Barack Obama loved hip-hop more openly than ever in 2016.
Last night was a solemn affair, as Barack Obama took the stage in Chicago, giving his final address to the nation as Commander-In-Chief. Whether you're an elitist Liberal or a right-wing Internet troll, the event was a touching affair, leaving much to be lamented moving forward with these United States. President Obama was hip-hop's president, a fact on the ground since Jeezy's 2008 anthem hit the streets, and we here at HNHH are most definitely sad to see him go.
Back in December 2015, we brought you a list of the Obama family's greatest hip-hop moments, spanning Barack's entire presidency up until that point. Looking back on that list, with moments like "Obama makes a Jay Z joke" and "Obama shouts out Young Jeezy," we don't think any of us were prepared for the Obama of 2016. This past year, the POTUS so wholeheartedly embraced hip-hop culture, we began taking it for granted when rappers would be at official US Government events. Back in the day, this was a big deal. See below.
Without further ado, flip through the gallery above to see President Obama's top hip-hop moments from his final year in office, and let us know what we may have missed in the comments below.
January 15, 2016: Obama Settles The Kendrick vs. Drake Debate Once And For All
As we mentioned in the intro to this piece, Obama's hip-hop literacy has largely been proven by all the s/o's he's given to popular artists of the genre. But as we know, hip-hop is about competition more than anything, and the eternal barbershop debate about TOP 5 TOP 5 TOP 5. In January, during a special YouTube interview, President Obama was asked who he thinks would win a battle - Drizzy or Kdot? Here was his response:
"Gotta go with Kendrick ... I’m just saying. I think Drake is an outstanding entertainer but Kendrick, his lyrics, his last album was outstanding. Best album I think last year."
Sorry Mr. October, it's an executive order. Check that out below at the 17:08 mark.
April 16, 2016: Obama Invites Every Poppin' Rapper To The White House To Discuss Criminal Justice Reform
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Rappers hanging out in The White House mostly doesn't seem crazy anymore because of this one specific event, when a shit ton of rappers were brought to the Oval Office to hang out with Barack and discuss criminal justice reform, an issue hip-hop's been discussing since the genre began existing. The event was not heavily publicized, and among those attending were J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, DJ Khaled, Ludacris, Timbaland, Common, Busta Rhymes, Wale, Pusha T, and Rick Ross.
A story that has since surfaced from the meeting comes from Chance The Rapper, who said that Obama took him aside after everyone else had left to tell him his music's too good to be given away for free. This would only be the start of their highly coveted friendship.
August 11, 2016: Obama Drops His Spotify Summer Playlists
Back in December 2015, Obama said that his favorite song of the year was Kendrick Lamar's "How Much A Dollar Cost," and despite that magnitude of that hip-hop victory, it didn't compare to the President's official summer playlists, posted to Spotify back in August. It was a two part ordeal, with a daytime version and a nighttime version, featuring Method Man, Common, Jay Z, Wale, Nas, among others.
The standout moment has to have come from Obama's "Songs For The Nighttime" playlist, specifically his audacious decision to include Chance The Rapper's "Acid Rain." It's an incredible song without a doubt, but it's also explicitly about dropping acid. And of course Chano responded.
I'm honored that our President would include in his summer playlist BUT THE FACT THAT HE PICKED ACID RAIN 😳😳😭😭💯💯⛽️🅰🆖 https://t.co/M2ypVhCQFA
October 19, 2016: Frank Ocean Does His First Interview In Years At White House State Dinner
ZACH GIBSON/Getty Images
Frank Ocean is a habitual hermit, a superstar musician who is somehow able to evade the public from knowing his whereabouts for many months at a time. Just after releasing Blonde, Ocean made the rarest of appearances as one of the President's guests at a White House State Dinner for the Italian Prime Minister. Among the other stars attending were Jerry Seinfeld, Gwen Stefani, and Lil Chano from 79th.
Pulling up to the event with his momma, rocking a fly pair of Vans, Frank Ocean did a spontaneous 90-second interview, his first in nearly three years. Among the topics discussed were whether he intended to stump for Hillary Clinton (nope), what he intended to say to Obama tonight (congrats), and why he was wearing Vans (not entirely sure). Check out the interview below, and cherish it. We imagine we'll be waiting another three years for the next one. Thanks Obama.
October 22, 2016: President Obama Hosts A BET Block Party On The South Lawn
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
A few days after the Frank Ocean-attended state dinner, President Obama hosted what was probably the craziest White House party in American history. BET’s “Love and Happiness” event was hosted on the South Lawn, and attended by the likes of Usher, Questlove, Janelle Monae, Dave Chappelle, De La Soul, Bell Biv Devoe, Jill Scott, Michelle Williams and Common. Check out this video below to understand the kind of party it was.
The event was made into a televised event on BET, and will forever live grandly in the FOMO Hall Of Fame.
To understand the impact of this event, we'll let Dave Chappelle do the talking, who discussed what it mean to him during his opening monologue for Saturday Night Live, the first episode following Donald Trump's victory. Here's what he said:
"You know, before I go, I do want to say one thing, and this is not a joke. But I think it’s important that I say this, ’cause they’re marching up the street right now as we speak.
A few weeks ago I went to the White House for a party. It was the first time I’ve been there in many years and it was very exciting. And BET sponsored the party, so everyone there was black. And it was beautiful. I walked through the gates — you know, I’m from Washington, so I saw the bus stop, or the corner where the bus stop used to be, where I used to catch the bus to school and dream about nights like tonight.
It was a really, really beautiful night. At the end of the night everyone went into the West Wing of the White House and it was a huge party. And everybody in there was black — except for Bradley Cooper, for some reason.
And on the walls were pictures of all the presidents, of the past. Now, I’m not sure if this is true, but to my knowledge the first black person that was officially invited to the White House was Frederick Douglass. They stopped him at the gates. Abraham Lincoln had to walk out himself and escort Frederick Douglass into the White House, and it didn’t happen again, as far as I know, until Roosevelt was president. Roosevelt was president, he had a black guy over and got so much flack from the media that he literally said, 'I will never have a nigger in this house again.'
I thought about that, and I looked at that black room, and saw all those black faces, and Bradley, and I saw how happy everybody was. These people who had been historically disenfranchised. It made me feel hopeful and it made me feel proud to be an American and it made me very happy about the prospects of our country.
So, in that spirit, I’m wishing Donald Trump luck. And I’m going to give him a chance, and we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one too."
President Obama will be missed, but something tells us that as the shit hits the fan probably on day one of the Trump administration, the first African-American Commander-In-Chief will still be around, fighting for his country. Hip-hop ya don't stop.