Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ending It Jordan-Style

Jay-Z speaks about Obama campaign

One of the brilliant aspects of the Barack Obama Presidential campaign was its ability to use celebrity, in particular to get out the youth vote.

So far as the youth vote goes, rap and hip hop artists were instrumental in inspiring African American youths to vote. Obama must have known that, as an African American candidate, he had a unique opportunity to meld hip hop-oriented political action and speech -- known in general as raptivism -- within his campaign.

Thus a personal call to, among others, Jay-Z.

"He was calling me saying it was the fourth quarter and how we need to end this game Jordan-style," Jay-Z said. "He was joking. He has a good sense of humor."

Involving individuals like Jay-Z and even the comparatively-terrible Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas turned out to be a stroke of opportunistic genius for Obama. It helped him harness the youth vote and end the Presidential election decisively. Jordan-style.

But there is a dark and troublesome side to the move.

Given how closely most American voters hold the issue of crime to their hearts, it's tough to decide whether to be alarmed or amused at the notion that Obama would turn to someone who -- despite the fact that he makes fabulous music -- is a known former crack dealer.

Of course, Jay-Z wasn't the biggest problem Obama ran into during his campaign. Rapper Ludacris produced a song in which he suggested that Obama should give him a pardon if he ever winds up in jail, and suggested that John McCain belongs in a wheelchair.

Critics of Obama briefly flirted with invoking Jay-Z when his song "99 Problems" was played at an Obama campaign event.

Of course, these troubles began and ended with Obama's campaign. To pretend that Jay-Z or Ludacris have had much of any kind of an influence in Obama's administration would be laughable.

But for his own part at least Jay-Z has a new perspective to offer in regard to media commentators who have (hysterically) accused Obama of racism.

"I don't think it's straight racism, but they're talking to a racist audience, which is dangerous," he said. "But they're doing it for ratings. It's sensationalism, right? They're doing it for this type of attention."

That particular perspective -- at very least the "sensationslist" part -- could well prove to be a Jordan-style method of ending that particular debate.

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