folks want to be rooted in their community, they want to be down, but what I always say is, you know, hip-hop is not just a mirror of what is, it should also be a reflection of what can be.” Exactly! The following is a little of the real thing with Cypress Hill, some hip-hop with a message, the same message that Obama so eloquently advocated in the past. I hope you are listening:
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