When Obama ran for president in 2008, there’s no question that hip hop artists provided a vital soundtrack for his campaign. Energized by the possibility that Obama could become America’s first black president, deeply optimistic tracks like Will.i.am’s “It’s A New Day” and Kidz in the Hall’s “Work to Do (Obama 08)” celebrated Obama’s historic presidency. But as Obama’s administration failed to meet the expectations of some artists and activists, critical songs like David Banner’s “Evil Knievil” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Hood Politics” began to emerge as well. Songs such as “All I Do Is Win” and “At Last” illustrate Obama’s shrewd use of music to shape his political identity. Hip hop reflects diverse perspectives, hopes, and expectations that can be found across the world in the era of Obama and beyond. A sonic companion to The Hip Hop & Obama Reader, this playlist reveals the complicated relationship between President Barack Obama and hip hop.
Featured image: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and are serenaded by Beyoncé at their first inaugural dance at the Neighborhood Ball in downtown Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Suzanne Day, USAF. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.