Yesterday, former President Barack Obama was joined by NBA star Steph Curry for a town hall meeting with the President’s organization My Brother’s Keeper. Obama spoke out against some themes he finds troubling in hip-hop music.
The goal of My Brother’s Keeper is “to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color and to ensure all youth can reach their full potential.”
Obama is famously a fan of hip-hop—The Carters, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar have all shown up in year-end lists of favorite songs. But during the town hall, Obama turned the discussion toward the genre’s treatment of materialism and its rhetoric as related to women.
“Let’s face it, a lot of hip-hop and rap music is built around me showing how I got more money than you; I can disrespect you, and you can’t do nothing about it; I’m gonna talk about you and punk you,” Obama said. “Ironically, that actually shows the vulnerability that you feel.”
The former President added: “If you were really confident about your financial situation, you probably are not going to be wearing an eight-pound chain around your neck, because you know, ‘I got bank. I don’t have to show you how much I got. I feel good’”
Obama then turned his thoughts to how women are sometimes depicted in hip-hop music videos.
“If you are very confident about your sexuality, you don’t have to have eight women around you twerkin’,” he said. “You seem stressed that you’ve gotta be acting that way. I’ve got one woman that I’m very happy with. And she’s a strong woman.”
He explained: “I think part of the challenge we have is because, often times racism, historically in this society sends a message that you are less-than and weak. We feel that we’ve got to compensate by exaggerating certain stereotypical ways that men are supposed to act—and that’s a trap that we fall into that we’ve got to pull out of.”
He concluded the remarks by telling the audience to show their strength not by putting other people down, but by lifting them up.
You can watch the comments beginning at about 55:15.