Call them your favorite rappers, voting virgins or just plain citizens finally doing their civic duty. Some of rap's biggest names voted for the first time in this election, and they feel liberated about it.
"Real beautiful day for me, man," Busta RhymesBusta Rhymes said Tuesday afternoon (November 4). In his mid-30s, Bus never voted before because he felt no prior candidate could identify with the African-American experience. It changed with Barack Obama. Busta sees the Illinois senator not just as an extraordinary leader, but as a symbol.
"The fact that his skin complexion, his age, the stories he has to tell," Busta said. "What we can see in him is way more than what we've been able to see in any other [candidate] prior to him. Seeing him could be the one thing that's gonna spark the mind of the young child — whether it be black, Indian, Puerto Rican, Asian — that it's possible for them to achieve that greatness. My kids can look outside of their father. They have a motivation to reach a level [higher] than I ever had before. That alone does it in such a major way for me."
Busta recorded his new album, B.O.M.B., until 4 a.m. Tuesday, then went home to sleep. But he was up at 6 and at the polls at 7. He said voting in New York was a "defining moment" in his life.
At first, however, he wasn't 100 percent sure that he would be able to vote.
"I pull up to the poll site, I go inside," he recounted. "The entire staff was so excited to see me, I felt like I was coming home to my crib. People were embracing me, kissing me on the cheek. I'm kissing them back. Then a lady opens up the book and says, 'Let me see your ID.' When I registered to vote, I didn't get anything back in the mail, so I didn't have the confirmation [my registration] went down correctly. So I see my signature in that big-ass book. I point to my signature and say, 'That's me, miss.' She grabbed my ID and said, 'It looks like you.' "
Once Busta got his pass to go to the booth, he got nervous. He couldn't mess this up.
"I looked at the booth for, like, 20 minutes," he admitted. "I couldn't go in there. I knew I was only gonna get one time to go in that booth and make the vote the right way. I pulled back the curtain, and I said, 'This sh-- looks weird. Please give me the instruction one more time.' "
When at last, Busta voted, he said, "I had a feeling I never felt. We [as entertainers] get to do a lot of great things — travel the world, get cars and jewelry. The thing that cost me nothing was the greatest and most rewarding feeling in the world for me. I did my part."
Juelz SantanaJuelz Santana voted in New Jersey.
"I feel good," the Obama-supporting Diplomat said. "My first time ever. It's kinda like when you tell the truth, like how they say when you tell the truth, the truth will set you free. That was one of the things that I hoped, that I could be a part of history.
"I had to ask the guy standing right there, 'What buttons do I press?' " Juelz continued. "I seen all types of crazy sh-- happening in the poll. 'Tell me what to press. I don't wanna be pressing the wrong things.' "
Finally, Santana made his choice.
"It was pretty fast," he said of the process. "Faster than we expected. We knew a lot of people would go voting before work. The good thing about Jersey, it's a lot of different polls in one town, and the towns are so small. It was crowded in there, but it moved kinda fast. It took about 45 minutes."
MainoMaino waited in line for about an hour to vote in New York, and he said it was worth it. Especially because prior to a few weeks ago, he thought his criminal record would prevent him from being eligible.
"I had a great team, the supporting cast around me," Maino said, explaining how he found out his rights. "I thought I couldn't vote. I had been incarcerated; I had two violent felonies. I did a long bid. I felt I would never be able to vote. They don't inform us that we have those rights. My people told me, 'We researched it. You can vote.' I was like, 'Nah.' I was arguing with them. I didn't even want to fill out the voter registration. I felt it would be a waste of time. But I filled it out, it came back, and I was [good to go].
"It was a major experience," he added about voting. "I'd never been a part of anything like that, other than when I was very young, going with my mother. I never went inside the booth. It was just a beautiful experience knowing we're on the verge of making history. Win, lose or draw, it feels good to be a part of something."
NasNas, Soulja Boy Tell'emSoulja Boy Tell'em and Bow WowBow Wow all either voted for the first time or voted earlier via absentee ballot. "Tonight is the night," Juelz said, describing how he wants to celebrate if Obama wins. "I wanna say I'm gonna get a couple of bottles, but I don't know. They like pulling white rabbits out of black hats, if you get what I'm saying. It's too obvious, Barack is winning. If McCain wins, we'll have new meaning for the word politics. You're going to go to the dictionary and just today's date is going to pop up. Even though I felt Obama was winning, I still went out and voted. There's no room for failure."
Busta was so excited about voting, he got on the phone with friends and went out to the streets to inspire people to get to the polls, no matter what.
"We campaigned everywhere," Rhymes noted. "[If Obama wins], you gonna get a little bit of everything from me [tonight]. You gonna feel my presence as if I was running the campaign. I'mma be running around every club, stampeding and taking over every situation to make sure the celebration is prioritized."
MTV News is at the polls in all 50 states — check out our coverage all day long on MTV and right here on MTVNews.com. Then, tell us why you voted! Comment below, upload video at yourhere.mtv.com, or text VOTE to 66333 with your first name, age, state and a comment about your experience. Your message will appear on our election map and could appear on TV today!