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Could Obama’s Edge Come From Music, Perhaps Even Gangsta Rap?

How many songs have influenced us in our lives? Remember those times when we listened to a song and from listening and reflecting upon its meaning we knew what we needed to say to that loved one of ours upon our next interaction? Can’t you hear Billy Joel saying,

“Don’t go changing, to try and please me, don’t change the color of your hair…”

Don't try to act as if the song title I Love You Just the Way You Are didn’t become a personal mantra of yours. Then there were those songs that we listened to that made us want to be better people. John Lennon asked us to,

“Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can, No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world... “

I tried real hard to not be materialistic after hearing the lyrics to Imagine. There were even those songs that made us not want to take any crap off of someone. An agitated, irritated 50 Cent rapped in his song Places to Go,

"You mistaken me for somebody that you should be testing,
You should be stressing I'm gonna "frollicking" teach you a lesson,"

No, he didn't actually say "frollicking." Work with me here!

As we got older, many of us transcended the literalness of the lyrics and applied them in general ways (like in EWF’s “That’s the Way of the World”),

“That’s the way of the world. Plant your flower and you grow a pearl
A child is born with a heart of gold, The way of the world makes his heart grow cold.”

I learned that if we weren’t cautious and careful, the world could turn the nicest person into a cold-hearted being. Songs have been poignant enough to make us want to cry, make love, miss family, etc. So, while reflecting on concerns that Tipper Gore had about the impact of rap music upon our society I reflected that our newly elected president, Barack Obama, grew up listening to Michael Jackson bragging about Billie Jean, talking about how Bad he is, and asking us to Remember the Time. He also heard Prince warning about 1999, talking about Sexy Mother "Frollickers," and telling a woman he wanted to be her lover. It would be somewhat comfortable for most of us if we could leave it there, but we can’t. President Barack Obama, arguably the epitome of modern cool was only about 29 when the gangster rap group Niggaz with Attitudes entered the rap scene.

I am curious how many people may have considered that our president, Barack Obama, might very well be a music fan with a wide range of taste. While he has displayed a level of class, grace, and style, in arguably most everything he does, many people may not consider the fact that he may like jazz as well as rock, soul interchangeably with country music, as much as easy listening, classical music as well as hardcore gangster rap. Why would that be? Well, come on, we do have preconceived notions of what we are going to see and hear from people we first meet. Seeing basketball player Allen Iverson and then later discovering him listening to Beethoven would be somewhat surprising to me, if not you. It would also surprise many people to find out that Senator Orin Hatch was an avid Snoop Dogg fan.

Since music has been the background for so many of the moments in our lives, why would it not also be in the foreground as well? It is possible that President Obama, right before he has entered a room for a press conference, say on Sotomayor, or perhaps his Health Care press conference that was punctuated by the Gates-Crowley question, may have just finished listening to a certain type of music that might surprise us, while explaining some other things. I can imagine President Obama listening to Tupac’s Secretz of War before he enters the press conference anticipating resistance, if not outright partisanship. The lines

“You either ride with us, or collide with us, it’s as simple as that for me and my “Negroes,”

Though Negroes is not the street term he actually used, if Obama were listening to this song before he entered a press conference he might not be inspired to be as tolerant as we imagine he would be. Also, the “me and my Negroes” would have to be massaged in his mind to reflect his “staff,” “constituency” or “crew.”

Wasn’t it Rep. Michelle Bachmann who once said that Obama is running a “gangster government?” Did she mean “gangster” as in Mafia, Costa Nostra, or Family. Or did she mean gangster as in gangsta, as in the thug life that Tupac, Ice Tea, Dr. Dre, Snoop and other urban youth popularized. These rappers not only joined soul singers and black rhythm and blues artists in articulating black struggle and pain, but consistent with the Malcolm X inspired “by any means necessary,” they started to talk about actions that they could take when being disrespected. Would Obama have any reason to turn to rap music for consolation. Well, let’s see. We’ve had presidents become recluses, turn to outside relationships, probably hide behind medications etc. Why is it hard to imagine that our newly elected president, who has been challenged about his birth, called a socialist, a muslim, etc. hasn’t gotten fed up and silently adapted an anthem or two to have as his theme music before he has to engage an often dysfunctional populace, as stated by Gangstarr in their rap hit, Battle,

"You don't even know, the half about me-I bring it straight to your chest, ask your staff about me, I'm just a little bit older, plus a whole lot wiser, I might advise ya, or I might pulverize ya-
I can visit any city, get respect in the street-While you alone in your room, shook to death of the streets … "

I have thought of the way I teach philosophy as somewhat outside of the paradigm of its tradition, though consistent with the method used by William James, Cornel West, and Michael Eric Dyson in making it more attractive and accessible to mainstream society. Because of my racial and cultural uniqueness within the discipline, dual appointment as administrator and lecturer, director, if not primary architect of the university’s diversity initiative, etc. my reality often potentially has me outside the margins of the discipline. When people have been outside the margins of their discipline they have garnered monikers or labels like “patriot” or “freedom fighter” when seen as valued to the hegemony or agents of change, and “terrorist” or riotous,” “outlaw” or “gangster” when seen as a threat to the prevailing morality. So while it may sound as if this is preposterous, don’t dismiss it too quickly, especially when you consider how much music has motivated you in the past.

Kill Yourself by Timbaland may represent exactly what I am talking about,

“It’s life and death, either one…I killed the game, I didn’t use a gun, who better than me, don’t make me laugh, I run the “defecate” they just chase my “rear”, I’m not talking “defecate” Negro, just telling the facts, I think all the tracks I’m hearing from Negroes are whack, I be hearing these Negroes, what they say in their rhymes, I took my spot, nobody gave me mine,
Again, Timbaland doesn’t say “defecate,” or “rear” just like none of these rappers are saying “Negro.”

If you can’t feel in the blanks, then you may want to stop reading this because you are probably missing most of my message. Can you feel me on this? Do you think my proposition about Obama is unrealistic, or might he be in his limo 5 miles/minutes away from his next engagement using this specific excerpt from Gangstar’s Battle to give him the edge he needs to put up with all the additional crap a Black president must deal with?

“You can't compare to the status right here, Legendary worldwide, we can battle right here, Listen junior, I’ll tear back your wig, This ain't TV but I'll show you what a "Fear Factor" is.
Stop grillin me, all that frontin is killin me, You leave me no choice but to hurt your feelings G”

Or this excerpt from the Game’s song “How We Do,*

”They say I'm no good, Cuz I'm so hood, Rich folks do not want me around,
Cuz “stuff”might pop off, and if “stuff”pop off, Somebody gon' get laid the “fudge” out
They call me new money, say I have no class, I'm from the bottom, I came up too fast”

If Obama is hood, then I am a choir boy (I was actually an altar boy once). However, he might frame himself as a hood to be able to appropriate the rest of the song for his purposes. His lack of class and humble beginnings, including the questioning of his American-ness and his meteoric rise are somewhat compatible with Game’s lyrics.

Frankly, while I do use Michael Franks and Al Jarreau to assist me in setting my mellow moods, John Coltrane’s romantic vibe to grade papers and write creatively, I do use gangsta rap to assist me in having an edge when I need it. That’s just real for me, or as Snoop once said in a Dre cut titled Nothing But a G-Thang, “that’s realer than real deal Holyfield.” More so, I hope, for the sake of our nation, that Obama’s relating more to Marvin Gaye’s Inner City Blues:

“Hang ups, let downs, bad breaks, set backs, natural fact is, I can't pay my taxes
Oh, make me wanna holler, And throw up both my hands
Yea, it makes me wanna holler, And throw up both my hands
Crime is increasing, Trigger happy policing, Panic is spreading, God know where we're heading
Oh, make me wanna holler”

Or maybe listening to Sabac’s I Have a Dream

“I have a dream, I want to wake up to a revolution, I have a dream that people will rise up, Become wiser, I want to see people united, After the fighting. I have a dream.”

One thing is for sure, whether I’m right or wrong about our President, don’t you think someone should at least ask Obama about his musical taste?

What are the songs that were so powerful that you were inspired to take some type of action? What are the songs that you think Obama may be getting inspiration from? Does he listen to gangsta rap? If so, could it be an influence? How?


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“We da best!”

This is a phrase DJ Khaled uses arguably too much; however, Miami definitely took over the rap game for the year 2007. His statement was a swell segue into Obama’s White House victory. The Democrats had finally proven they were the best and it was time for change.

“It’s been a long, long time comin’, but I know change gon’ come. Oh, yes it will.”

It’s as though Sam Cooke saw the future when he sang this classic. Obama had to have been thinking about this tune when repeating his campaign slogan to billions of supporters. I could almost see the feeling this song emits in his eyes as he stood in front of a crowd, often for longer than he may have liked due to audience refusal to end applause. He humbly looked from side to side, blinking occasionally, and opened his mouth slightly as though he was about to speak; yet no words came out. Instead, a smooth, compassionate smile calmed the crowd and his voice captivated them, reminding them that they were the change that was needed and waited for.

Now that he’s in office, I assume Obama does listen to music that reminds him of his aim as president of the United States. Gangsta rap would suit anyone in this role, seeing as the United States is probably seen by many countries as gangsta, or thuggish rather. There needs to be a certain amount of edge in place to run a country, especially when a large percentage of the people you preside over do not like you. Oh yes, I think he bumps to 50 Cent’s Ryder Music.

“I keep my circle nice and small, I don’t fudge with these clown Negroes, in the race for the g’s I run laps around Negroes.”

“I’m fallin’ in love with success. Entrepreneur, connoisseur, I maneuver the best.”

“I make ‘em sick, when I say I’m the spit. They mistake my confidence for arrogance, they hate on the kid.”

With lyrics like this on the brain, it would be difficult to NOT have swag like Obama brings to a room when he walks in. J.W., I feel you, somebody really needs to ask Obama what’s good up in his headphones!

I also feel your point on music being a huge part in the mood a person may carry with them. I know that when I listen to a cut with an emcee that has some ill lyrical skills, I want to grab a pad and pen and start writing! When I hear a tight beat, it’s about the same reaction plus some “shoots” and “Yo! Play that spit again!” thrown in.

J.W., I hope you will be bumping “Klub Musik” by D. Davis and Ness soon. It may get you in the mood for some freaky freaky!

*** Via Via, your framing of Obama's potential inspirations is "sick," as in "ill," "wicked" or "nasty" and I don't mean in the traditional usage of the work sick as in poor health. Say What! And your respect of the innocence of our audience's ears or different sensibilities while trying to stay true to their musical content is appreciated. I hope other bloggers were with you when you substituted in Negro, spit, and fudge for their more caustic terms.

And what do you know about Sam Cooke other than the soundbites appropriated for mass marketing during the Obama campaign? Depending upon who you were with and how you framed him, Sam was R.Kelly before their was a R.Kelly.

Okay, enough of that jargon and rationale, it is nice to see I wasn't alone in a concern about what Obama might be bumping to right before he decides to engage his constituency. You don't really think he is bouncing to "Ryder Music" by 50 Cent do you? Could Obama even feel that flow? I mean, 50 Cent, Tupac, Dre, Biggie are not Michael, Prince, and even R. Kelly. I know I started this conversation, but the differences between their two realities are worlds apart. The first group talked about realistic murders in different context while the second group talked about romantic mayhem. I know you know that and it is reassuring that I wasn't the only woman who could fathom this child of the 60s feeling music of the millennium.

Lastly, regarding me getting in the mood for something "freaky, freaky," whatever could you mean by that? *** -- J.W.

I see Obama in two ways. I see the politician...and I see the father. I don't much care for the politician, as he's shown me he's not much different than the rest. But as a father, he seems most genuine. I've enjoyed seeing his interaction with his daughters.

In the end...there's nothing more important to me than my family. And in attempting to get a read on another person, I've always looked to see how a person treats their family. From that perspective, I gather that Obama is a good man.

How these two opposing faces interact...I don't know...but snippets I associate with Obama (not necessarily songs I think he listens to) are:

"Back when I was a child, before life removed all the innocence,
My father would lift me high and dance with my mother and me and then
Spin me around ‘til I fell asleep.
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure I was loved..."
[Luther Vandross]


"I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you'll always know
As long as one and one is two
There could never be a father
Who loved his daughter more than I love you"
[Paul Simon]

*** What is up Whaler? I actually would be interesting in exploring with you the reasons you don't like Obama, and most other politicians since they all seem to be of one breed to you. However, that would dominate this conversation and isn't what we are really discussing in this topic, so I will stay on point.

The Luther Vandross song is one of my favorites and touches my heart in a very special way. I wish I had a relationship with my father to sing happy songs about. On the contrary, I also hope my children will be inspired to sing if not write songs (or poetry) about our times together, or at least think of me when those songs are being sung. I am not familiar with the Paul Simon song. Most of my familiarity with Paul Simon stems from his collaboration with Art Garfunkel on the soundtrack for The Graduate. I don't think your reference came from that.

There is a lot to say about the way Barack and Michelle appear to be with their children. More so, the children seem to be genuinely happy. Under the microscope that they are under daily it would be hard to fake happiness.

An interesting question to ponder would be what would President Obama's reaction be to his eldest daughter informing him of her wishes to listen to gangsta rap, or simply letting him know that she does listen to it. Would he counsel her against it, or support it and why? What do you think may be reason he might go in either direction? *** -- J.W.

I suppose President Obama might just as likely listen to Heavy Metal as Snoop Dogg...maybe it's the heavy drums and forboding guitar riffs of Metalica's "Enter Sandman that girds him for a fight. Maybe he celebrates to Poison's "Nothing but a Good Time." Or is contemplative to Eric Johnson's "Cliffs of Dover." Maybe it's AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" that helps him wind down (or up?), or "Dirty Deeds" that helps him do what's necessary in politics?

Maybe even Country float's the Prez's boat? Brad Paisley's "Welcome to the Future" or to remind him of his own better intentions, maybe it's the close harmony of Sugarland and Little Big Town in "Life in a Northern Town?"

Is asking us to guess what kind of music the Prez might like actually a ploy to get us to think about how we might project our own tastes or expectations of him upon him? Does hazarding a guess open us up to ridicule - or at least examination - for having stereotyped the man, and therefore, his musical tastes? Are there musical genre's that we think a President SHOULD like? Is that playlist different if we're talking about an African American President?

As long as we're talking about music, (and you'll get a small sampling of my own personal playlist by just re-reading this post) you've got to hear Bernie Williams's version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." If you're a fan of jazz guitar, you'll enjoy it. If you're a baseball fan and know anything about Bernie and the Yankees, it might just make you cry.

*** CB, you could at least have thrown a few lyrics at us to let us know why you suggested certain songs as potentially influential to President Obama. I am pretty much clueless about most of the songs you offered.

Asking you to guess what kind of music Obama might like isn't necessarily a ploy to get you to think about how we might project our own tastes or expectations upon him? I am also not trying to ridicule him or you either, but definitely challenging you to examine whether we have inadvertently stereotyped any dimension of our first Black president, specifically in this case, his musical tastes. Since gangsta rap as a musical genre has only been around through five president's terms as our leader they would be the only ones we could wonder whether they are fans of that form of hip hop. Obama growing up in the era it became a form of expression within the black community may have actually acquired a taste for it. Reagan, and the Bush men are hard to imagine listening to it, while Clinton, who has often been called the Country's first Black president, isn't as difficult envisioning riding to it, perhaps even blunted.

Your question, is that play list different if we're talking about an African American President, is a good one. I think not necessarily, but most likely, for all the reasons I articulated in my original post on this topic, as well as others I've articulated here.

I am a baseball fan, though life in the Burgh has oddly enough been so hectic my knowledge of the MLB rosters has dwindled to nil somehow. I imagine you are speaking of NY Yankee player Bernie Williams as Jazz guitarist. I didn't know he played. I guess someone needs to take me out to the ballgame a bit more if I don't take myself. *** --J.W.

I would have to return to back what I feel is the core of the issue which I break into two separate pieces. First the conversation about the effects that music has on all of us, and second in agreeing with Card Buddy’s post the possible stereotypes we project onto someone about their assumed musical tastes based on how they appear.

Getting pumped listening to heavy metal/rock/rap while being playing sports/working out, gets my mind in a place to compete against myself and others. I choose to listen to Classical such as Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner while studying and doing work which helps prep me mentally for the battle with textbooks. Few could argue against the fact that being active and studying are two very different, yet distinct battlefields. The battle we wage is often with ourselves, with our limits and with our strengths. With every battle not only do you need to be physically prepared but mentally and emotionally as well, music gives many that mental edge. There have been countless studies about music’s effect on the body, and simple Google search will reveal too many to read. In terms of President Obama’s music choice I hope that what he listens too, he like many others chooses his tunes’ based on their appropriateness to his situation or mood. I listen to and like many types of music (some more than others) but if someone were to look at me would it be fair to say that I am a county boy, a heavy metal head banger, a classical and hip hop enthusiast? In truth, yes it would but only because I am making those admittances, I am defining myself that way. We arrive at my second point which is more a question.

How can we assume anything about our President or anyone? While I think in my personal opinion that the bureaucrats and suits could benefit from a good dosage of modern rap since many songs are very applicable to the events occurring in our country, who are we to place a judgment on President Obama and the type of music he listens too. We are making assumptions without knowledge which ultimately brings me to my point, why don’t we just ask? It can be uncomfortable but in my limited and continued experience with social justice (I am still new to the game but constantly seeking more of these conversations) the conclusions I have arrived at so far is that without firsthand knowledge we can only speculate, and often speculation leads to assumptions (appropriate or not).

*** JL, I see we have in common music as the background to our lives, or at least moments in our lives. I liked the way you articulated in detail the merits of utilizing music to leverage our emotional and physical energies.

We can assume certain things about people, including our President, when we have a bit of information about them. It doesn't mean we will be correct, but we tend to do this anyway? Knowing that Obama grew up in certain areas at a certain time provides us mileage into our efforts to situate him within a reality he may be shy about offering us. However, in his book Dreams from my Father he provides us access to his life in the streets as an adolescent. In his own words (more felt in the book on tape where he himself provides the narration) we hear him talk about some of the ways he was similar to those of us who grew up in the hood.

I agree that our bureaucrats and suits could benefit from a good dosage of modern rap. However, I don't agree with the implication of yours that we are placing a judgment on Obama simply by asking a question when you say "who are we to place a judgment on President Obama and the type of music he listens too." In this case there were no assumptions made, only questions asked. Reread my post and you should see that I only speculated about what he was listening to and why it could be the case. You are right though, we could just ask. So, why don't we (you) ask on behalf of us all, and then share with us the response. On the other hand, I did check it out a bit and discover that he doesn't own up to listening to this musical genre, which may have been a smart move on his part. He has already been called so many other things prior and since his election. Could he have even been elected if he had publicly acknowledged an affinity for gangsta rap? As a matter of fact, have any previous presidents acknowledged an affinity for hard rock? *** -- J.W.

Whaler’s response is very similar to my first thoughts. The separation of the man, Barack Obama: one the politician, one the father, and one the elusive ‘real’ man. The first, the politician, I don’t see much difference from many other politician in the US. Yes, I will agree he is a more charismatic an, for a lack of a better word, smooth; but over all I do not see much difference. Which I have accepted and moved on.

The second, the father, I think Whaler’s post hits the nail on the head. I too find myself judging a person on how they are with their families (for right or for wrong). And President Obama does and even excels in his parenting. At least in my opinion and from what I’ve seen in the public eye.

The third, the man, is much harder to define and is why I struggle to relate with him on a personal level, let alone a musical level. I can’t picture President Obama listening to music or when he finds time to listen. The other questions I ask, do I struggle with President Obama’s music because he is the President or because he is black? I can’t relate to either.

I am kind of stubborn when it comes to music; I like oldies, folk, country, some rock, lots of jazz; lighter stuff I guess. And I really do not explore other variety of music, at least not on my own. My first real introduction to harder music and rap came in college; my first roommate loved grudge music, people yelling and screaming in the microphone about disturbing things (didn’t like it much). The second experience, was coming into JW’s office, I still remember Simon & Garfunkel playing, some Tupac, then Prince’s “Sexy Mother Frollickers”, to “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye, finishing with some of (the all time great) John Coltrane, all before class. I smiled to myself as he then explained in detail how they all related and how he personally related to them in his life. It was probably, musically, the most enlightening conversations I’ve had. It was also when I first really realized how much music shapes our lives.

The point I guess I am trying to make is that I don’t understand the ‘man’ Barack Obama, or really understand anyone for that matter, at least not fully. Relating it to something else, I still struggle with him playing basketball, the President of the United States playing pick-up, can you picture other Presidents picking up the pall and throwing some elbows (“oh, wow, look at Jefferson dunk on Adams!”)?

However, it is a very interesting way of understand an individual, as JW elegantly points out; music plays an enormous role in our lives. Whether you enjoy the classics, hard rock, blues, etc., but how does that affect who we are or are becoming? Has me listening to Tupac changed my life, and how so? Or, me reluctantly taking Jazz History my freshmen year, only to realize how much I love it, how has that changed me? Has it just changed my style of music, or has it had a deeper effect on me as a human being? Why does U2 get me energized to take action, Queen gets me pumped to take on any event, Kenny Chesney makes me feel home, and John Coltrane makes me want to explore every fabric of life on a personal, spiritual level?

These are just a few of the questions flowing through my head right now. As I continue with this post and the responses I think of more and more questions to ask myself.

*** JA, I enjoy the fact that Obama is out balling like an everyday person. He needed to display some athletic ability in some sport after his abysmal efforts at bowling.

It makes me feel good that you obtained and retained the message behind my use of music as a mood setter for my classes and myself. For many music is a distraction at times (and sometimes for me) but it can also get me fired up and wired into the moment I am about to enter.

Your question "how does [music] affect who we are or are becoming?" is a good one. Yes, your listening to Tupac could change if not affect your life, if you really listened to what he said in his songs and then took the time to contextualize the song. When people sit down and spend time creating something they had other options on their time. The fact that they chose to do what they do when they did it is more than happenstance to me. I once has a college student from Virginia write me to thank me for the impact I had upon her younger brother who had participated in a High School's First Year Academy for 9th graders. The fact that she took the time to write a letter to me, someone she never met, was huge to my sense of worth about what I do and the impact it can have on others. Gangsta rappers who pen something socially significant often are coming from the heart and motivated to bring it that way. Even hurtful, potentially harmful lyrics tell us something about the society we live in, if we choose to listen. Your reluctance to take Jazz History your freshmen year and then realization of an affinity for it should have made you consider the possible indoctrination you may have had towards that type of music as an art form prior to experiencing it. It's like the scene from American History X where the Dad is challenging his son's interest in so-called Black books. Our initial music interests aren't necessarily our own, but something someone suggested to us.

U2, Queen, Chesney, and Coltrane's affect upon you only occur because you give them access to a part of your soul that is open enough to go the places they are capable of taking you. Your explorations (and Obama's if and when he chooses to go certain places) do add layers on to you if you are receptive to them. The Temptations "Message to a Black Man" was a mind blowing cut for a young brotehr trying to figure some things out while coming up in South Central L.A. I think Tupac's "Dear Mama," especially in the context of Michael Eric Dyson's "Do We Hate Our Women" (which you read as a student and TA in EDTF) can tell us a great deal about Tupac, wayward young brothers feelings about their mothers, life in the streets, and our respective ways of seeing. *** -- J.W.

Ok JW, good point. Here are some lyric links...

Enter Sandman (for your baseball fans, this is the song played at Yankee Stadium when Marino Rivera comes into the game)

Poison, Nothing but a Good Time

Sugarland, Life in a Northern Town

AC/DC, Dirty Deeds

AC/DC, You Shook Me All Night Long

Brad Paisley, Welcome to the Future

and finally,
Bernie Williams, Take me Out to the Ballgame...

There you go, JW!

President Obama’s musical preference, whatever it may be, may have some effect on him. However, to truly comprehend our president’s nature in terms of the way he presents himself as a consequence of the music he listens to, we must examine the art itself. Before I even delve any further into this topic, I will attempt to outline and elaborate on the true influence that music in general has on the masses.

Figuratively speaking, it’s very common for one to suggest that our actions, thoughts, and feelings are predicated on what we see or hear. For the sake of this argument I will solely focus on the latter. From my perspective, the power of music ventures much deeper than any of us can actually realize. The majority of individuals aren’t aware of the psychological effects music has on the mind. To be more precise, the basic function of music is to act as an infusing mechanism that taps into our brain frequencies causing minor but acute hypnotism. Through this process, our actions, feelings, and thoughts mirror what hits our eardrums. Why do you think that African Americans, as much as any other race, maintain a zest for materialistic ideology, or the fact that 90% of young black men are murdered by their own brethren primarily through means of gang violence and drug dealings. Our music predominantly promotes malicious insidious acts while at the same time glorifying material fads.

Remember Biggie’s Big Poppa lyrics?

Money, hoes, and clothes
All a nigga knows

How about more recently T.I.’s lyrics in You Can Have Whatever You Like;

Baby you can have whatever you like, yeeeeaaah
Five million dollar home drop Bentleys I swear, yeeeaah

As you can obviously see, it’s apparent in most hip hop media outlets. Now to be fair urban music isn’t the only culprit in this matter. Genres such as Rock ‘n’ Roll and Heavy Metal may have contrasting agendas compared to hip hop, but their methods are one in the same. Have you ever wondered in bewilderment why every kid from the ghetto relishes the chance to own a Jesus piece, waits to “cop” the new pradas, or “push” a whip all before the age of 18?!?

For those who aren’t familiar with slang terminology, “My Bad”.

Music has the innate ability to reach into the very depths of our sub-consciousness. The direct and indirect messages are transmitted to, in some way, shape, or form, control us. Many people may or may not know that Helter Skelter, a song written by The Beatles, was the motivation and inspiration that fueled the deviant and murderous mind of Charles Manson. I can provide assertion after assertion on how music/sound waves is instituted as a mind-controlling medium. The bottom line is that that this form of art has an enormous effect on the human mind whether positive or negative. However, there is a combatant against the formidable effects of music on the mind. (Remember this is my point of view and I am not forcing my ideas onto anyone.) Our intellectual capacity is the filter that keeps us from behaving in somewhat of a primitive state. We’re all intelligent enough not to act like savages, but many of us are susceptible to manipulation on all sorts of levels. We all possess the capability to utilize our intellect in means of controlling ourselves, but many of us refuse to do so! Which is a perfect precursor into understanding whether President Obama’s relationship with gangster rap influences him.


Do I think our President listens to gangster rap? That is a definite YES! He’s even admitted to listening to Jay-Z. I know Jay-Z isn’t the prototypical gangster rapper (i.e. Snoop Dogg or The Game), but he has a lot of gang-related lyrics. Mr. Obama may very well know the lyrics to Ice T’s Cop Killer word for word.( I doubt that though). Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure he’s familiar with gangsta rap. He’s probably even done the thriller dance in the oval office. Maybe he’s even had freestyle battles with David Axelrod(Chief Whitehouse Advisor). The truth of the matter is this. Barack Obama has proven to be a man of intellectual fortitude. I assure you he doesn’t use gangsta rap to charge his cerebral batteries. Aside from the fact that he doesn’t display the characteristics or demeanor of a person who is an avid listener of gangsta rap, the man is too brilliant to allow music in as the sole inspiration of his life. In other words, it’s safe to say that we’ll never hear the “N” word slip out or hear him refer to Joe Biden as Jay Bizzle. Look I’m not implying that he doesn’t dance with his wife to a ballad of Luther Vandross, but his political agendas don’t stem from the aggression of gangsta rap. His motivation on healthcare reform is from his deceased mother. He gets agitated towards conservative ideology that is aimed at destroying his healthcare agenda and I believe that gives him an edge. I believe that the source of President Obama’s edge or fire towards his political proposals comes from his determination to be a successful president.

It’s sort of the norm for African American men to get some type of edge from hardcore rap, at least the ones I know. However, this doesn’t insinuate an automatic transformation to a thuggish mentality. This is where your intellectual capacity plays a role. It gives us the ability to take control of our minds therein bestowing upon us full control of our actions, thoughts, and emotions. Of course President Obama gets an edge from gangsta rap, who doesn’t! In spite of this, he is able to block out any subliminal effects it may have on his mind which would unintentionally corrupt his own policies. Coincidentally, we all have the aptitude to access this. Unfortunately, many of us don’t use it to the best of our ability.

Ultimately, no one is immune to the power of music. Nevertheless, it is highly imperative that we regulate that power to a certain extent. From my standpoint, I believe our President can do that.

Aint it the truth, I truly share the same views as the author and could not agree more.

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