“And that was the spirit of their music - the sound of Soulsville, U.S.A., a music that, at its core, is about the pain of being alone, the power of human connection, and the importance of treating each other right. And it's the music that challenged us to accept new ways of thinking with four timeless words: 'Can you dig it?'" - President Obama at the In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul
America dug it alright, as our commander-in-chief Obama embodied the soul of America. Remixing politics with tunes, chords, and songs with equality, hope, and love, he got the older generation to listen, while he made references and showed his appreciation to what they all grew up on: jazz, gospel, blues, and R&B. He never shied away from the undeniable fact that American music was birthed from African American culture.
On the same note, he was able to reintroduce the history of American music to newer generations and millennials. Obama transformed the 90's reference of, “Parents (in this case presidents) just don’t understand” stigma to our "President is hip."
Case in point, artists like Kendrick Lamar performed for Obama during his July 4 party, and Wale became the first rapper to open the State of the Union address; he very well may be the last. Obama also mimicked a move that was made popular by Jay Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” and used it in his 2008 primary speech.
Hip-Hop artists of this volume were never given an invitation to show their support for their country with a personal welcome to the White House. Obama changed that and opened them to “his house,” as many came for the My Brother’s Keepers Initiative. Artists such as Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, J. Cole, Busta Rhymes, Pusha T had the opportunity to have a positive national platform to show support for the future of America through outreach programs, mentorship and tpush to keep kids out of the criminal justice system.
President Obama was able to bridge many gaps through his likeability, from low-middle class to those untouchable A-list stars, improved community activism, encouraged women and minorities, and seemed to speak for everyone. He used musicians to get social and economic topics that addressed student loans, education, youth empowerment, gay marriage, gender equality and race equality. Even when it got tough, it was an all-American 8-year music party.
“Face it, who does not love this music? These songs get us on the dance floor."
Others argue that Obama was a wanna-be celebrity, but he was more than that. He used the power of celebrity to further whatever call for action he wanted to highlight in our country. He cleverly adopted the idea of Austin’s SXSW and brought it back to the Nation’s Capitol and called it his SXSL.
In his time in the office, he reemphasized the diverse impact that African American influence had on genres from spiritual gospel to the migration of the blues, starting in the south of Mississippi to Memphis and ending in Chicago to the Jazz Age, James Brown Funk, Disco, House Music, and Battle-Rhyming Hip-Hop. He showed the world his music taste and expressed his love for Stevie Wonder as it frequented Obama's iPod in 2008. His debut Daytime and Nighttime Spotify playlists added piquancy and elevated his status of a casual music listener to a music connoisseur.
Obama many not have been able to strike a chord with all of America.
Obama kept his cool in the face of so many challenges. Embracing his black roots and welcoming hip-hop into the White House has been an uplifting and drastic difference from presidents of the past. One of his most notable moments has been the use of the legendary hip-hop mic drop. Many people may have seen the mic-drop as simply a pop-culture moment and it signified his connection to the roots of music.
Obama successfully used music as the most powerful art form of expression. He took to the mic and music to inform political and informative messages and aired his personal candor. We've put together our favorite Obama moments below as we experience the exchange of presidency between the 44th and 45th president. Journey down memory lane as we highlight America’s musical maestro, President Barack Obama. All we can say from Magnetic is- Thank you for bringing back the essence of soul music as we may never see this much soul at the White House again.
It all began in 2012 at a New York fundraiser party- when the #POTUS took his message to the mic musically, belting out in perfect key, “I am so in love with you,” a lyric from Al Green’s, “Let’s Stay Together.”
Then Obama sings a popular Chicago blues anthem with B.B King, “Home Sweet Chicago” at the In Performance at the White House: Red, White, and Blues.
His campaign from the start took the Social Media Age by the reigns. Obama made TV guest appearances on daytime and late night shows that displayed his unique taste and appreciation for music. From there, Obama appeared on “Slow Jams” with Fallon, delivered a serious issue of student loans and education, upped his cool factor and targeted the younger generation’s vote. The Roots accompanied Jimmy and Obama with a smooth R&B ballad.
The second time around in 2016, Obama joined Fallon as he sung in a Barry White voice. He also managed to get in some digs to Hillary and Trump, all while keeping his presidential composure.
Obama led the crowd in “What’d I Say” in a Ray Charles Tribute at the White House.
He became our “Commander-in-Preach” with Amazing Grace.
After a few crowd participation and sing-a-longs Preezy of the United Steezy went viral, a Youtube user named @baracksdubs, spliced up Obama’s words from previous speeches that resulted in singing popular commercial hits.
…And let’s not forget that Obama lived in Chicago where he learned to appreciate the underground vibe and original sound of house music.
These songs get us on the dance floor," Obama said. "They get stuck in our heads. We go back over them again and again. And they've played an important part in our history."-Obama on International Jazz Day
Obama and Michelle sent their respect and condolences to house music godfather, Frankie Knuckles’ family and friends. He also invited the Chosen Few, a collective of Chicago house DJs that were the first to popularize and promote house music. (Jesse Saunders Wayne Williams, Mike Dunn, Tony and Andre Hatchett, Alan King, and Terry Hunter)
And we can’t forget Michelle’s Car Karaoke featuring Missy Elliot with James Corden...
A president can only have two terms and as Common said it best at the final White House concert, “I’m the C-O-M-M-O-N. Come on Obama- Let’s Do it Again!”- no one will never get tired of hitting the refresh button on YouTube or search the internet for all of the powerful, compelling orations given.
No one will ever forget Obama’s campaigns for the youth, innovation, civil rights for all but none of us will ever forget the attention he gave to what elevated his campaign, the music.