President Obama and The Carters

As the present becomes a relic, the Obamas and the Carters will be history’s odd couple.

Before Barack Obama was the eye candy of the media and political magnet for black moms and grandmas everywhere, he wasn’t as easily received among black folks. It was due to a common ignorance shared in the black community about elite-educated blacks: he wasn’t black enough.

It was a perception the Obama campaign addressed swiftly and effectively. Energy and fervor started shifting in Obama’s favor, as his story and charisma was hard to resist. The critical moment came when Obama was verbally jostling with Hilary Clinton at a Pennsylvanian rally for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama reminded the crowd about the mudslinging thrown his way, and to emphasize, got something off his shoulder.

It was dope. It was novel. It wasn’t a political campaign as much as it was a cultural transfusion.

They struck up a bond as friends generally do — through like interests. Barack Obama was polished and comported himself politically, yet he appreciated the Jay-Z’s witty street-driven rhymes as much as anybody did.

But with the uproar from the Brooklyn emcee’s latest track, I wonder if he’s liking his music as much these days.

“Open Letter” is seen by many as a thorn — small, but a thorn — to the Obama Administration as they move forward in a pivotal time in their legacy. Immigration, budget, guns are the issues up in the air. However kind the bureaucratic winds are will greatly determine his domestic policy legacy as president.

One crowd is going after the Obamas for allowing his friends to go to Cuba while another throws haymakers at the Carters for making things harder on the president.

It’s not just the trip, either. Rumors of occult ties still follow Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce, who many claim are getting bolder in their “expressions.” They are agents of darkness, here to spread…

Let’s just take a deep breath.

Many advocate for the Obamas to sever ties with the Carters because the stakes are too high. In other words, to save a image, a friendship must be jettisoned.

If we prioritize love and friendship in our personal lives, how could we deny that priority to another person? The same lens we gauge ourselves through can’t be discarded when we look at others.

Truth is, Jay-Z and Barack Obama are an interwoven pair. After they joined forces during the 2008 presidential campaign, the black vote was a wrap and Jay-Z had an ally on his way to the top seat. Michelle O. and Beyoncé started becoming more chummy with each other in public. The first children, Sasha and Malia, are noted Beyoncé fans. Suddenly, the picture of the two heavyweight celebrity couples paling around in Oval Office became common. Two pieces that fit.

Except…Obama is a politician. Jay-Z is a hip-hop artist. This connection is a first. They are, by definition, opposed in core principles. Most hip hop artists come from rich urban environments that often reeks of political oversight and negligence. This sentiment had a chance of being modified with the Carter-Obama alliance.

Which is what makes the new Jay track so intriguing. He was raw. He was hostile. He lets loose on politicians. He puts Obama on the spot. He rapped as if he had immunity for whatever his lyrics might bring in return. If that wasn’t enough to make Obama stakeholders tense and Rush Limbaugh engorged, this beauty came:

Yo Obama said, ‘chill, you gonna get me impeached.’ But you don’t need this shit anyway, chill with me on the beach.

As artists, Bey and Jay have a right to remain true to their art, their expression, and people have a right to criticize. But what are the grounds of this criticism?

Is it really about the president doing his job without being hit with distracting questions? Or is it an inherent class issue, the refined and polished Obamas being sullied by the brash and irreverent Carters?

Senators and Representatives are going to impede progress regardless of the bill if it doesn’t serve their constituents’ interests. Cuba, Bow Down, Open Letter, Illuminati videos…those won’t be the reasons policies fall through and never get implemented.

But let more than a few tell it, Jay-Z is the corrupting influence among Obama’s camp. These people must not be paying attention.

Local elected officials deserve most the attention to ensure educational resources, protect citizens and encourage growth around you. Not the skybox or $45K-a-plate dinners hosted by the Carters for their president.

But Jay-Z and Beyonce can move a crowd with powerful words and rhythms, Monsanto can’t, which is why the former gets the criticism the latter seems to miss. With so much going on the ground, looking too much at the building could prove regretful.


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