I have been meaning to write about celebrities and their support for President Obama for a while now. Here it is.
My beef was re-kindled after hearing Young Jeezy on the Rickey Smiley Morning show expressing his continual support for Obama and released his new song, “We Done It Again.” Obama has shouted him out jokingly, “in my first term I sang Al Green, in my second term, I’m going with Young Jeezy.”
The new song has normal political topics: praising the GM bailout, blame everything on Bush, Romney can’t relate to Blacks, Hurricane Katrina, etc. He even says, “we waiting on a savior, maybe Barak.”
Then laments about the number of Blacks in jail before saying this is supposed to be the “land of the free.”
During the interview I couldn’t help but to think about the drug laws, an issue of great importance to me, and how Jeezy, also known as the Snowman, a former drug dealer, who raps about selling drugs, and the lifestyle of it, which includes dying and/or imprisonment, never mentions or connects the Black imprisonment rate with the War on Drugs, an extremely popular and enduring topic in Hip Hop music.
OK that was a lot. Let me try again.
Obama, an ardent prohibitionist, receives support from a former drug lord, boss, whatever, who released a song in praise of the President, which ignores a problem he griefs about in the song–Blacks in jail.
I understand drug policy wasn’t the point the song and isn’t a top issue for most people but Jeezy made a living—dare I say, lifestyle–off the War on Drug policies–and is still profiting from the image now!
Not too sound insulting, but with an issue so pivotal to Jeezy’s life, does he know the President’s or the Democratic Party platform? Unfortunately I couldn’t listen to the full interview but I’d be interested if the hosts asked why, exactly, he liked the President and disliked Romney? Also, what does he think about the President’s gun positions, since he’s been arrested on gun charges.
That sounds like a more interesting conversation in my opinion.
My belief is, like most people, he’s attracted to Obama’s youthfulness, Blackness, Democratic-ness (?). In my experience, other than Obamacare, most people can’t tell me why they like Obama–but are quick to lash out against “the other team.” He sings Al Green, hangs with entertainers, drinks and attends NBA games, etc. Overall he is more likeable and charismatic (Romney bears neither trait), which is perhaps the greatest factor in determining politicians.
Voters love personality, to hell with the policies.
Lastly the song says Obama can’t fix what “Bush f*cked up in two.” Does this suggest it will take 2 terms to fix? If the problem isn’t “fix(ed)” by 2016, will you release another song praising or condeming his performance and presidency? You might as well; if you praise him now with a bad economy and high unemployment–then you should praise him again if the situation worsens.
Since the founding, mainstream rap has centered around a few things, one of them being, certainly, the use and sale of drugs. The drug choice of use is mainly marijuana, weed, Mary Jane–whatever name you give your bud–cocaine and pills. Virtually all of the A and B class rappers, unless, of course, he/she is a gospel rapper, have several songs which mentions and/or glorify the activities.
Recently while listening to 8 Ball and MJG’s On Top of the World, the thought of the effect drug laws had on the Hip hop community rubbed over me. President Nixon ramped up so called War on Drugs and since then neighborhoods and oversea villages have been raided, masses of innocent people have died and hundreds of billions dollars have been spent (or wasted, depending which way you look at it). Now, I won’t beat a dead horse on the impact the WOD had on the Black community. We all know half (p.1, pdf) of prison inmates are in there for drug offenses; we all know WOD has been nicknamed a War on Black People; we all know Blacks get tougher penalties for drug offenses; we all know there is sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine drug charges.
Since we know all that, imagine the impact looser drug laws would have had on the Hip hop world and its entertainers. A lot of rappers would not have existed in the rap scene if forced to choose a legal profession. It was, precisely, the effect of selling drugs (and drug policies) that led them to rap and choosethat as their topic and image of choice.
What goes for Jeezy goes for Jay Z. Does he support Obama for public image? Didn’t you, Jay-Z (with Kareem Biggs Burke, who was recently sentenced to prison for marijuana charges), co-found Roc A Fella with drug money? Isn’t most of your albums about drug dealing and street life?
Rappers who claim to be former drug dealers should thank the President and other prohibitionist for enriching them, like Mexico’s drug lord who said, “From the bottom of my heart, I want to say, Gracias amigos [Reagan, Bush Jr and Sr., and Obama], I owe my whole empire to you.”
This whole celebrity-politics-Obama complex is a big problem for me. Overall, I take absolutely every word out of a celebrity’s mouth with a grain of salt, or sand, whichever is smaller and weighs less. Rappers and celebrities should just butt out of the political (and social?) sphere and stick to making music.
During the Kony 2012 craze-mess, Lupe Fiasco, viewed as a more “conscious” artist, tweeted that Obama should send troops to Uganda. But Obama already did that months before Fiasco and the rest of the world caught onto the flavor of the month. I recognize “Little Soldiers,” so salute to you Mr. Fiasco.
Of course they can and will do what they please and I will always defend their freedom of speech, expression and conscience, even if what they say, express or think is completely false or contradictory; I don’t want a monopoly on this thing. But Murray Rothbard’s quote on economics applies to all topics: “It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline…But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”
Well said. It is no crime to be ignorant of politics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline of acting and doublespeak. Thinking in retrospect, celebrities may not be ignorant of politics, for they, too specialize in acting and doublespeak. Public figures and celebrities have a long history of working together though. Governments have alays hired them to further their ideology; and celebrities have always signed up for genuine or whorish reasons.
I can go on for years, in depth, on the hypocrisy of entertainers and politics but I will save that for another day—or a book.
*Update: I just discovered Jay Z doesn’t like the word “politics,” supports higher taxes but thinks we need “less government.” He supports “Barack because I gotta respect that sort of vision. I gotta respect a man who is the first black President ever,” he said.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Bab. Check out his politcial and social commentary blog MindsAlike.