One of my favorite things about Obama’s presidential run is that on the official White House website, there’s a blog post of the president’s summer playlist. A song list that divides his daytime and nighttime tunes, and includes Wale, Leon Bridges, Janelle Monáe, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, D’Angelo, Chance the Rapper, and Fiona Apple.
The next four years is going to be unpredictable and probably frightening, and we may never get another president that connects politics and pop culture in the way Obama did. In honor of the end of Obama’s presidency, here are some of our favorite hip-hop references of the 44th president of the United States.
Over a decade before Obama became the president of the United States, Tupac—in his first posthumous single off the “R U Still Down? (Remember Me)” album in 1997—asked the question of whether America was ready to have a black president. The famous line would be interpolated in 2008 by Nas on “Black President,” who used it to speak about the hope that Obama’s election would bring.
“And though it seems heaven-sent, we ain’t ready to have a black President.” Tupac – I Wonder If Heaven Got A Ghetto
“I think Obama provides hope and challenges and minds of all races and color to erase the hate.” Nas – Black President
“I beat the case, not enough evidence / get ready to see a black President.” Jadakiss – New York Minute (Remix)
At Obama’s 2008 election victory speech, he famously declared “It’s been a long time coming, but… change has come to America,” which was its own music reference as it was an allusion to Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” The themes of change and optimism dominated the early years of Obama’s presidential campaign and has lasted throughout his eight years in office. These themes were also reflected in many of the lyrics during Obama’s two terms.
“Mr. Obama, we so tired of sellin’ crack / if you lookin’ for me, ask the streets where I’m at.” —“I Run,” Slim Thug
“From Englewood to a single hood in Botswana, I see the ‘I’ in ‘We’ my n—-, yours is my drama / Standing in front of the judge with no honor, my raps ignite the people like Obama.” —“The People,” Common
“What is change? Change is Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Shakespeare, Tupac Shakur, Barack Obama.” —“Changes,” Common
“Yes we can to justice and equality, yes we can to opportunity and prosperity, yes we can heal this nation, yes we can repair this world, yes we can.” —“Yes We Can,” will.i.am
“You know how the Pimp be, that n—- gon’ speak his mind, if he could speak down from heaven, he’d tell me stay on my grind, tell him ‘I’m doing fine,” Obama for mankind, we ready for damn change so y’all let the man shine.” —“My President,” Young Jeezy
The election of Obama was also a cause for celebration. A highlight: Soulja Boy equating seeing a black president and living in a residence that costs $20 million.
“In ’09, pace yourself for that drama, get your llamas and might I add, y’all toast to Obama.” —“Ain’t No Sunshine,” Theophilus London
“Speak to the people like Barack Obama.” —“Say Something,” Talib Kweli
“Fresh as a black president, one, Air Force Ones in my Air Force 1 (Obama!)” —“Rockin’ That Shit (Remix),” Rick Ross
“I lived to see a black president, I lived to see a 20 million dollar residence.” —“Country Boy,” Soulja Boy
“I smoke doja, you smoke Folgers, flame it up and now you’re dizzy, hit Obama, told him I’ma pick him up and he said, really?” —“Obama,” Chief Keef
The election of Obama as president wasn’t met with unprecedented approval in the hip-hop community. There was the infamous footage of Obama calling Kanye West a jackass and the very outspoken Lupe Fiasco declaring Obama a terrorist in an interview.
“They say I was the abomination of Obama’s nation, well that’s a pretty bad way to start the conversation.” —“Power,” Kanye West
“Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit, that’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either.” —“Words I Never Said,” Lupe Fiasco
The operation to finally track down and kill Osama bin Laden expectedly made world headlines in May 2011. Even before that, there were plenty of lyrical references to the Al-Qaeda leader in hiding.
“My life crazy like Obama’s, you talk slick well I’m Osama Bin Laden, what’s happenin’ I get it cracking.” —“Lord Lord Lord,” Swizz Beatz
“I call that bitch affirmation action, Oreo, The Obama, curtains drawn they can’t see me, Osama.” —“Maybach Music 2,” Jay Z
“Barack Obama but the only n—- that can catch Osama.” —“Hard Times,” The Game
The pop culture world was also fascinated by Barack and Michelle. The first lady of the United States garnered plenty of name-drops in the hip-hop community as well.
“And tell Michelle I got my eye on Barack Obama.” —“Mind On My Money,” Nicki Minaj
“You would think I ran the world like Michelle’s husband.” —“Forever,” Drake
“I can be Barack and let you be Michelle.” —“Flight School,” GLC
“She looked like she get it from her momma, that’s right Michelle, I’m Obama.” —“2getha Baby,” Ghostface Killa
Jay and Beyoncé are close to Obama. As he transitioned into the next phase of his career, Jay dropped his Michael Jordan references and exchanged them for something more presidential.
“It’s Ms. No More Drama and Barack Obama of rhymers.” —“You’re All Welcome,” Jay Z
“Obama said ‘Chill, you’re going to get me impeached / You don’t need this shit anyway, chill with me on the beach.'” —“Open Letter,” Jay Z
“Got a black president, got green presidents.” —“Off That,” Jay Z
“I rock with Obama but I ain’t no politician.” —“Jockin’ Jay Z,” Jay Z
“Drinking quarter waters, I gotta be the best / M.J. at Summer Jam, Obama on the text / Y’all should be afraid of what I’m gon’ do next.” —“On to the Next One,” Jay Z