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President Obama’s farewell address marked ten days until the inauguration of the President Elect and the rapidly changing tide that is upon us. Long before President Obama presided over the nation, the oval office has often been the target of hard hitting lyrics, and was commonly the subject some artists’ greatest dreams for themselves and their communities. However, in 2008 those dreams became a reality, and we as people made a statement by electing our first African American president. Despite the drastic over compensation to the right, now more than ever is a time to reflect on the progressive voices that we have and honor those that use them. With that, we have decided to celebrate the Don Dada Barack Obama and savor his legacy with some of the most memorable hip hop executive orders.

 

Eazy E.jpeg
“The dream of Huey Newton, that’s what I’m livin’ through
The dream of Eric Wright, that’s what I’m givin you
Who walked through the White House without a business suit
Compton hat, jheri curl drippin on Ronald Reagan’s shoes”
 -The Game, Dreams, The Documentary

 

Even with opposing views and heightened racial tension in our country, one subject that knows no color is the socioeconomic struggle of those living at and below the poverty line. In 1991, after making a $2,500 donation toward the Bush campaign in support of his anti censorship stance, Eric “Eazy E” Wright was invited to the White House to attend a lunch banquet with none other than George Bush Sr. For the face of hip hop to be cordially invited to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in an era where censorship was subject to federal scrutiny, is clear proof that in the eyes of government, green trumps all.
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“And the only time we chill is when we kill each other
It takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
And although it seems heaven-sent
We ain’t ready to see a black president”
-2Pac, Changes, Greatest Hits

 

Based on the social circumstances, when Pac said this it was definitely the result of anger and frustration due to the circumstances of his people and their communities. However, in the very same breathe, he was also setting a standard that up until 2008, many never even thought possible. Rather than dismissing an African American president as a pipe dream, 2Pac communicated the injustice and lack of political representation for all African Americans. One person that has made an attempt to preserve his legacy while creating his own is Kendrick Lamar. Aside from his message and rhyme style, K Dot’s presence in the White House during the Obama administration really made 2Pac’s cipher complete.
 Dead President.jpeg
“I keep falling, but never falling six feet deep
I’m out for presidents to represent me (say what?)
I’m out for presidents to represent me (say what?)
I’m out for dead presidents to represent me”
-Nas, The World Is Yours, Illmatic

 

There is no denying God’s Son’s body of work runs deep, but this is undeniably one of the hottest, most well recited lines off Illmatic. So much so that Jay Z famously sampled this Pete Rock produced classic and created the infamous track ‘Dead Presidents’, on Reasonable Doubt . The obsession with greenbacks has long been associated with hip hop, but when you look past the lust for riches, the transition Nas makes in four lines speaks volumes. He literally goes from a hopeful citizen of the republic that is striving to maximize the power of representation, to a voice of frustration that is wiling to settle for cash. This ability to capture every angle of his perspective using the words of his rhymes is something Nas’ continues to do until this day.
 
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“Tell him: “I’m doing fine”. Obama for mankind
We ready for damn change so y’all let the man shine
Stuntin’ on Martin Luther, feeling just like a king
Guess this is what he meant when he said that he had a dream”
-Young Jeezy, My President, The Recession

 

From the standpoint of hip hop, the mention of political successes are few and far between. That is why Jeezy’s ode to the Obama presidency quickly became an anthem. Despite the heavy subject matter throughout the track, tackling everything from Bush’s controversial win in Florida, to the harsh realities of incarceration, The Snowman still keeps the tone overwhelmingly positive. While our current presidential trajectory suggests otherwise, for a short while from 2008 – 2016 we as a nation got to see what judging some one by the content of their character really looked like.

 

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