Asking who a Chicago rapper supports in this election reminds me of a scene from the movie Head of State, in which Chris Rock plays the first black presidential candidate. In one scene, a roving reporter asks people on the street whether they’re voting for Rock’s character, Mays Gilliam, or his white Republican opponent.
“Who the f--- you think I’m votin’ for?” says a man in cornrows standing in front of his brick flat with two children.
It would be impossible to invent a more pro-Obama demographic than young, African-American Chicago entertainer. But it turns out that not all Chicago rappers are pro-Obama.
Here was Rhymefest, who ran for 20th Ward alderman last year, comparing Wednesday night’s debate to a rap battle:
"However if I had to describe the debate between Romney and Pres.Obama I'd put it in Battle Rap Terms. Obama showed last night he's not a battle MC he's more of a song writer/performer. Romney doesn't have great raps but has stage presence. If it was a rap battle Obama spit some written stuff when he needed to be able to go off the top. Romney lied & didn't get countered. Romney had a dope flow. Obamas Lyrics were technical. Romney looked Obama in the eye Obama dropped his head he didn't look like a champ. Mitt knocked Obamas hat off, looked around the room and said that Barack was a lie & we shouldn't believe anything he says."
(Rhymefest once defeated Eminem in a rap battle. But Eminem went on to sell more records. That analogy should encourage Obama supporters.)
In 2008, Common gave a testimonial for Obama on will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” video. He’d already mentioned the candidate on his song “The People,” rapping “My raps unite the people like Obama. After being invited to perform at a White House poetry event, Common said of Obama, “I think that he's a very intelligent and wonderful human being. He understands that hip-hop is expression and about individuals. And I don’t think he's an individual who's going to let what other people think of him change his perspective. And those are the type of people that I highly respect. The hip-hop community is part of America, so the fact that he embraces it means he’s embracing young America, Americans abroad and people in other places. I love that he cares.”
In May, Twista, who contributed to “Waiting to Change the World” on Yes We Can (The Mixtape), tweeted this very un-hip-hop detail about Obama’s job performance: “Obama sees first monthly budget surplus of presidency in April http://huff.to/IAhM2Y via @HuffPostPol”
And when Obama came home to Chicago for his birthday, Kid Sister tweeted, “obama having his 50th at aragon brawlroom, how I love that man.”
But it turns out not every Chicago rapper loves that man. Lupe Fiasco called Obama a “terrorist” for ordering drone attacks in Afghanistan: “One hand, you have someone who is a great speaker, but kills little children—our president,” Lupe told Philadelphia’s Power 99 radio station. “I’m talking about ordering a drone attack. Ordering drone attacks that go and kill mothers, innocent bystanders, children. Militants, too, but the collateral damage. You’re responsible for that, too. Drug dealers can say the same thing. ‘I didn’t mean to kill all the people in the restaurant. I was just trying to get that one dude who killed my cousin. Just so happened that that little girl was there.’ Same thing.”
There’s an exception to every rule.