President Barack Obama will be America’s 44th, but hip-hop’s second president. Hip-hop's first president was Ronald Reagan, whose war on the poor and significant cutbacks in public school art programs incubated the times that fed the narrative of the second generation of b-boys and b-girls. The change in subject matter and attitudes will almost certainly hit Hip-Hop Inc. in the pockets, and getting rich on rap music won’t be as easy as it once was. But then, college degrees will be hotter than street cred anyways, so it will all come out in the wash, huh?
Rap music tends to be the thermometer of the poor and disenfranchised. Many suspect that the poor will go largely ignored, but I’m sure you will hear from them. I imagine that when Obama starts messing up, unlike the tankster journalists, rappers will be among the first to call him on the carpet. Obama will inspire unprecedented pride or unrelenting cynicism in the hip-hop community. But no matter what, hip-hop loves him because his is such a hip-hop story: the biracial son of a single mother who, despite his missteps with dope and early life as a knucklehead, straightened up to take hold of his destiny. Obama’s administration is almost certain to spark a new era of Black Pride and politics that will impact rap music and the culture as a whole. Young black men will be forced to reconsider each other and our role in the community, and while I doubt rapper Lil Wayne will do a remix of “If I Had a Hammer,” rapping about killing and shooting each other won’t be sexy as it used to be. His is the American Dream, and that’s all hip-hop has ever been about.
Single Father, Author, Screenwriter, Award-Winning Journalist, NPR Moderator, Lecturer and College Professor. Habitual Line-Stepper