'B-Rock' Strikes a Pose
There's the GQ Obama, where the freshman senator and Democratic presidential front-runner graces the latest cover of the quintessential men's magazine.
Then there's B-Rock, as the hip hop community has dubbed him, on the pages of Vibe -- the first time a politician made the cover of the 14-year-old mag, the bible to many in the BET/MTV/VH1 gaggle.
As the youngest candidate in the race (Obama turned 46 on Aug. 4) and as a White House contender with both black and white heritage (dad's Kenyan, mom's from Kansas), Obama has a chance to appeal to both the GQ and the Vibe crowds. It's a balancing act.
Already, Obama has gotten shout-outs from some of hip hop's biggest names. In his summer hit "The People," Chicago's own Common name-drops Obama: "Barack stick, knight the people like Obama." Brooklyn-based Talib Kweli, in his new song "Say Something," raps: "Speak to the people like Barack Obama. They worship like a black Madonna." The rapper/actor Ludacris, aka Chris Bridges, said that meeting with Obama, as they did last fall, was like hanging out with a relative.
Obama has a complex relationship with rap. He's criticized the genre before, especially in the wake of the Don Imus controversy. Still, he maintains that he's a fan. In an interview with the popular New York City hip hop station Hot 97 this spring, Obama said his taste in music is more "old school," citing Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Marvin Gaye, etc. But, he added: "Having said that, I'm current enough that on my iPod I've got a little bit of Jay-Z. I've got a little Beyonce."
Which Beyonce song, you think?
-- Jose Antonio Vargas
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