Jay Z will officially put his political support behind Hillary Clinton with a Ohio concert on November 4. The event is aimed at encouraging minority voters to pick Clinton for president in the crucial swing state.
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Jay’s co-sign helped Barack Obama secure the White House in 2008, but Barack was a phenomenon that probably would have won with or without Jay’s help. If there was ever a candidate for president that could actually use Hov’s support, it’s Hillary. In fact, both could gain a lot by taking a second to learn from the other’s journey.
Around this time in 2003, Jay Z was campaigning hard to stake his claim as the “Best Rapper Alive.” He had been branding himself as the best with respect to Tupac and Biggie since 2001’s The Blueprint, but this was different. With The Black Album signaling his retirement from rap, Hov was on a mission to prove he was the greatest to ever do it without any exception or reasonable doubt. The Black Album was his resume and cover letter for the job of hip-hop’s next leader. It was an exhaustive rundown of the dues he’d paid, skills he’d honed, and goals he’d accomplished to that point in his career. And it worked.
Hillary’s current campaign has a similar feeling of inevitability. We’ve known she was going to be the first female president since the Lethal Weapon movies were coming out. And her every move since has been made with that final goal in mind.
Both of their careers have taken trajectories that we don’t normally associate with natural leaders. Compared to their peers, they definitely don’t seem like chosen ones. Jay isn’t as charming, enigmatic or vocally gifted as Pac, B.I.G. or Nas. And Hillary isn’t nearly as gifted as Barack Obama, her husband, or even Donald Trump when it comes to the basic political function of making people like them. But Jay and Hill weren’t given their spots by nature or nepotism. They earned their spots by wanting it more than anyone else.
Just as Jay strived to show the culture how to move in a room full of vultures by trading throwbacks for button-ups, Hillary’s been moving her non-patriarchal ideals through Washington, D.C. smoother than “The Spook Who Sat By The Door.” At all times, both move with the pressure of their potential on their shoulders. But don’t mistake their focus for fakeness.
Just as Hillary will always have to answer for her questionable policies and comments, Jay will always have his drug dealing past and explicit lyrics brought up to discredit him. But both have proven that they only find strength in their pasts, not shame. After surviving Monica Lewinsky and Dame Dash, there’s not much that can threaten Hov or Hillary anymore. Except for that paranoid voice in our conscience that tells us not to trust them.
To support Hov and Hillary, we have to overlook their carefully honed skills of manipulation and simply trust that they will be benevolent leaders. But it’s hard not to wonder if the years of cutthroat competition corrupted them? Or does their ability to rise above the pressure of their many scandals and setbacks prove that they were the only ones that were truly ever cut out for the job?
Hillary doubters struggle to see her as the woman who beat the old boys in their own club at their own game. The same way it’s hard for Jigga doubters to believe a former crack dealer could finesse an entertainment game that was designed to exploit Black musicians without compromising his morals. That’s where the conspiracies come in.
You can choose to believe Hillary is a crooked, racist liar and not a civil rights icon. And you can believe Jay Z is an Illuminati-backed sell-out and not a self-made, pro-Black entrepreneur. But you’d be wrong about both of them. If they were that easy to break down, they wouldn’t have made it this far to begin with.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter