June 6th, 2008
07:24 PM ET
2 years ago

Rapper Nas hypes Obama in "Black President"

Nas slams John McCain in his new rap single.
Nas slams John McCain in his new rap single.

(CNN) – Barack Obama made a splash in the hip-hop world last summer when his name showed up as a lyric in two singles from Common and Talib Kweli.

Then came the online mega-hit “Yes We Can” by Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas, who artfully re-mixed Obama’s New Hampshire election night speech into a star-studded music video that racked up millions of views on video-sharing Web sites.

Big-name performers like Jay-Z, T.I. and 50 Cent have all endorsed Obama, and Mos Def even campaigned for him before the North Carolina primary.

Now that Obama has secured the Democratic nomination, a new mix tape is making waves on the Internet - “Black President,” from the New York-based rapper Nas and DJ Green Lantern.

The song opens with a memorable line from Obama’s victory speech in Iowa (“They said this day would never come”), and then dips into a sample from Tupac Shakur’s 1998 hit “Changes” (“We ain’t ready to have a black president”).

The track’s chorus quickly counters Tupac’s decade-old lament with a sing-songy take on Obama’s campaign mantra – “Yes we can/change the world!”

Nas, apparently, is a campaign news junkie. The song slams Obama’s former spiritual mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright with the lyric, “You ain’t right, Jeremiah/Wrong pastor.”

He also accuses John McCain of pandering during his April visit to Memphis on the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s murder, when McCain apologized for his 1983 vote against a federal King holiday: “We ain’t falling for the same traps standing on the balconies/Where they shot the King at/McCain got apologies/Ain’t nobody hearing that/People need honesty.”

Nas’s rhymes are, at moments, optimistic: “I think Obama provides hope and challenges minds of all races and colors to erase the hate/And try to love one another/So many political snakes.”

But it’s clear he remains cynical about the political process, wondering if Obama will remain true to his convictions and tackle issues facing inner-cities and the prison system if elected. “When he wins, will he really care still?” Nas asks.

According to MTV News, “Black President” will be released on Nas’ upcoming LP, due out in July.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Isa

    First off, to Shawn T: Do you really know Nas as a Hip Hop artist? If you knew Nas' reputation, you would know that his, music throughout his career (which is almost two decades), discussed issue like this. He's the only rap artist who CONSISTENTLY dared to be critical toward the U.S.about Blacks, not like these other wack artist you hear about. So, if any artist were to make a song related to this subject, it would be no other than him. I'm not trying to be facetious or sarcastic, I just perceived you made a comment without having any knowledge of Nas' reputation.

    Second to Alecki: In short, all I have to say is what you typed is ignorant Obama never bought up race unless it was about interracial unity. Don't you remember what Clinton (Hillary & Bill) said throughout N.H. & S.C.?
    He still has more white votes than he has of any other demographic that voted for him. Guess what? He will regain the White vote because people are tired of the divisions.
    Individuals were so quick to get mad over comments he didn't make (i.e. Wright, Clintons, Pfleger etc.) he was forced to respond. Sure its okay to get mad at the "typical white people" or "bitterness" comments, but the typical white people comment was partially true, Americans just don't like hearing the truth. The "bitterness" talk was his only Authentic Gaffe. You let Pundits and Conservative/Republicans in the media sway your thought process to think other than an analysis of what you could come of with. SAD. And guess what? He may not bring the world together, but he's the best candidate to even make it possible. According to your statements (because I really don't know you) it's people like you that will keep the world divided.

    Finally INDEPENDENCE DAY: I am Black and I don't feel my hand gesture should meet any standard, especially since you're talking about the Majority (European Americans) standards! Its a shame that your closed minded. I actually cheered when she did that. Do you know why? Because Michelle or Barack Obama don't have to change their lifestyles to match into a white standard society. They are authentic! It is you who have to change your thinking that all races must acculturate into the White Euro standards

    June 6, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  2. RB

    Nas using Pac verse – wow now that is really different since Pac and Nas did not like each other. Of course he did run it for a cash pay out on Thugz Mansion a few years ago too. Nas is a great rapper but always looking to make a buck off someone else. But his point on Obana is well taken – we shall see

    June 6, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  3. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This is great to see our young people so involved in politics because they are our future. Obama gives our young people hope for peace while John McCain can only talk about sending them to war.

    June 6, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  4. TPnTN

    Alecki..

    If CNN and the rest of the media did not think talking about race would scare you and people who think like you away from Obama, they would not make it a point to put it in your face...all the time...everyday! It would not be their selling point. So why do you spew hate? Oh is to spread and encourage your divisive nature? Shame on you!!!

    Does spreading hate elevate you? I am certain God frowns on such behavior because he emphasizes loving your neighbor as yourself. WWJD

    Please stop the hate! It is better for others to speculate on your ignorance, than for you to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

    June 6, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  5. Charles Nilston,FRANCE

    WOW!Are you serious!!!!Roll out but please the musics should be void of the raw hip pop words.Mccain's camp are looking for things to use as an attack,everyone needs to be careful please.YES WE CAN!!

    June 6, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  6. joe m

    obama is more about being black or being a democrat. it would be nice if these hollywood types get this.

    June 6, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  7. JeffRob

    I think most of America still does not realize the sway Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Nas, Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco, The Roots and other intelligent, thoughtful hip-hop artists have over the youth of America. And their message is incredibly peaceful, unifying and encouraging self-improvement in all of us. If you think it's all just "Rap music", you're not paying attention.
    Rap – Lies = hip-hop

    Alecki: "He has fought to bring us apart." Who have you been watching? What candidate are you talking about? Because surely you have not listened to a word Barack Obama has said. Otherwise, you clearly have a problem with his skin color. Disagree with his policies, and that's one thing. To claim he's dividing America, you're either high on something or deaf, blind and dumb.

    Independence Day: The "fist bump" between Michelle and Barack is being heralded nationwide as utterly endearing, and proof that they are just like the rest of us. I would say it shows that they are more Kennedy-esque, not less. Michelle Obama is as close to Jackie O as we've seen since, well, Jackie O.

    President Barack Obama! 'bout time!

    June 6, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  8. Voting Obama

    All you idiots making dumb comments obviously know nothing about Nas. He is one of the greatest lyrists alive. All he did was make a song! Im telling you stop hating vot e Obama!! Its not about black or white. It is about the USA!! Dems lets make it happen and shut all these ignorant folkz up!! I am tired of there BS.

    It is a song. He is only referring to the African American history. Read a book and see what the race been through then you will understand.

    June 6, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  9. rachel

    Yeah people want it both ways. As and African American I can honestly say that many of my family members voted for him just cause he was black and thats a shame. I say he doesnt get the claim as beign the first african american president because he's mixed or does his blackness over shadow his whiteness? I think obama has bitten off more than he can chew and I am so through with people saying hillary is power hungry. She spent 7 years in the senate before persuing the presidency, this guy spent 18 months if that is not power hungry I dont know what is.

    June 6, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  10. Karen in Fla

    Oh yeah – a bunch of rappers are going to convince me to vote for Obama – NOT.

    I am confused, as are others, why he considers himself "The First Black Candidate". Excuse me, didn't we hear ALL about that White Grandmother? Shouldn't he be the "First Bi-Racial Candidate"?

    Sure seems like he is ashamed of his white heritage. Instead of celebrating both sides of his heritage he chooses to ignore one half. Why don't his supporters see that he is divisive as is his wife? His supporters are the ones to rant and rave about anyone with a differing opinion than theirs. His supporters are the ones that started calling for Hillary to drop out MONTHS before the primary was finished. Why is it his supporters react so strongly and negatively towards ANYONE who questions him in the least?

    Guess what – there are going to be a LOT of questions coming up over the next few months so you'd better get used to it. And if the scandals of the last few months are any indicator – you will have to stop acting like he and his wife are squeaky clean.

    June 6, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  11. melikeyhill

    obama is half white /half black, some white rappers need to rap about obama tooo!!!!

    June 6, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  12. Truth

    I just wish those rappers (with an exception of Common and Talib) would do somethings more postive. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with them endorsing Obama, but at least...through their music they can do something more postive-make somebody want to endorse them. I'm tired of the crap they rap about–it does nothing positve for anyone. Rap about something worth listening to and people can be uplifted by.

    June 6, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  13. Black Dude

    NAS does not have a clue what is going on. Thanks for showing the world how ignorant you are. Go back to sleep, go home because no one wants to hear that trash.

    NAS = Never Again Speak

    June 6, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  14. ChicoSez

    Rap music is basically anti-women so it is no surprise that rappers would want another black man rather than a white woman. When did the dem party become comfortable with sexism? Not once did the dem party come to HRC's defense. So I have left the dem party. And I really have been a dem for the last 38 years.

    June 6, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  15. Sifa

    Independence day, what the hell are you talking about? there was nothing wrong with that. I am sure that a bunch of you out there who did not want Obama to begin with will find any reason to disgrace him.

    June 6, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  16. An American

    Look at CNN getting so fresh and hip. First with the word boo now this?

    June 6, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  17. O-blah-ma

    Yo yooooo Rappers – keep it up homies. Between yo raps and Obama's brush-off moves – non-black America will vote NO to turning the White House into a Ghetto crib.

    This isn't MTV folks – it the highest office of our proud Nation.

    June 6, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  18. Dedrick from Atlanta (in Portland)

    To INDEPENDENCE DAY:

    You should re-watch the video you are speaking about. First of all Obama did not give Michelle a pat on the butt, he touched her back. Secondly, if Michelle cannot be excited about this historic moment, then when can she? Hell I was jumping for joy that this great nation is beginning to make a change and beginning to view people for who they are and for what they stand for regardless of race.

    You sound like one for the few that are stuck in time and are looking for any reason at all to not support a candidate of color.

    June 6, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  19. Mark Kahle

    Sorry all, I am a white american male thats almost 34 years old, and Barack Obama has never disinfranchised me, I am a loyal supporter of him and his administration, and will be until he is sworn in as the next president of the United States of America!...

    He truly fills me with hope as we move forward into the future with this country. I am looking forward to him taking the oath of the office.

    He also embodies what we all strive for, and what we all dream of, we all wish for this country to be great, and that we may lead fulfilling, and productive lives, and soon we will all see and feel the changes to our great country.

    Obama 08'
    DEMOCRATS 08'

    June 6, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  20. K

    CNN...let's try this again

    Funny...I remember when Obama launched his candidacy, he was shunned by an overwhelming majority of blacks because he was raised by a white mother and grandparents, and was supported by young white voters, he couldn't possibly know the "black experience" and therefore was not black enough.
    When his candidacy took off and he became the media darling, touted by the all-knowing Oprah and every other "informed and enlightened" Hollywood celebrity the black communities thought, hey, this guy might actually have a shot, then all of the sudden he became the product of an African father and "whats-her-name". We won't even get into the white grandmother comments that he himself made...because after all, this is not supposed to be about his race, so he says...we'll let Michelle tackle that one!
    When his racist friends were exposed that appeared to elevate his stature in black communities even more and apparently "legitimized" his ethnicity.
    Now he is known as the black candidate who is losing the support of the whites who put him there, cuz guess what? He may not be too fond of you! I'm over it all...so over it and so disgusted by the whole circus!
    I hope your candidate does well and, if elected, does not disappoint you too much because white, black, or purple the guy will still have to cow-tow to the special interest groups that put him there...payback to them may not be beneficial to you!

    June 6, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  21. Cindy

    Obama is just inspiring, that's all. Some creative people are just putting it to song, that's all. Musicians have been inspired to put people and events in songs for generations... this is nothing new.

    Like celebrity endorsements, this doesn't mean all that much, it's just a point of interest. That's all there is to it. Interesting that Obama Girl's creativity was left off the story.

    June 6, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  22. Missy, South Carolina

    Obama can't stop rappers, singers and actor/actress from expressing their views on this candidancy. If people will let the process take place, we can have a very good democratic party. Now that Hillary supporters are stirring up so much mess like her campaign we will have the message of change but the same old politics as usual. It we are going to unite, then Hillary we will make a special song for you only if you truly deserve one. Stop and I beg you to stop sabotaging the democratic party.

    June 6, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  23. Democrats Love to Loose

    How does this help the divide?
    I am black and never let my children watch or listen to this expression, it is derogatory, demeaning, and for profit.

    White people, continue to be honest about how you feel on the blog. Black people, start being honest. Pushing a social agenda through the White House is never a good idea, the president needs to do the business of the people. Not the party they are affiliated with, not the race they are ascribed to, not the church they attend or religion the adhere to, the business of the people. All the people.

    Get real on the blog, stop quoted stump speeches and hold your candidate accountable. The rappers want to make money, they need press. They don't help Obama anymore they help you.

    signed,
    a black person.

    June 6, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  24. Matthew

    Song seems to be nice!

    NEW ENGLAND for OBAMA

    June 6, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  25. Mickey-Miami Gardens, Florida

    Some of you people are so jealous of Obama and Michelle. So what, if he pats his wife on her butt. Why don't you find someone one to spank your butt. I thought the gesture was very cute. My husband pats my behind it the public. After all, he paid for the marriage license, and I feel that my butt belong to him. I am sure that the way Obama feels.
    So people, 'get a life'

    June 6, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
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