Rap tracks can definitely lend themselves to strange bedfellows; Nelly and Tim McGraw are a pair that comes to mind.
But battle MC Jin never imagined a song of his would actually lead him to (sort of) become friends with a presidential candidate. Yet that's (sort of) what happened when he posted a freestyle on his MySpace page titled "Open Letter 2 Obama," a pep-rally-like track honoring Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama.
"I put it up on my page, sent the MP3 out to different Web sites, just the standard protocol," Jin said of the track's origin.
"I don't think I've ever been interested and passionate about an election prior to this," he continued. "So I did the record, we put it out, and as things started growing traction, people from the actual campaign started reaching out to me. At first it started out with the [Obama] MySpace page sending me a message saying, 'Great song, we appreciate it, keep it up.' I wrote back like, 'Thanks, appreciate it.' Then another week goes by and they hit me up again, like, 'Yo, what's your profile address? We'd like to feature you in our top friends.' I'm like, 'Cool.' And next thing you know, I check it and I'm the top friend on that page, which was pretty ill."
Jin has since reciprocated the gesture, placing the Obama page as his top friend. But it's an unlikely connection considering the rest of the Obama friends consist of more conventional pages like "Moms for Obama" and "Oklahomans for Obama."
"If you really look at it on a bigger scope, it's a pretty big look [for me]," Jin said. " 'Cause you look up there, there's a list [with] a lot of various supporters ... [and] you have me up there with my joint playing."
The track — produced by and featuring Brooklyn, New York, rapper Pete Miser — is the first song that Jin put together for his next project, The Voice, a more scripted album, both topically and thematically. "It's a real simple theory," Jin said. "Everybody has a voice, and it's a matter of do you use it or not."
And Jin just happened to be reading about Obama when he decided to begin recording The Voice, which he hopes to release by the end of the year or early '08.
"One of the questions I kept getting asked — and this is before the campaign caught wind of it — was, 'Why did you do this record?' " Jin said. "And in my mind it was like, 'Well, I do this, or the record about the chick with the fat ass in the club.' [He laughs.] And I was like, 'Let me go with the Obama joint.'
"I started analyzing my career and the type of records that I've done," he continued. "At some point as an artist, you want to be able to say, 'All right, I've touched on this, I've touched on that, let me see how far I can go with it.' So I started looking into different candidates and just following the election. It's ill because it's part music and then just part me as a young man growing up. I came across Obama and I started looking into his stance on certain issues, his history and things he's done in the Senate. And I was hooked. This is the dude I'm rocking with."
Over the weekend, Jin even participated in Obama's "Walk for Change" event in Union Square Park in Manhattan. It's not something he planned to do, but it's furthering the reciprocal relationship between the two camps.
"Their campaign is taking a risk [associating with hip-hop], especially with the platform that candidates are on, they get scrutinized for everything," Jin said. "They could easily not recognize me at all. Easily. 'Cause it's a big liability.
"But outside of everything, just removing myself from the equation, and just observing everyone, there is just a sense of excitement and eagerness," he continued. "There's the natural way of donating to the campaign, but it's really about the excitement. I think people just wanna take their excitement and turn it into something tangible and just something that can actually contribute into getting this guy into office."