Obama Fooled the Hip-Hop Community

Barack Obama (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
Barack Obama (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Erik Nielson, writing at the Huffington Post, says that President Obama deceived many who supported him during his first presidential campaign, including hip-hop artists. He says that Obama's policies haven’t helped the minorities who elected him to office.

There was something remarkable about seeing rappers pledge their support to a mainstream presidential candidate, especially given the history of antipathy between national politicians and hip hop. And, of course, there was something equally remarkable about watching a future president embrace hip hop culture. Indeed, whereas politicians on both sides of the aisle had made a political tradition out of demonizing hip hop, Obama was shoulder brushing and fist bumping during campaign events, making appearances with a number of rappers, and even suggesting that hip hop would have a place and a voice in the White House. There were some early voices of skepticism — Rosa Clemente, insisting that Obama should not be considered a "hip hop president," argued forcefully that the president was merely using the movement to get himself into office. But voices of dissent like Clemente's were easily drowned out by the well-known rappers who assured us Barack was our man. In his 2008 "Open Letter to Barack Obama," for example, Talib Kweli said, "this man deserves our support." Nas vouched for Obama, too, saying, "I'm thinking I can trust this brother" on his track "Black President."

By now, it's obvious that this trust was badly misplaced and that Obama's hip-hop-infused campaign of 2008 was a slick marketing hustle that a lot of artists fell for. As I have written before, Obama beat a hasty retreat from hip hop right after 2008 — a trajectory that Michelle Obama appears to be following even now if her recent disparaging remarks about ballers and rappers are any indication. But what's more disappointing is the number of ways that Obama has betrayed the hip hop community through his policy decisions.


Read Eric Nielson's entire piece at the Huffington Post.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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