Hip-hop music has long been the leading voice of urban America. Its politically charged lyrics have spread awareness of the issues inner city communities face. As the genre has become more mainstream, often dominating top 40 pop station playlists, the influence of hip-hop artists has only increased.
In 2008, about 23 percent of Obama voters were African-American, 10 percent were Hispanic, and 24 percent were under 30. Total, those groups made up more than half of the more than 65 million people who voted for Obama.
In what is projected to be a tight election, the enthusiasm of Obama’s base will be vital to the success of his campaign. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 57 percent of young voters currently approve of Obama, a decrease of 18 percentage points since Obama took office in January 2009, when the figure stood at 75 percent. Analysts and early survey data suggest Obama may face problems rallying his base – particularly young voters – this time around.
Slow economic recovery, high unemployment for young people and African Americans, and high student-loan interest rates may explain the dampened enthusiasm for the president.
Some hip-hop artists have even publicly criticized Obama’s first term. A slightly disillusioned rapper turned mogul, Sean “Diddy” Combs said in The Source magazine for February/March 2011, “I love the president like most of us. I just want the president to do better.”