Take a Look at Hip-Hop’s Memorable Moments With the Democratic Party
Hip-hop has embraced politics more than ever over the last few years, especially when it comes to the Democratic party. Since President Obama's political rise -- who can forget that memorable keynote speech he gave at the 2004 DNC Convention when he was then-Illinois State Senator -- hip-hop, a once underground genre of music that was outcasted in pop culture, has been connected to his political campaigns more than any other president before him. However, the history of politicians getting involved with hip-hop artists has been a strange journey -- on both sides of the party lines.
On March 18, 1991, N.W.A's Eazy E was an invited guest to a luncheon in Washington, D.C. with then-President George H.W. Bush, Republican Senate leader Bob Dole and the Republican Senatorial Inner Circle. The rapper received an invitation to the private meeting after he contributed $2,490 to the Republican Party.
Fast forward to a year later and the infamous "Sister Souljah Moment" happens. In May 13, 1992, the Washington Post published an interview with Sister Souljah, a hip-hop MC, author, and political activist who was discussing the 1992 L.A. riots. When asked if the riots were wise, Souljah's response made headlines.
"Yeah, it was wise," she explained. "I mean, if black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?... White people, this government and that mayor were well aware of the fact that black people were dying every day in Los Angeles under gang violence. So if you're a gang member and you would normally be killing somebody, why not kill a white person? Do you think that somebody thinks that white people are better, are above and beyond dying, when they would kill their own kind?"
Previously in 1991, Souljah stated in the beginning of her music video for the song “The Final Solution: Slavery’s back in Effect” that "If there are any good white people, I haven't met them."
Bill Clinton, who delivered a speech at Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition in 1992, responded to Souljah's remarks saying, "If you took the words 'white' and 'black,' and you reversed them, you might think [white supremacist] David Duke was giving that speech."
This was Clinton's attempt to distance himself from Jackson, who wasn't popular with "moderates" or "undecideds" voters and extreme politics. This incident later coined the term "Sister Souljah Moment," used to label an instance of a political candidate distancing themselves from a disturbingly extreme association.
As time passed, however, hip-hop and the Democratic party basically joined forces. President Obama ushered in a new political weapon against the Republicans and that was getting rappers on his side. Barack, a pretty big hip-hop himself, was openly seen with rappers such as Kanye West to Doug E. Fresh and everyone in between. During his campaign and presidency, he had a ton of major hip-hop moments -- his iconic shoulder brush and the legendary White House Correspondents' Dinner speech in which he said "I’ve got 99 problems and now Jay Z is one,” to name a few.
Embracing hip-hop culture has transitioned to the Democratic campaign currently run by Hillary Clinton, who's now making history as the first woman to run for President in the U.S. She, along with her campaign team, has joined forces with rappers like Pusha T, Jay Z and more to help reach young millennials to get out and vote.
To mark the link between hip-hop and the Democratic party over the years, XXL looks back at the memorable moments in the game in which artists and candidates have teamed up for the greater good.
Following Obama's legendary keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, a clip from HBO's documentary By the People: The Election of Barack Obama shows the politician discussing taxes and voting with Andre 3000. "If you don't like what you see going on around you, then for you not to do anything about it is to admit defeat," said Obama. "And I don't like being punked like that."
Four years before Obama becomes President of the United States and during Diddy's Vote or Die era, the rapper got a chance to interview Barack Obama for MTV News when the politician was just a candidate for the senate.
Fresh off the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single "Moneymaker," Ludacris was arguably the biggest rapper on the planet. In 2006, Obama and Luda held a private meeting in his Chicago office about "empowering the youth." The image of Obama standing next to Ludacris, who was also wearing a black T-shirt featuring Ben Franklin on a wanted poster (see below in a tweet), is one of the most iconic photos in the history of rap and politics.
Obama would later distance himself from Ludacris two years later, when the latter released a track titled "Politics as Usual." On the record, Luda harshly attacks Senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Now they're on good terms.
In 2008, Q-Tip shared that Obama had a guest verse on his then-upcoming album The Renaissance. "I've got Norah Jones on there, but Barack is the big one. You'll see what happens, I can't reveal too much," said Q-Tip.
When the album came out though, Barry's verse was missing. What happened, Tip? The world may never know.
Common was invited to perform spoken word for "An Evening of Poetry" at the White House in celebration of American poetry and prose during President Obama's first term.
The Grammy-winning MC was joined by a varied cast of poets: singer-songwriters Aimee Mann and Jill Scott; former U.S. poets laureate Rita Dove and Billy Collins; avant-garde poets Alison Knowles and Kenneth Goldsmith; and comedian-banjoist Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. They celebrated poetry and the spoken word before dozens of high-schoolers, President Obama and the First Lady.
The event didn't come without controversy. Fox Nation, a site run by Fox News, dubbed Common as “vile” and a “cop killer rapper” in their headlines and some media figures expressed their discomfort with having him perform. Sad story.
Jay Z and Beyonce held a fundraiser for Obama in 2012 at the rapper's 40/40 Club in New York. The couple raised $4 million during the $40,000 per ticket fundraiser.
The night before America's 2012 presidential election, Jay Z appeared at Barack Obama's final campaign rally in Ohio and performed hit songs from his catalog like "Public Service Announcement," "On to the Next One," "Run This Town," "Encore" and most noteworthy "99 Problems," which he subbed in the word "Mitt"—as in Obama's Republican opponent Mitt Romney—in place of the word "bitch" on the chorus. This was one of the biggest night's in hip-hop history. It was a sign that hip-hop crossed over into politics in a major way.
Jay Z and Beyonce were invited to join the president’s second inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C. Hip-hop’s first couple looked like royalty and Bey sang the national anthem. It was a beautiful moment.
Detroit MC and former XXL Freshman Big Sean became the first rapper to actually rap at the White House on April 21, 2014, when he was included in the lineup for the White House’s annual Easter Egg Hunt. Sean and his then-girlfriend Ariana Grande performed their collab, “Right There.”
Nicki Minaj, J. Cole, Pusha T, Alicia Keys, DJ Khaled, Ludacris, Common, Busta Rhymes and more visited the White House to discuss criminal justice reform with President Barack Obama in April of last year.
The conference was part of Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. The mission aimed to help young people through mentoring programs and support networks.
Wale was a speaker at Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Initiative in Washington D.C. Hosted by the First Lady herself, the event was part of the 2015 Beating the Odds Summit. Over 130 college-bound students in the nation’s capital were in attendance. Wale performed for the college students and held a spot on an E! News panel with Mrs. Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and co-founder of college student network 1vyG, Manuel Contreras.
The former XXL Freshman has been a frequent guest to the White House. He opened for President Obama during his final State of the Union address and also made headlines for being in attendance during the White House gun measure announcement back in January.
Snoop Dogg performed at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia's Electric Factory on July 28. The West Coast rap veteran was the headliner for the Unity Party event along with Grammy Award-winning rock band Los Lobos.
Pusha T and democratic vice president nominee Tim Kaine teamed up to host a block party this year. The Liberty City Block Party with Pusha T and Tim Kaine took place at Miami Dade College’s North Campus at the Carrie P. Meek Entrepreneurial Education Center.
Last month, Hillary Clinton announced the meet-and-greet with the “Grindin'” MC via Twitter. By registering to vote, contestants would be given a chance to win free airfare and hotel accommodations for the event.
Senator Kaine and Pusha T sat down to discuss what’s at stake in this election, the historic nature of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and the importance of defending President Obama’s legacy. They also touched on the broken criminal justice system, the importance of restoring trust between communities of color and law enforcement, and the need to ensure that everyone has access to quality higher education without the crushing burden of student debt.
Eight years since the Last Chance for Change concert with LeBron James and four years after introducing Obama in Ohio, Jay Z held a free concert in support of Hillary Clinton in Cleveland on Nov. 4. Even though the mogul faced criticism from Donald Trump in the midst of it—he successfully pulled off the event which featured performances from Beyonce, Chance The Rapper, J. Cole and Big Sean.
During the show, Jay suggested that Donald Trump could not become the next president before introducing Clinton. When the democratic nominee hit the stage, concert-goers were additionally treated to Hillary's remix of the Roc Nation head's lyrics. “I thank Jay for addressing in his music some of our biggest challenges in the country; poverty, racism, the urgent need for criminal justice reform,” stated Clinton. “And remember, Jay memorably said something we should all recall. ‘Rosa Parks sat, so Martin Luther could walk. And Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run. And Barack Obama ran so all the children could fly," she said.
Hammer appeared in an ad campaign for California State Senate nominee Scott Wiener alongside, Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Jaleel White and Barney Frank. Featuring a song titled, “Hip to Be Square,” the five celebrities lament on Wiener’s ability to be cool despite his L 7 looks.