Did Hip hop do what they though it did in the election of our 44th President Elect Barack Obama?
As much of an influence as Hip Hop had on this election can equally be summed up to say it did not have an influence on this election. People have said it and are continuing to say it; this election was different, it was special, it was one of a kind. When I started to talk about this topic to first time voters and college age individuals I just knew in my head hey these young people were going be all hyped because so many [hip hop] artists were on the political band wagon this election season. I can say, I was really surprised to hear some of the responses I received. I spoke with a group of young men ranging from 18-35 Black and Latino from across the nation. I asked the young men if hip hop artists and/or the movement had anything to do with them voting and/or wanting to vote. I also asked if they were swayed to vote for one candidate because of endorsements.
All of them said NO, they voted for their candidate of choice because they actually felt like he was the better of the candidates they had to choose from. If anything, one young man responded by saying that “the hip hop community played the race card too hard”.
This made my mind jump to the lines we know and say, and will soon see all over BET (& hopefully MTV & VH1…ok I’m pushing!), “My president is a black, my lambo’s blue…”. One young man who’s Latino said, “the overall the presence of hip hop this election was great to see”. He was impressed to see so many rappers active in the process. He also said he was NOT looking to them on which way to vote. One thing all of them agreed on was that the younger generation, the next in line, will definitely be more affected by Hip Hop in the Community of Politics than they are currently.
A special interview I did was with young man who did not vote at all, and didn’t have anything stopping him from doing so. When we spoke, I asked him if there was anyone in the entertainment industry that could have swayed him to vote. He responded, “politics is just not my thing, but maybe later in life it will be”. Now, I had to take a personal moment and remember I am not here to help raise someone else’s child, but to interview him…so, I did not, at least not while the interview went on. I wanted truthful and from the heart answers. Within us talking, I found out that politics was never talked about in his house growing up. Now, yes, Hip Hop may have played a role in getting our current President-Elect elected, but for those who were swayed to either register or to actually get out and vote by the Hip Hop community, nothing is greater than the Hip Hop mediums which we hear everyday…that’s what really played a major role.
While working in South Carolina I had the opportunity to interview the “crunkest” DJ in Florence, SC…DJ Buddah Rat. He himself registered to vote at an event I helped plan with a local leader. He spoke about how “trap boys” don’t care about politics because it does not bother their money. In the interview, we also spoke about how many people did NOT know about the ex-Felon clause. In Georgia, like many other places, if you have served time and no longer on probation (on papers) then you have your constitutional right to vote. This piece of information above all things changed the lives of some many Black and Latino men that the hip hop community was trying to reach. So much to the point, I was surprised by a phone call from him at the radio station where I was put on air during his prime time to speak on this very topic. What I learned from this new Hip Hop nation is that they have their own minds, and YES they do pay attention. They may not showcase (on their shoulders and sometimes “sagging” pants) how much they know, but they still live by the quote “ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.”