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Wall Street Journal questions ethics of Barack Obama’s music tastes

on October 07, 2010, 4:12pm

You may have recently chuckled at or shrugged off President Obama’s Rolling Stone interview in which he gives fairly expected answers about the contents of his iPod: Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and “a lot of R&B” and classical music. He also points out his personal aide has turned him on to some of hip-hop’s big names — Jay-Z, Nas, and “a little Lil Wayne and some other stuff.”

It’s that last part that made someone a little angry. Thomas Chatterton Williams, in particular, in a guest opinion column Wednesday for The Wall Street Journal (via The Atlantic Wire). Williams, the author of Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture, writes:

Lil Wayne is emblematic of a hip-hop culture that is ignorant, misogynistic, casually criminal and often violent. A self-described gangster, he is a modern-day minstrel who embodies the most virulent racist stereotypes that generations of blacks have fought to overcome. His music is a vigorous endorsement of the pathologies that still haunt and cripple far too many in the black underclass.

Just as disturbing is Mr. Obama’s appreciation for Jay-Z, the rapper and unrepentant ex-drug dealer whose real name is Shawn Carter. Not only did Jay-Z earn a mention from the president in Rolling Stone, but he’s been photographed sitting in Mr. Obama’s chair in the White House Situation Room.

Mr. Obama is certainly not responsible for hip-hop’s grip on black America, or for Mr. Carter’s ideas and behavior. But what president would ever let Marilyn Manson drop by the White House? Is Jay-Z any better?

Now, there are easy answers for Jay-Z sitting in the President’s chair (we kid, we kid), but come on, there’s no way the President has time to dissect Weezy’s lyrics. And Marilyn Manson chilling in the White House with Christine O’Donnell is change we can believe in.

There’s only one acceptable response, Mr. President: diss track, and do it in time for mid-term elections.

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