Hive Five: Great Moments in Hip-Hop Inspired by Presidents
Barack Obama

Barack Obama, a frequent subject of rap songs. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Barack Obama is the most hip-hop-friendly President to ever take the oath of office — at least if the number of rappers pledging allegiance to his cause is anything to go by. But while Obama’s been referenced in rap many a time, he’s not the only President to find himself the subject or inspiration of a hip-hop track. So in honor of the lazy day off work that is President’s Day, here’s a quintet of rapped salutes to the Commander-in-Chief.

1. Young Jeezy feat. Nas, “My President Is Black”

Trap star Jeezy’s tribute to Obama might not exactly be the most focused piece of political rap — Jeezy’s attention span for the subject deviates after only half a line as he follows up the declaration that “My president is black” by telling us that his Lamborghini comes in a natty shade of blue — but its titular slogan captured the hip-hop nation’s endorsement of the 44th president of the United States. Closing out the song, guest rapper Nas then asserts his membership of that millionaire’s 30% tax bracket club: “Mr. Black President, yo, Obama for real/ They gotta put your face on the five thousand dollar bill.” [Listen here.]

2. Steinski & the Mass Media, “The Motorcade Sped On”

Cut-and-paste scientist Steve Stein’s recap of the JFK assassination is a marvel of smartly-sourced sampling. Adhering to the timeline of the shooting, snippets of news broadcasts and interviews are pieced together to create the funkiest ever report on the tragic incident. Upping the nerd factor, the song was originally given away as a free 7-inch with UK music rag the NME. [Listen here.]

3. Non-Phixion, “I Shot Reagan”

Rappers have never been shy about referencing Ronnie in their raps — and usually it involves invoking his name as part of the backdrop of the ’80s crack epidemic. Referring to his days slangin’ rock, wholesome new father Jay-Z declared, “Blame Reagan for making me into a monster/ Blame Oliver North and Iran-Contra/ I ran contraband that they sponsored.” But few rappers have, ahem, taken aim at the ’80s prez quite like the Ill Bill-led Non-Phixion quartet, who coined the charming indie rap anthem “I Shot Reagan” back in ’98. [Listen here.]

4. Paris, “Bush Killa”

Mos Def and Immortal Techniqe headed up a pack of rappers taking umbrage at George W. Bush’s stay in office, with the duo’s “Bin Laden” track calling him out as a “professional liar,” but before that the original President Bush was the subject of a fantasy assassination by Bay Area firebrand Paris. On “Bush Killa,” he declares that “all I wanna see is motherfuckin’ brains hanging” after literally taking aim at the President who presided over the Gulf war. The song’s sentiment was so controversial at the time it caused Paris’s record label, Tommy Boy, to refuse to release the album that housed it. [Listen here.]

5. The Honey Drippers, “Impeach the President”

Not a hip-hop song per se, but ’70s funky soul outfit the Honey Drippers’ song about Nixon’s Watergate shenanigans has been sampled by effectively every rapper of note — Nas, N.W.A., Biggie, De La Soul, Run-DMC and a slew more have all nabbed parts of its tough opening drum loop. Listening to the track now, it’s still proof positive that it’s possible to be political without losing your swagger. [Listen here.]

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