There was a time when rappers spoke about politics and activism unabashedly.
Late ’80s staples like Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions were skilled enough to rap about anything, but when they had a chance to use their platform to fight for social justice, they didn’t shy away from the opportunity.
As the business behind rap began to evolve, mainstream artists began to avoid sensitive topics in exchange for more marketability and the endorsement money that follows.
Yet in 2008, we began to see a resurgence of activism in the genre, when the hip-hop community overwhelmingly threw their support behind Barack Obama‘s first presidential campaign.
Rap’s elite were campaigning for the then Democratic nominee, with Jay-Z leading the pack by traveling to swing states to make sure hip-hop’s presence was felt as his association with the candidate was beginning to bloom.
Fast forward four years later and emcees are even more comfortable voicing their support for the Obama administration, with varied results.
Rick Ross has name dropped Obama in his raps for years and through Twitter he’d promised a remix to his motivational single “Hold Me Back” if Obama was re-elected.
Ross recruited an all-star cast of dope boy rappers that included Lil Wayne, Yo Gotti, Gunplay, and French Montana for the track, which makes politically incorrect references to cocaine cooking in the kitchen.
Compton rapper The Game took a more proactive approach to show his support for Obama.
In a recent interview with Fuse, he discussed how he went through the New York area to transport citizens to polling booths, aiding people by filling up gas tanks, and even allegedly gave $20 to 500 New Yorkers so they could find a way to exercise their right to vote. This gesture of good will stands in stark contrast to the persona of a performer who was just recently caught on camera for beating his rival 40 Glocc on camera.
Atlanta’s Young Jeezy was one of the few rappers that were ahead of the political curve when he gave Obama his endorsement through his well-timed single “My President is Black” back in 2008.
Jeezy’s 2012 tribute track “We Done It Again” has the potential to be just as well received as the rapper takes a break from his usual drug talk to spit insightful and positive verses about Obama and what represents to the impoverished black youth all over the country.
With lyrics like, “In 2008 we celebrated history with ‘My President’ is black. In 2012, I want Barack to know we got his back and ‘We Done It Again.’ We don’t wait for history, we claim victory!” it’s clear that hip-hop’s love affair with politics is far from over.
Check out Rick Ross’ and Young Jeezy’s Obama anthems below and let us know what you think.
WARNING STRONG LANGUAGE
Rick Ross – Hold Me Back remix
Young Jeezy – We Done It Again