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December 16, 2008


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Dan Tres Omi

Its funny because i got into an argument with someone about this. I said hip hop culture really had diddly squat to do with this election. I asked said person to give me ONe example other than the Ludacris so called freestyle. They couldn't

Mind you I am a long standing member of the Universal Zulu Nation and at age 35 I still b-boy. But you are right, culturally we are just not holding it down.

Michael A. Gonzales

When you say "hip-hop" in this post, you really mean "rap music." But, if you think of hip-hop culture as the countless street artists (including the ever dope Ray Noland)behind the Barack images as well as the many bloggers, journalists and the b-boys/girls at the polls on Nov. 4th, then I'd say hip-hop did represent.

Just because the music is lost, doesn't mean that hip-hop is too.

jelani c.

Michael, I hear you on that. Technically I would be evidence against my own argument as I consider myself hip hop and I was knee-deep in that campaign as were plenty of similar folk I knew. I think I'm particularly frustrated by the music in the way we can be frustrated with a friend who we love but who is doing the same ish that we once thought was fun but now see as pathetically immature.

Anonymous Frustrated Lawyer

Lol @ you guys not mentioning Will.I.Am (he was a hologram on CNN for Chrissakes) or the kajillions of Obama inspired mixtapes and punchlines in the past year.

Face it, you're not qualified to speak on hip hop anymore.

jelani c.

I'm not interested in debating qualifications but let's talk about the thin evidence of what you suggest is hip hop influence. Um... somehow I don't think that looking like a character being beamed onto the starship enterprise counts as hip hop influencing the election.

will.i.am. had a tremendous influence on the election with that video (note the only other rapper involved was common) but by and large the culture, the music and the most prominent spokespersons for hip hop were a footnote in the storyline of 2008 and Obama.

as for the mixtapes and punchlines, that's exactly the point isn't it? a music that shapes perspectives on the united states globally, one that accounts for well over a billion dollars in combined revenue and the most you can point to is some mixtapes and punchlines in the face of the most historic development since Brown v. Board of Education? Please.


Hip-hop isn't irrelevant. As you noted, it's practically as mainstream as Springsteen. What's changed is that the ethos of hip-hop is no longer insurgent. Hip-hop is straight business. Like most kids who are radical in their youth, hip-hop has grown up to be comfortable and conservative.


I remember once I was asked to write an article 'will rap last?' I didn't think too highly of my boss after that because who didn't know that rap would last forever?!

Now I see it for what all popular music is. It becomes very popular, associated with youth, until it becomes old and the latest youth generation invents some new crap. The circle of music.

I could be wrong, but I don't understand what you mean by relevance. How relevant is any type of music to an election?
All music really does is act as a short hand for what type of music/age/values even that a candidate holds.

My fave moment of hip hop relevance?
Obama had me when he brushed off his first shoulder. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZJex9Ge2-Q)

Dan Tres Omi


I think that was Jelani's point. While there were a few references to some mainstream hip hop music single, that was really it. No real impact.

While I forgot to point out in my previous comment that on the third party levels, many indie artists did come out and speak for several of the third party candidates but the momentum was definitely on the dems side.

Oneita Jackson

Jelani, my man...

I am absolutely love love loving the blog. Congratulations!

I just turned 40, and you have to tell me this: What was the allure of going to an Ice Cube concert? Were you doing research?

I'm in Detroit, and I considered, just for a split second, about going to that Jay-Z show, but then decided, "Naaaaaa." It's not my thing, EPMD.

jelani c.

In terms of relevance, I was talking about hip hop's role in shaping opinion about the election. You heard chatter "Common endorsed Obama... Nas did a song... Jeezy registered to vote..." but it simply did not cohere into a serious force.

Arguably Puffy's "Vote or Die" campaign was more politically impactful on the 04 election than any single hip hop related event during '08. Considering the stakes and the historic nature of this election it forces me to consider that hip hop simply doesn't have the kind of view-shaping power it once held.

I do not think it is irrelevant in the broad sense -- it remains a viable form of commercial music and contains all kinds of complex and contradictory tendencies. But most of them have little to do with Barack Obama or his election.

Oneita: btw, I went to the Cube concert because I have an often uncontrollable tendency toward nostalgia. And as we know, the quickest cure for nostalgia is to return to the actual person/place/thing that we were feeling sentimental about. Which more or less explains that concert.


If you ask me Hip Hop is going through its Hair Metal stage. I am waiting for Hip Hops equivalent of Nirvana and Pearl Jam to emerge.


LOL...all this time I thought Jeezy was saying "My President is black/ My landlord too"

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