President Obama Challenges Musicians To Get Political

During 'Ask Obama,' the president tells MTV News he raised his political awareness in college by listening to Bob Marley.

President Obama is a big believer in the power of music to influence change — even if he doesn't exactly have the time to update his iPod.

When MTV News' Sway Calloway interviewed the president for "Ask Obama Live: An MTV Interview with the President" on Friday, he brought up the current state of politically conscious music. Bob Dylan, Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine all made their mark in years past, but Sway wondered if Obama thought any current artists were effecting social change through their music.

"You know, it's an interesting question. We haven't seen as much directly political music," Obama admitted. "You know, I think the most vibrant musical art form right now over the last 10, 15 years has been hip-hop. Some folks have kind of dabbled in political statements, but a lot of it has been more cultural than political. You've got folks like Springsteen who are still putting out very strong political statements, but I'd like to see a more explicit discussion of the issues that are out there right now, because music's such a powerful mechanism."

So who was Barack Obama listening to as an undergraduate? The king of reggae himself, Bob Marley.

"I remember in college listening, and not agreeing with his whole philosophy necessarily, but raising my awareness of how people outside of our country were thinking about the struggle for jobs and dignity and freedom," Obama said of the iconic "One Love" singer.

Obama referenced the '70s and the youth's sense of engagement in the anti-war movement that manifested in the era's protest music.

"I would hope that we're gonna see more of that," Obama said. "You can set the world on fire in a positive way."

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