The Obamas of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z and Beyoncé
Crunk Feminist Collective blogger Brittney Cooper questions the newfound role of Jay-Z and Beyoncé -- the first family of hip-hop -- as the ultimate depiction of the American family, right alongside the Obamas. She also addresses Jay-Z and the b-word -- and the newly crowned Beyoncé horsefly.
The birth of baby girl Blue Ivy Carter to parents Jay-Z and Beyonce earlier this month has cemented their status as the First Family of Hip Hop. Seriously, they have become the Obamas of the Hip Hop Generation, a comparison that is no less compelling given President Obama’s public admission of Jay-Z fandom, Jay-Z’s claims that the multi-racial fan base of Hip Hop made an Obama presidency possible, Beyonce’s performance at the inaugural ball, and her partnership with Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity campaign.
But within the context of Hip Hop culture itself, this couple represents the possibilities of Hip Hop all grown-up, in love, married, and pushing the “proverbial baby carriage.” In fact, based on age alone, they are the blending of the first generation of Hip Hop, heads Jay’s age who came of age in the 80s, and Hip Hop’s 2nd Generation (the middle children I like to call us), folks’ Bey’s age who came of age in the 90s. Destiny Child’s first album dropped when I was in high school (Holla, if you hear me), and I got put on to Jay when I headed to Howard for college (It’s [still] a hard knock life.) Btw, 1998 was a great year in music. Lauryn, Outkast, Jay, DMX. #ButIdigress.
So the conversations -- both doting and derisive -- that have surrounded the newly nuclear Carter family in the last few weeks offer a pretty interesting gauge for how Hip Hop’s multiple generations of folks are thinking about family, beauty politics, gender issues and the potential of Hip Hop. The ways in which these two perform couplehood and parenthood have become a marker (alongside the Obamas) for both the possibilities and limitations of the traditional family narrative among a generation most known for popularizing the terms “baby-mama” and “baby-daddy.”
Read Brittney Cooper's entire blog entry at Crunk Feminist Collective.