Whatever your political persuasion, regardless of who you plan on casting your ballot for in less than a month there is no denying that pop culture and young voters will once again have a profound impact. And while it comes as little surprise that most hip-hop fans would categorize themselves as strictly Camp Democrat and pro-Obama, that is not to diminish the importance of this particular group or the people who influence it most. Case in point: Jay-Z.
Hova has never shied away from making his views–political or otherwise– well known, and has surrounded himself with some of the most powerful, agenda-setting figures in the world. President Barack Obama is no exception. Jay-Z and the Commander-in-Chief have had a surprisingly close friendship. Their wives have shared mutual admiration for one another, and one can only assume that Sasha and Malia might one day be providing their babysitter services for Blue Ivy. Sure, this makes for interesting headlines and provides Obama with a sense of “cool” and relevance that he simply wouldn’t be able to attract himself without a little celebrity help, but there is a much more important piece of this puzzle. Jay-Z and other hip-hop figures who have aligned themselves with Obama have helped to re-energize a constituency that may have lost some of the fervor it once had for this administration and the government at large. Though there has been more criticism this time around than there had been in 2008, the sheer fact that hip-hop artists and celebrities have continued to make their voices known in the presidential race will undoubtedly encourage more young people to take an active role in the democratic process this year.
While there is little debate that the swell of young voter excitement has definitely died down since 2008, I can’t help but think that the interest has not waned completely due in part to the political awareness and affinity for Obama that many of Hollywood’s elite have expressed. I know I may be in the minority of people who think hip-hop hasn’t completely fallen out of love with the nation’s first bi-racial president, but I truly believe that regardless of his shortcomings over the last four years and regardless of the disillusionment which has once again gripped this nation, hip-hop has largely stood by the president. Now, let’s only hope hip-hop continues to stand by him come election day.
Amanda Younger is a freelance writer and web producer based in New York City. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Time Out New York, SI.com, YourTango and FHM.com. Follow her on Twitter @ayounger45.