Young Jeezy feat. Nas — “My President”

Released: 11.15.08

Peak: #53

Hip-hop had good reason to mistrust Barack Obama and good reason to rap about him. “My President” strikes the right balance between pride and skepticism, acknowledging the historical importance of the 2008 presidential election while insisting that the grind goes on. When Jeezy commands the nation “We ready for damn change, so y’all let the man shine,” he may be as vague as Obama himself about what he means by that “c” word. But when Henny and Dow Jones of Tha Bizness pump up the keyboard pomp like the musical directors at the world’s most stately roller rink, the grandeur is, for once, appropriate to the moment.

Jeezy’s “Put On” was a more straightforward street anthem, and, according to many who distrust the self-conscious air of significance pumping throuh “My President,” a better track – in rap as in sports, hometown pride is one of the few hints of emotional vulnerability non-pussies are permitted to express. But for all the pizzazz of Drummer Boy’s slasher-flick synth figures, Jeezy had already covered this lyrical ground with “My Hood,” and Kanye’s self-involved Auto-whine detracts from the message of solidarity.

Nas’s “Black President” was more straightforward too, slapping down Tupac’s pessimistic “We’re not ready to have a black president” with an interpolation of Obama’s “Yes We Can” slogan chant. But Nas’s verse on “My President” is more reserved in its support, leading with “No president ever did shit for me” and continuing to lecture Obama on the need to maintain integrity. It was left to Jay-Z, appropriately, to turn “My President” into a full celebration on the post-election remix — the sentimentality of “Barack Obama ran so all the children could fly” falls just this side of will.i.am’s effective partisan kitsch on “Yes We Can.’ As for Jeezy himself, his original coda makes clear Obama’s importance to him. I don’t know how much he knows about Jackie Robinson and Booker T. Washington, not to mention Obama. But he knows they’re black. And he knows that matters.

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