Hip Hop Goes Political

Photo: Jerritt Clark  Photo: The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network

(photo: Russell (Jerritt Clark)|Dawn (Respectmyvote.com)|TI (The Hip-Hop Summitt Action Network)

          Our Vote: RESPECTED...

“It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.
Yes we can.”

Will.I.AM “Yes We Can”

Rather you know these lyrics from being one of the 13,847,499 Youtube viewers, or you’ve heard it on your local radio station, during this election season, this very song fused speeches of President Elect Barack Obama with music, artists, and undoubtedly entertainers…and you thought this is BIG!

I’ll never forget. I had signed up to receive emails from the candidates running for the office of President of the United States, and when the email from Michelle Obama came in, from their web site, speaking about the Will.I.AM, video I knew hop hop was going to be a major force used to help “Change” the American dream. When you start hearing things like Sean Combs changes his persona into Ciroc Obama, DJ Drama now goes by Barack Odrama, you hear more people playing songs with lines in it like “My President is black, My Lambo blue…”, or when you’ve heard Lil’ Wayne’s “A Milli” remade into a song coining the word “Obama”, you can’t help but to admit Hip Hop has again made it’s mark in the history books.

“President Barack Obama’s victory marks the birth of change…the birth of pride, progression, and inspiration. This is validation of the timeless cliche that anything is possible. Celebration is in order as we welcome a new America!”

 -Willie The Kid

Never before have so many rap artists spoken out at an awards show about a presidential election process. This was the case at the 2008 BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta, GA. Never had so many college campuses made sure that each and every student knew of their American right to vote, but never has the process felt so close to home for Black America. The hip hop nation got our first taste of the political road when Diddy pushed his Vote or Die Campaign in 2004, but lots of people were scared the hip hop vote would be forever lost after the tragic results which lead to four more years of status quo in the White House.

“Words can’t describe how significant this moment in history is for us as a community, a people and a country.  With all that I’ve been through in my life, I feel that God has blessed me to be a part of the new direction our nation is headed in, as well as my kids.  I just wish my grandmother was still here to have seen the day that a black man would be in the White House.”

-Shawty Lo

Like most people my mother was addicted to CNN, and even she had to take note to it not being strange for CNN to have hip hop artist on the network, but at least once a week in the last swing of the election you saw several hip hop oriented artists throughout the day. The nation wanted to hear their thoughts on the political story unfolding before them and the country. 2009 will show the world how much hip hop and politics go hand in hand. It instantly will not be strange to hear the Obama name mentioned in many songs at clubs, parties, and on radio stations all over the world. Familiar words like “Vote or Die”, “Rock the Vote”, and Respect my Vote” were used in full swing, and it’s no coincidence that hip hoppers are at the forefront of these very movements. Hip hop became more than a voice; it became a reliable and respected opinion that others outside the genre wanted and needed to hear.

With this election having the biggest turn out in recent decades, it looks like hip hop and politics will be courting more and more as time goes on. Russell Simmons said it best…

“The vision of the hip-hop generation and its young people is in full and glorious effect tonight. While many older Americans, who marched and struggled so hard so Senator Obama could run for president of the United States never dared to believe in his candidacy’s real potential, young people, particularly the hip-hop community, had faith and their imagination became our reality.

The election of Barack Obama, a resounding progressive voice, is a clear reflection of hip-hop politics. It is a reflection of the 35 million people who downloaded Ekhard Tolle’s “The New Earth,” and all of the other popular books espousing this new, emerging consciousness. Promoting love, compassion and generosity over fear, anger and greed; promoting lasting peace through dialogue and opportunity will be more economic to the American people in these troubled times than the promotion of war. Obama”s election as president is a beautiful testament to the American collective consciousness that is flowering. This more loving consciousness will be necessary to protect us from some of our hurtful human choices and tendencies. We will need it to create balance with the constantly emerging advances in technology so, going forward, we can use these advances in a positive way to lift up Mother Earth and all her inhabitants.
I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that today, I feel like America has dodged a bullet. Let’s support this beautiful leader to do the work necessary to promote and execute on the change agenda we all voted for. Let’s each do our part to insure that this is a transformative time in America, where our country can be a leader in creating a positive and lasting change in the world.”
-Russell Simmons

This is a proud time for hip hop! We have superseded the distant visions and stereotypes of a gang, drug, and death driven movement. This election has further proven to the entire nation that hip hop is a focus driven entity; one with distinct and precise goals. Just as with our 44th President, Barack Obama, through hip hop, Black America too can do anything we put our minds to. 

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