Presidential race gives artists a reason to collaborate

It’s not hard to notice that many hip-hop artists don’t see eye to eye these days. Beef between rappers is big business, and that could mean more album sales for each artist. The only problem is it gets worse and more senseless every year, as American media gives it big coverage. My question is, why is it that the Fat Joe-50 Cent beef gets more coverage on BET and MTV than KRS-One’s “Stop the Violence” campaign?

Artists aren’t always on the same page until they reach a common place. In 2008, that place is Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Some of the brightest stars in hip-hop, as well as some newcomers to the public eye, are supporting Obama in ‘08. Fortunately, there’s no huge gimmick involved (see Diddy’s “Vote or Die” fiasco) — it’s simply a bunch of MCs getting together and using their talents to show support for the Democratic hopeful.

Hip-hop veteran Talib Kweli recently wrote an open letter of support for Obama. The Brooklyn MC, who said he hasn’t voted since Bill Clinton was in office, wrote, “I support Barack Obama and encourage others to take a real look at his campaign so they can come to their own conclusions. I am not delusional about what the office of the president represents, but my support for him is just that, support for someone speaking my language amidst an ocean of double-talk.”

Following suit, of the Black Eyed Peas recorded a song and shot a music video called “Yes We Can,” which featured cameos from Common, John Legend and what looks and sounds like a singing Scarlett Johansson, among others. Q-Tip, from the legendary hip-hop crew A Tribe Called Quest, has come forward saying that Obama will be featured on his next album. No word yet on what Obama will be contributing to the album, but I can only hope he won’t be rapping.

Not only are the most famous of the “conscious” hip-hoppers endorsing Obama, but Bun B of the Texas hip-hop group UGK recently recorded a track with underground favorites Kidz In the Hall called “Work To Do.” Bun B also said hip-hop DJ and mix-tape kingpin DJ Green Lantern was putting together an official “Barack Obama Mix Tape.”

It’s great to see so many artists getting together to support a positive cause rather than continuing to enforce the public’s stereotypes that hip-hop is dangerous, violent and degrading. It’s also great to see these artists working outside of their own circles. Bun B has recorded with the likes of Jay-Z, Outkast and Rick Ross but has now added Kidz In the Hall, who are virtually unknown to the mainstream hip-hop crowd, to his resume.

Whether you plan on voting Democratic or Republican, whether you plan on voting for Hillary Clinton or Obama, or whether you don’t plan on voting at all, follow the example these artists are setting, and stand up for a cause you’re passionate for.

Landon Antonetti is an undecided sophomore and production director at WRFL. E-mail [email protected].