Say or feel what you will about Barack Obama’s race for the White House — it’s undeniable that his candidacy is inspiring not just to a variety of Americans, but to a vast range of cultures around the world. Especially in my neck of the woods. Talk to Caribbean people these days and you get a real sense of excitement about the man who might become America’s first black president.
Musical expressions of that hope have been popping up all over the place — at Best of the Best, Buju Banton and Junior Reid both made references to the democratic nominee, and Tarrus Riley did this tune that had a MASSIVE audience reaction. Although his message doesn’t delve into WHY Obama’s his candidate of choice beyond just race, it’s kind of amazing to just watch that crowd go wild at even the first line of the song.
Obama’s name has been dropped in more than a few hip hop tracks, from Will I. Am‘s celebrity-filled songs, to that club banger by Jeezy and The Dream — and that trend is spreading like wildfire all over the Caribbean. And now that I think about it, probably in other countries as well — during my trip to NYC, an informal and conversational poll of my cab drivers revealed an overwhelming support for Obama. “Just his name alone makes me feel proud,” a Nigerian driver told me, and a Bangladeshi gentleman said he felt optimistic about the future of this country with a candidate like him in the running.
Of course, I’m heavily, heavily biased. I readily admit that. But some of these Obama songs are so catchy, they might even make a Clinton supporter start tapping their toes. He may not have won Puerto Rico, but who can resist Obama inna reggaeton? Or Barack, Bollywood style?
When I interviewed calypso legend The Mighty Sparrow last year (more to come on that soon), he was incredibly excited about Obama’s potential, and read all of the lyrics to his just-written ode to him, “Barack the Magnificent,” out to me on the phone. “The respect of the world that we now lack, If you want it back, then vote Barack.” Sparrow was convinced back then in November, and I’m sure the calypso legend is closely watching the news every chance he gets.
IMO, the catchiest ditty by far is by reggae legend Cocoa Tea (who doesn’t have a real official website (and probably never will) because, as he told me in an amazing 2006 interview, “You know what is the 666, the mark of the beast? The numerical value of c-o-m-p-u-t-e-r. Add that up and tell me if is lie me a tell. I and I know them things as a Rasta. That is the thing sent to wreck the world right now.”)
Do you love it? You know I do. Do I think it’ll get haters (like this lady here) to change their views? Um, no. Not at all. But I do think it says something about Obama’s international appeal, that so many of these odes are popping up outside of America — from people who can’t even vote in the upcoming election. And, on a less serious note, all of these would make such a fun summer politics mixtape. Right?
Speaking of which, I got that Obama/Cocoa Tea image from Overthinking It, which also has a sweet download link for Cocoa Tea’s catchy tune. (Interesting site! Worth a click for sure).
what do you think? Have you heard any political odes that you’ve liked lately?
EDITED at 10:24 p.m. — We’ve got ourselves an official Democratic nominee, bellas! History in the making!