Barack Obama Gives A Shout-Out To Hip-Hop

Senator says artists are 'thinking about social responsibility and how they can impact the culture in a positive way.'

Yes, hip-hop loves Barack Obama. From Weezy to Jeezy, Jay to 'Ye, some of rap's biggest names have saluted him in their lyrics, and he's inspired mixtapes, bootleg T-shirts and onstage shout-outs.

But what does the senator think of hip-hop? Sure, he went all Jay and brushed dirt off his shoulder at an April campaign stop and referenced Lil Wayne during a speech in July. But he was also quick to admonish Ludacris for a particularly fiery freestyle aimed at George W. Bush and then-rival Hillary Clinton. And while stars like Oprah Winfrey, Usher and John Legend have turned up next to Obama at campaign stops, the hip-hop nation has been virtually absent from the senator's stage.

So how does Obama feel about the genre that has rallied around him?

"I enjoy it, but these days I don't have the time to listen to it all the time," he told MTV News. He said that he still finds time to shuffle through MCs like Jay-Z and Kanye on his iPod, but he thinks the genre's impact extends far beyond a few hot tracks.

"I'm a little older than hip-hop culture," he said. "I was there at the beginning, but I was already getting older. ... What I've appreciated, watching this hip-hop generation, is to see how entrepreneurial they've been. In the past, musicians oftentimes were commodities. They were just shuffled around. Obviously, they did well, but they didn't have the vision to say, 'I'm going to build a business. I'm going to build my own studio. I'm going to create my own production operations.' I think they're a lot more sophisticated than in the past, and that is a wonderful thing."

He went on to tell MTV News that he's still seeing growth in the genre and that he's optimistic about what's ahead for hip-hop.

"What I'm starting to see is them stretching out more and thinking about social responsibility and how they can impact the culture in a positive way," he said. "And I hope that continues."

And where does he weigh in on hip-hop's hottest issue -- the greatest of all time?

"Oh no, I'm not going to get caught up in all that," he laughed.


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