Kendrick Lamar's Oval Office Meeting with Barack Obama
K.Dot x POTUS talk hood politics and youth issues.
My interest in US Politics doesn't extend beyond waiting for Season Four of House of Cards to start, but from all reports Obama seems like a pretty cool cat - inviting The Black Keys to play at The White House, getting stuck into Snapchat, going on treks in Alaska with Bear Grylls, making a summer vacay Spotify playlist with Mary J Blige, Florence & The Machine, Talib Kweli & Hi Tek on it, proclaiming that his favourite song of 2015 was Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly emotional centrepiece 'How Much A Dollar Cost'.
In his track Hood Politics, Kendrick calls out for Obama - who won off the black vote - to make it count. We'd say an Oval Office meeting invite is a pretty great way to heed Kendrick's call to action...POTUS asked the Compton talent to hang at the Oval Office last October, while the TDE rapper was in town to perform at the Kennedy Center. When you think about this in terms of prior US governments / FBI who actively tried to bring rap groups such as the N.W.A. down and censor N.W.A.'s objections to police brutality, a president getting behind a rapper is a historical moment.
They were equally amazed at the meeting as we probably all are - the President was super sweet to Kendrick - according to senior Presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, he tried to put him at ease by treating the situation with humility, deferring to his own position as the first ever black President in the Oval Office:
"Kendrick came and he visited the president, and you know what the president said to him? [Because] he was a little nervous - bless his heart, he’s really a very nice young man, and the president said, "Can you believe that we’re both sitting in this Oval Office?"
The two discussed inner city problems and solutions, and how best to support and embrace America's youth (we reckon Obama probably fanboy'ed out a bit, too).
Above: Straight after this handshake, they fist-pumped.
Just recently, more info about what was discussed during this talk has come to light - Kendrick has posted a video, directed by Dave Meyers & The Little Homies, entitled Pay It Forward, on his Top Dawg Entertainment collective's vimeo page, where, over photos of himself and President Obama, he talks about mentorship, and encourages Americans to support the My Brother's Keeper initiative.
"As a kid, having a mentor was vital to me," says the Compton rapper in the video, "Always being there when it counted allowed me to make some of the most important decisions while growing up. So it’s only right that I mentor a younger person with the same wisdom that was given to me. If it helps the next kid become a better person in life, I will forever be aware of my influence and pay it forward. I look where I’m at today and realize that most of my success is owed to the mentors that was in my life.”
Watch the video below.
The cover of To Pimp A Butterfly features the rapper in front of the White House, in an energetic pose surrounded by a group of young African Americans. The group crowds around a dead white judge with a gavel in his hand - meant to be symbolic of the systemic racism in the US criminal justice system. Kendrick clearly has not only a new pal, but an ally for social change in Obama, who has spoken out about this issue before - the need to address disparate treatment of black people in America - in the context of the Black Lives Matter movment.
Above: Obama, mad for the raps.