Last week, in between questions about financial reform (important) and whether or he cried when Paul McCartney performed Michelle at the White House (unclear), Rolling Stone asked President Obama what he had on his iPod. In response, the president cited traditional powerful-guy iPod staples Maria Callas, Bob Dylan, and Miles Davis, along with a "rap palate" that included Jay-Z, Nas, and "a little Lil Wayne."
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?
Nas, apparently, is OK.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.